Thursday Night: Clearing and much colder with a low near 25.
Dry ... More...
A Brief History of East Ridge Economic Development
By Richard Cook from our partners at East Ridge News Online:
The announcement that Bass Pro Shop plans to build an 85,000 square-foot retail store on land adjacent to Camp Jordan created tremendous excitement in East Ridge.
Since 2008 city officials have tried to pump new economic life into the city by a number of means. Most have fallen flat, as evidenced by a proposed water park on Ringgold Road. Some have succeeded, like the opening of Speedway later this month on the corner of Ringgold Road and Tombras Avenue.
Here is a brief timeline of some of the events leading up to the Bass Pro Shop announcement on Monday, June 9.
2008 _ Under Mayor Mike Steele's administration, it is announced that a developer out of Birmingham plans to build a water park on Ringgold Road near Spring Creek. Ground is broken at the site where the Dollar General Store now stands. For several months there is anticipation about the construction, but the development falls flat.
Steele explained last week that the developer, David Mays, had a financial backer in Birmingham who passed away during the initial stages of development. When the financial backer died, so did the project.
Discussions about economic development continued, officials said. However, the "Great Recession" put the brakes on businesses expanding to new sites.
Mayor Brent Lambert said he was at a Chamber of Commerce board meeting and a budget line item was brought up about economic development. "Well, there's none to speak of," Lambert said the chairman of the committee stated. "Talk about stagnation. That's where we were."
2009 _ Elected officials included a $50,000 line item in the fiscal year 2009-10 budget. The money would be used to hire a full-time employee who would work to bring new businesses into the city. The position was never filled, however. Reviewing minutes from those years show that the money earmarked under the city's administration department was spent in part to augment the salary of an administrative assistant for the city manager.
2010 _ In April, city officials fly to Springfield, Missouri to speak with Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops. Officials are attempting to convince Morris that the site of the old K-Mart and Sears Essential building on South Terrace should be considered for his business to expand into the Southeast Tennessee market.
Steele said at that time that city officials had been informed by another developer that Bass Pro was looking in the area. However, during this time the Cumberland River overflowed its banks in Nashville inundating retail stores in the area, including Bass Pro. "Discussions sidetracked and blew up," Steele said.
Also in this year, the city announced that it was interested in acquiring the building and property that once housed the Hungry Fisherman restaurant. That effort fell through after vandals looted the building destroying mechanical systems in the building.
In April of this year, officials with Wolftever Development obtained an option to purchase America's Best Value Inn on Camp Jordan Drive.
In August, Steele said he was approached by Wolftever Development with the idea of acquiring more than 30 acres of state property on Camp Jordan Drive adjacent to Fire Hall No. 2. In order for this to happen, city officials would have to appear before a Department of Transportation committee to plead its case.
Initially, TDOT was not in favor of designating the land as surplus and allowing the city to purchase it, officials said. The proposal was being slow-walked through the state bureaucracy, officials said.
Rep. Vince Dean persuaded Commissioner Paul Deggs to take another meeting with East Ridge officials. Newly-sworn Mayor Brent Lambert, then-City Attorney John Anderson, Rep. Dean, Vice Mayor Larry Sewell and the principals from Wolftever Development met with Deggs in Room 103 of the War Memorial Building.
This time, the state had a more favorable attitude toward the land being declared as surplus, clearing the way to sell it to the city.
"We needed a real shot in the arm and acquiring this land would provide that," Mayor Lambert said.
2011 _ The parcel of land at Exit 1 moves through a subcommittee and on to committee to be declared "surplus." A survey must be done before any sale can be made, officials said. It takes about a year for that process to be completed.
During this time, the state legislature is considering a bill called the Border Region Retail Tourism Development Act. It's aim is to "increase tourism and the competitiveness of this state with bordering states," according to TCA 7-40-102. "It empowers local governments to encourage the development of 'extraordinary' retail or tourism facilities, including shopping, recreational, and other activities."
East Ridge officials meet with state officials to explore the idea of qualifying to participate in development under the "Border Region Act."
The legislation was geared toward helping businesses in upper East Tennessee, the home of Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey. Sen. Bo Watson sponsored the bill in the Tennessee Senate.
"We looked at this and said this is astonishing at what can be done," said Anderson. "This type of funding mechanism is how Nashville funded Titans Stadium."
In August, a group representing East Ridge met with the Tennessee Commissioner of Revenue to apply and hopefully qualify under the Border Region Act. Bristol and Kingsport follow suit.
2012 _ In March, the appraisal for the state-owned land at Exit 1 is completed. It is appraised at about $127,000. The city sells the land to Wolftever for about $150,000. That figure includes expenses the city incurred in buying it from the state.
