In 1884, President Grover Cleveland sought to ease tensions and end clashes between labor unions, the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals by making Labor Day a national holiday.
The proposal was unanimously approved by Congress and since then all 50 states have made Labor Day a state holiday. Today, it is viewed as a way to pay tribute to the hard-working men and women who are the backbone of our economy.
Even though the economy is down and unemployment is up across the U.S., Bradley County has not felt the recession’s impact as severely as some areas in Tennessee. Several factors have combined to help our community weather this economic storm. One of them is our pool of excellent employees.
The last U.S. Census shows that Bradley County has a labor force of 47,860 out of a population of 100,055. The Census also determined that the county has enjoyed job growth of 2.89 percent in recent years with a median household income of $40,032 when the Census was taken in 2010.
Our unemployment rate is still too high at 8.9 percent as of July 2012. However, this is still below the state and national average and the future looks very bright for Bradley County workers.
The Census Bureau projects future job growth of 36.78 percent over the next 10 years based on migration patterns, and local economic/industrial growth. These figures, coupled with a cost of living that is 7.70 percent lower than the national average, give families in Bradley County reason to be encouraged about our local economy.
Our hard-working, trainable workforce is one of the key elements in attracting Wacker Chemie to Bradley County and the prospect of 650 or more good paying hi-tech jobs. Wacker has already hired many of its engineers, senior chemical operators and lab technicians. Several management positions have also been filled. The company will be interviewing more than 100 applicants for technical operator positions in the fall with a hire date in 2013.
The first team of employees to complete the Wacker Institute and on-the-job training in Germany should return home within the next couple of weeks. The company is still looking for engineers and about half of the Wacker workforce is yet to be hired.
The Wacker plant, which is still under construction, is proving to be a tremendous asset to the local economy and for workers looking for a good-paying job and a long-term career with an outstanding company.
Wacker is just one of several major companies that has chosen to tap into Bradley County’s tremendous workforce. The new GE lighting distribution center located on Lauderdale Highway now has 340 employees. Whirlpool chose to keep its appliance manufacturing plant in Cleveland, saving 1,200 jobs and creating many new jobs. The new Amazon Distribution Center has almost doubled its workforce projection and now has 450 employees.
Through regional cooperation, Volkswagen chose to locate its North American headquarters and manufacturing plant in Hamilton County at Interstate 75’s Exit 9, just about five miles from the Bradley County line.
VW vendors are now looking at Bradley County as a place to locate their supply depots and manufacturing facilities, which will potentially create hundreds of additional jobs for Bradley County citizens.
As mayor, I give a lot of credit for these successes to the Bradley County workers. You are one of the main reasons that Bradley County is Tennessee at its best.
Regardless of how you choose to spend this holiday, it’s a good time to reflect upon the economic and social achievements of the American worker, and especially those in Bradley County.
For information about Bradley County government and services, visit our interactive website at www.bradleyco.net.