Doug Berry, vice president of economic development at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, provided Cleveland Kiwanis Club members with an economic development update from 2017, at Thursday's …
Doug Berry, vice president of economic development at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, provided Cleveland Kiwanis Club members with an economic development update from 2017, at Thursday's program at the Elks Lodge.
Berry hit the high points of some major developments, improvements, additions, and refinements of industry over the previous 12 months, as well as bringing club members up to date on the final stages of the new Spring Branch Industrial Park, and recruitment of possible tenants.
He also discussed briefly of the city's plans for downtown revitalization and redevelopment, and the City Council's commitment to purchased the old, historic Cherokee Hotel (now Summit Apartments).
"This is the first step in downtown revitalization," Berry added in plans for the old hotel. He said the hotel, built in the early part of the 20th century, could become a boutique hotel, apartments, or an office building.
"Whatever, it will be the focal point for downtown," Berry indicated. He also pointed out that the first goal is to plan for the 80 tenants of the high-rise apartment building, who are currently living in marginal housing.
Berry also mentioned the recent property enhancement grant program initiated by MainStreet Cleveland for downtown business owners, and the newly created Back Alley Gallery, each an attempt to improve the downtown area as a destination for local residents.
In his economic update, Berry displayed a rare advertisement for the community, which featured "Labor, Land and Lifestyle."
In the campaign to recruit new industry to Cleveland, and Bradley County, Berry said they pursued 53 leads in 2015, 94 in 2016, and 79 this past year. In 2017, they responded to 35 inquiries, with 22 active projects.
"This has the potential of $1 billion in investments, which would create approximately 2,910 new jobs," Berry said.
Local industry took significant steps in expansion and growth last year, including Wacker in Charleston, with its new plant. Other progress was noted at United Hydrogen Cryogenics of Tennessee, Bayer and its plans for a three-phase project that could amount to a $38 million investment, Lubing Systems of Barker Plastics LLC, the Mueller Company, Newly Wed Foods, and Vairog U.S. LLC.
The Chamber of Commerce official, an economic development veteran, emphasized he has enjoyed his nine years in Cleveland.
He also went into detail on the commununity's involvement in the Greater Chattanooga Economic Partnership.
"To attract new, major industry in today's market, you have to have about 1 million people," Berry said, adding that this is something the partnership provides. "It is good to add a new enterprise, anywhere in our region," he added.
In conclusion, Berry said the focus of economic development in our community today is the workforce.
"If we were to recruit a new industry with 1,000 [potential positions] we might not be able to fill those jobs," he said. "We need to bring back the old apprentice program."
Berry praised local school systems, and higher education facilities, for taking preliminary steps to meet this critical need in economic development.
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