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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 21, 2014 08:31 GMT
FEDERAL RESERVE-TOO COZY?
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Reserve says it will review how it oversees the biggest U.S. banks amid criticism that it has grown too close to the financial institutions it is charged with regulating.
The Fed announced the review late Thursday. On Friday, a Senate subcommittee will hold a hearing on whether Fed examiners -- particularly in its New York operation -- have become too cozy with the big banks they oversee.
The central bank said the review will examine whether its decision-makers get the information they need to make good decisions in their inspection and oversight of banks. It also will look at the Fed's internal culture, and whether dissenting views related to oversight are stifled.
The bailout of Wall Street banks during the 2008 financial crisis brought the issue forward.
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Japan's return to recession has renewed questions about the effectiveness of its recent monetary stimulus -- and how anything similar would help Europe's struggling economy.
The European Central Bank is edging toward the same kind of large-scale bond purchases that the Bank of Japan has used. Proponents say the measure, typically used as a last resort by central banks, could boost the shaky eurozone recovery by reducing borrowing costs for businesses, households and governments.
Yet Japan's recession underlines the limits of so-called quantitative easing, or QE, which involves pumping newly created money into the economy through bond purchases.
The step may give the eurozone a marginal boost by keeping the euro's exchange rate down, putting a lid on borrowing costs for the foreseeable future and generating some wealth effects.
However, few economists think it will provide a magic solution -- especially if governments like those in France and Italy don't make their economies more business-friendly, and if countries keep trying to reduce debt through austerity cuts.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Negotiations over a new contract for dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports took an unexpected turn Thursday, as the union insisted on "small table" talks while employers decried the "extended break."
The full teams for the longshoreman's union and the association representing trans-ocean shipping lines and operators of port terminals aren't scheduled to meet again until Dec. 2.
The maritime association called the development a "slowdown tactic" -- a pointed reference to their complaints that dockworkers are deliberately dragging as they load and unload ships.
Public pressure has been mounting to resolve labor strife at ports that handle billions of dollars of imports and exports each day.
A union spokesman said negotiations were going well and the change was a chance to tackle tough issues in small groups.
DETROIT (AP) -- The government is telling Chrysler to speed up its recall of 1.5 million older Jeeps with gas tanks that can rupture in a rear collision.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent a letter to Chrysler saying that only 3 percent of the Jeeps have been fixed, more than a year after the recall began.
The Jeep Grand Cherokees and Libertys have gas tanks behind the rear axles that can rupture in rear collisions and catch fire. The remedy is to install a trailer hitch to protect the tanks in low-speed collisions. At least 51 people have died in crashes due to the problem.
The letter says Jeep owners have complained about being turned away by dealers for lack of parts.
Chrysler says it's redoubling efforts to get ship parts.
DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors is promoting its purchasing chief to be head of quality as part of a management shake-up.
The move comes after all GM brands but Buick performed worse than average in this year's Consumer Reports auto reliability survey.
Quality and customer experience head Alicia Boler-Davis will remain a senior vice president, but will no longer lead quality. She's now in charge of a department that handles GM's interactions with its customers.
Purchasing head Grace Lieblein takes over as vice president of global quality.
Both executives report to CEO Mary Barra.
Cadillac, GMC and Chevrolet all scored below average in the Consumer Reports survey revealed last month. GMC fell 10 places largely due to problems with the new Sierra pickup. Buick was the top brand from a U.S.-based automaker.
LONDON (AP) -- Financial services startup Square is taking aim at cash registers across the globe, making its point-of-sale software available internationally in English, Spanish, French and Japanese.
The company, whose small cubic credit card reader can be used to turn a smartphone or a tablet into a portable sized till, isn't yet offering the distinctively shaped piece of hardware in Europe, CEO Jack Dorsey said at a press event in London on Thursday.
Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter Inc., declined to give a timeline for when the hardware would be available for Square's new international users.
Square says that its app -- available for Android and Apple devices -- now supports 130 currencies.
KOZY SHACK-PUDDING RECALL
ARDEN HILLS, Minn. (AP) -- Pudding maker Kozy Shack Enterprises is recalling some of its puddings because they are not labeled as containing milk.
The voluntary recall involves 4-ounce cups of Foodservice Kozy Shack Simply Well Chocolate Pudding.
The recalled pudding was distributed through foodservice distribution channels and not sold in retail stores.
The product was distributed to 20 states -- Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Minnesota-based cooperative Land O'Lakes owns Kozy Shack Enterprises.
AT&T pays $23.8 M to settle hazardous waste case
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- AT&T has agreed to pay California authorities nearly $24 million to settle allegations that it improperly disposed of hazardous waste during a nine-year period.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris said Thursday that the telecommunications giant has also agreed to spend $28 million over the next five years to properly dispose of the waste, which includes batteries, electronic equipment and various gels and liquids. Harris said the investigation began in 2011 when inspectors with the Alameda County District Attorney's office and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control examined trash bins outside about 235 AT&T warehouse and other facilities.
An AT&T spokesman said the company cooperated with the investigation.
Five other telecommunications' companies have disclosed in financial filings with regulators that they are the targets of similar investigations.
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