Where Power and Opportunity Meet
Amazon recently announced that it plans to build a new operations center in Nashville. This is big news for the entire state as the project is expected to bring more than 5,000 jobs and millions of dollars in investment to the region. Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis have recently made headlines for industry announcements as well.
All of this attention on the state’s urban centers makes it easy to think that opportunity can only be found in a big city. Here in the Upper Cumberland, we know better. Opportunity and growth are all around us.
Last year, nearly half of all new jobs created in Tennessee – more than 9,700 – were created in the state’s rural and suburban counties. These communities may not be growing at the pace of Nashville or Knoxville, but our area is quickly becoming more attractive to businesses planning to expand or relocate here.
A major growth spurt is happening now Cookeville. Colorobbia USA, Inc. and it family-owned ceramic and glass company headquartered in Italy, has invested $5 million to build a 50,000-square-foot facility here. The plant is projected to provide jobs in distribution and technical assistance for approximately 30 people. Academy Sports just completed a $100 million facility and is set to provide 700 well-paying jobs near Tennessee Tech. Not far down the highway in Baxter, Brazilian tile giant, Portobello, is projected to create around 220 new, high-quality, family-wage jobs once that $150 million facility is completed in 2021
Smith County has received $1.45 million in grants to expand the county’s industrial park. A $350,000 grant from TVA will be used to purchase the property and to clear trees within a 119-acre tract. Other grants from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development will pay for site grading and three building pads – the first step toward attracting high-tech, high-paying jobs to the county.
The Upper Cumberland is centrally located and with its strategic geographical advantage, quality of life, and well-trained workforce, our area is the obvious choice for these industries that are dedicated to offering world-class service to their
UCEMC provides electric power to all or portions of eleven counties in the Upper Cumberland, but our interest in the communities we serve goes far beyond power. We’re working to be sure that our part of the state is strong and well prepared to compete in the modern economy.
One of our recent projects has helped to “shed light” on economic development efforts in Carthage by converting mercury vapor and high-pressure sodium street lights to an LED system, providing safety and security for those visiting the downtown area and substantial energy savings for the city. The 556-light project included changing the lights on the Cordell Hull Bridge and Main Street of Historic Carthage. This update has been well received by the public.
Our youth programs help young people in the Upper Cumberland develop important leadership skills. In 2018, five students from UCEMC’s service area spent a week in our nation’s capital as delegates on the Washington Youth Tour, learning about government and public policy. We also sent two high school students to Nashville for the Tennessee Electric Co-op Youth Leadership Summit to strengthen their leadership and networking skills.
All the things that happen here in the Upper Cumberland may not get as much attention as those in Nashville, but what goes on here matters. It matters to all of us who live here, and it matters to our co-op. UCEMC wants to see the communities we serve succeed. We want this to be an area where businesses thrive, families prosper, and opportunities are abundant.