Wolftever's John Healy said that in initial meetings with city officials, he told them that the entire site would have to be raised. This would cost a great deal of money and that the developers would need help in shouldering the financial burden.
Healy said that Wolftever went through dozens of renditions of how the property could be developed. The truth, he said, was that the money wasn't there to do it.
"When we bought it, at that time the city didn't agree to put any money into the deal," Healy said. "All along out intention has been to never flip the property but to develop it.
"The major thing to happen was the Border Region Act," he continued. This deal would not have happened without Border Region, period."
The Border Region Act passes the legislature and East Ridge, Bristol and Kingsport are the only three cities in Tennessee to qualify under the the legislation.
2013 _ Developers timber the site and clear the land at the site. Healy said that Wolftever did not have the approval to fall trees on state-owned land bordering I-75. He said the value in that land is the "visibility of 100,000 vehicles a day driving up and down the interstate."
Healy said that from the beginning Bass Pro Shops was the number one choice for a tenant at the Exit 1 site. Non-disclosure agreements prohibited Wolftever representatives from discussing any deals, Healy said.
2014 _ Wolftever got permission from TDOT to cut the trees along I-75, giving any potential tenant the valuable visibility it desired. Healy said the inability to clear the TDOT land kept the project from moving forward. Once that was done, things began to move fast.
In a special called meeting on June 6, the council passed a resolution pledging $5 million to "provide financial assistance and incentives" to move forward with the development at Exit 1.
The city had previously established an Industrial Development Board. The board was a requirement under the Border Region Act, officials said.
On June 9, the board met for the first time in the training room at City Hall. As the members of the new board were walking into the meeting, it was announced through a press release from Bass Pro Shops that it would build a new store at Exit 1.
Rep. Dean may have said it best: "It's not government's place to create jobs. It's government's job to create an environment where businesses would want to locate. This shows that the council can work together. That, to me, is more vital than anything.
"(Bass Pro Shops) is the triggering event," he continued. "The big bang is still yet to come."
More Business News
Last Update on November 26, 2014 19:13 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits jumped last week, pushing total applications above 300,000 for the first time in nearly three months.
The Labor Department says weekly applications rose 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 313,000, the highest level since the first week of September. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 6,250 to 294,000.
The increase is unlikely to raise concerns about the broader health of the job market. At least some of the rise occurred because of seasonal layoffs in businesses affected by the cold weather, such as construction. The department seeks to control for such seasonal factors but doesn't always do so perfectly.
Applications had been under 300,000 for 10 straight weeks, an unusually low level that indicates companies are laying off few workers.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumers picked up spending by a modest amount in October, a slight improvement after no gain at all in the previous month.
The Commerce Department says consumer spending rose 0.2 percent last month, while September was revised from a decline to a flat reading. Income grew 0.2 percent in October, matching the modest September gain.
Spending is closely watched because it accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. Solid job gains this year are helping to lift spending, which is giving a bolstering the overall economy.
Economic growth came in at a solid 3.9 percent in the July-September quarter. Economists are looking for growth of around 2.5 percent in the current quarter, and they believe 2015 will see further spending gains and growth of around 3 percent.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods rose in October, but a key category that tracks business investment plans declined sharply for a second straight month.
The Commerce Department says orders for durable goods increased 0.4 percent last month following a 0.9 percent drop in September and an even bigger 18.3 percent plunge in August. The two months of declines reflected big swings in the volatile category of commercial aircraft.
The small October gain was unimpressive, with declines in a number of categories including machinery, computers and primary metals such as steel.
A key category viewed as a proxy for business investment spending fell 1.3 percent in October after a similar 1.3 percent September drop. It was the biggest setback since a 1.4 percent May decline.
NEW HOME SALES
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of new U.S. homes edged up modestly in October, led by a big jump in activity in the Midwest.
The Commerce Department says new home sales advanced 0.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 458,000. That followed a smaller 0.4 percent gain in September and put sales at the highest point since May.
The strength last month came from a big 15.8 percent increase in sales in the Midwest and a smaller 7.1 percent rise in the Northeast. Those increases offset a 1.9 percent fall in sales in the South, which accounts for half of the new-home market, and a 2.7 percent drop in the West.
Housing has struggled to recover since the recession ended in June 2009.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans signing contracts to buy homes fell slightly in October as tight credit and lagging wages remained financial hurdles for would-be homebuyers.
The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index fell 1.1 percent the past month to 104.1. The index remains below its 2013 average but is 2.2 percent higher than last October.
Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.
