Cleveland job growth 32nd among 388 metros

By LARRY C. BOWERS
Posted 11/3/17

Doug Berry, vice president of Economic Development for the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce, had plenty of good news at Thursday evening's meeting of the Economic Development …

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Cleveland job growth 32nd among 388 metros

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Doug Berry, vice president of Economic Development for the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce, had plenty of good news at Thursday evening's meeting of the Economic Development Council.

Council members also had some good news from their respective organizations.

Berry announced that Cleveland was second, behind Nashville, in September's state Metro Performance Report.

The report emphasized Cleveland employment totaled 49,100 in September, representing a change of 1,400 jobs from a year earlier, and an unemployment change of 2.9 percent.

By comparison, the average rate for all U.S. metros was 1.1 percent.

In  September, private industry hourly earnings in Cleveland were $20.24, while the average nationwide was $23.53.

The community also ranked high overall, placing 32nd among all 388 metros in the nation for employment growth.  Earnings did not place that high, being 328th among the 388.

The state report listed the Nashville/Davidson/Murfreesboro/Franklin Metro as having a 29,900 change in jobs from the previous year. The annual employment change in the mid-state area was 3.1 percent.

Average earnings in Middle Tennessee was $25.45, just above the national average of $23. 53.

The Middle Tennessee Metro was No. 1 in Tennessee, and 24th among all 388 Metros. It was 94th in average hourly earnings.

Cleveland's lofty overall ranking was above Chattanooga, although the city to the south had 5,600 additional jobs. This was an employment change of 2.2 percent. The Chattanooga/North Georgia Metro ranked 77th overall. 

Ranked fourth in the state, at 80th overall, was Morristown. This metro added 1,000 jobs, at 2.2 percent employment. Average earnings was $18.76.

Johnson City was next at 121st overall. This Tri-City community had an increase of 1,300 jobs, and an employment change of 1.6 percent. Average earnings were $19.78.

Other state rankings included: Memphis at 204th with 6,500 new jobs; Jackson, 240th with 500 additional jobs; Knoxville at 291st and 90 added jobs; Clarksville, 305th and 100 additional jobs; and Kingsport, 342nd, with a loss of 600 jobs.

Earnings for this cities were: Memphis, $22.31; Jackson, $18.47; Knoxville, $24.80; Clarksville, $18.24; and Kingsport, $17.88.

The Metro rankings are compiled from September to September.

Most of the remainder of Berry's report had to do with continued progress and development of the joint Cleveland/Bradley County industrial park, Spring Creek, just south of the city limits.

Total anticipated expenditures for current projects is $6,497,074.95, but Berry said a change order to correct over/under runs has resulted in a savings of $301,171.

He said these funds will be shifted to the development's mass grading project, another change order to $1,229,964.

The original contract for roadway and utilities was $4,849,761, and combined with the change order for mass grading, the total construction cost is expected to be $5,769,553.

Additional expenses at the new, upscale industrial complex, includes Stream and wetland mitigation ($456,421), Ragan/Smith design bid for utilities and mass grading ($86,000); Ragan/Smith construction inspection ($145,000), and Michael Brady Inc.'s Lot 1 design bid ($40,100).

The total of these additional expenses is $727,521.

Berry had an impressive group of photographs detailing all the work that is going on at the industrial park. Most were taken Thursday, some from ground level, a others from a drone.

"We're just now at the point where we can try to sale Spring Branch," said Berry. He added that negotiations with potential customers were handicapped by a lack of inventory.

Berry said he was getting excited about the prospects, although he has been losing sleep. "We're going to have a very saleable product," he added, saying a local company is looking at a portion of one lot.

Berry also discussed the process of two-a-week reports on the projects' stormwater issues. Some of those plans were challenged recently when a huge storm swept through the area.

Berry said those problems were immediate addressed, and city and state inspectors have given a "thumbs up" to the corrections."We have not been listed in violation of our permit," he added.


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