Housing has struggled to fully rebound since the recession ended more than five years ago. Many potential buyers lack the savings and strong credit history needed to afford a home, causing them to rent or remain in their existing houses instead of upgrading.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates ticked down for the third straight week, a positive trend for potential homebuyers.
Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage declined to 3.97 percent this week from 3.99 percent last week. Rates are now about a half-point lower than at the beginning of the year.
Long-term mortgage rates fell as low as 3.31 percent toward the end of 2012, partly because of the Federal Reserve's bond-purchase program, which was intended to keep rates low. That program has since ended.
Rates have fallen in recent weeks amid economic slowdowns in Europe and China and the start of a recession in Japan.
The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, was unchanged at 3.17 percent.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Greater optimism about income growth and future spending pushed U.S. consumer sentiment to a fresh 7-year high in November.
The University of Michigan says its index of consumer sentiment rose to 88.8 in November from 86.9 in October. That's the highest since July 2007, five months before the Great Recession began.
The report adds to a mixed picture of U.S. consumers heading into the holiday shopping season. A separate measure of consumer confidence, released Tuesday, fell sharply after reaching its own 7-year high last month. And Americans are spending at a sluggish pace despite a pickup in job creation this year.
Still, the Michigan survey found consumers said they were more likely to spend on big-ticket items such as appliances and autos than at any time since the recession began.
AIR BAG RECALL DEMAND
DETROIT (AP) -- U.S. safety regulators are threatening fines and legal action against Takata Corp. for failing to admit that its driver's-side air bag inflators are defective and should be recalled nationwide.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent a letter to the company Wednesday detailing the threats, which include a public hearing and possible court action.
Takata of Japan has refused demands for the national recall, saying that a recall limited to high-humidity states is sufficient. But the agency says two inflators have ruptured in cars outside the high-humidity zone, injuring drivers by spewing metal fragments.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says Takata must act quickly or the agency will use all of its authority and resources to get the national recall done.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is announcing steps to cut levels of smog-forming pollution linked to asthma, lung damage and other health problems.
The Environmental Protection Agency is calling for a new, lower threshold for ozone pollution of 65 to 70 parts per billion. That's down from the current standard of 75 parts per billion, put in place by President George W. Bush in 2008.
But the EPA is leaving open the possibility it could enact an even lower standard of 60 parts per billion sought by environmental groups.
The EPA estimates that meeting the stricter rules will cost industry about $3.9 billion in 2025 if the government goes with a standard of 70 parts per billion. At a level of 65 parts per billion, the EPA said, the cost grows to $15 billion.
Industry groups say the cost would actually be far higher and that it would be nearly impossible for refineries and other businesses to comply. But EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says lower ozone standards would actually spur more businesses, investment and jobs by making communities healthier.
The EPA was under a court-ordered Dec. 1 deadline to issue a new smog standard.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A White House veto threat appears to have put on ice a congressional effort to permanently renew a handful of generous tax breaks for businesses and individuals. Officials say that the plan, brewing behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, favored corporations over the working class.
The unusual veto threat came before the parameters of a potential agreement were even revealed.
Speculation on Capitol Hill on Tuesday focused on a potential agreement to permanently enact tax breaks on business investments in new equipment and research and development, part of a plan that would renew dozens of expired tax breaks for businesses and individuals.
The White House immediately threatened a veto, saying Congress should also make permanent more generous tax credits for the working poor and people with children.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Many immigrants in the United States illegally who apply for work permits under President Barack Obama's new executive actions would be eligible for Social Security and Medicare benefits upon reaching retirement age, according to the White House.
Under Obama's actions, immigrants who are spared deportation would be eligible to obtain work permits and a Social Security number. As a result, they would pay into the Social Security system through payroll taxes.
Not all such immigrants would be entitled to the benefits, however, because like all Social Security and Medicare recipients they would have to work 10 years to become eligible for retirement payments and health care.
The Good LifeCelebrating the events, adventures and activities that represent "The Good Life" in the NewsChannel 9 viewing area.
SideroadsTake a ride with Brian Smith to explore the unique people and places to be found along the Sideroads of the NewsChannel 9 viewing area.
Road TrippinCome Road Trippin' with us and see all the great sites in your area!
Closings and DelaysThese are the latest School and Business Closings reported to NewsChannel 9. If you see errors or need to add a school or business, call 423-757-7320.
This N ThatLearn about the latest in community affairs and great events with Brian Smith on This 'N That.
Educator of the WeekNominate now for Educator Of The Week!
Deaf & Hard of HearingInformation provided to NewsChannel 9 by members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community.
Sponsored EventsCheck Back Often for NewsChannel9 Sponsored Events!