Gary Farlow, president and CEO of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, addressed a large MainStreet Cleveland membership at the Elks Lodge Monday and updated his audience on several related development projects.
The development of new industrial parks, or sites for new and existing industries, includes multiple steps, many of which are detailed, he said. One is the Whirlpool Corporation plant and distribution center project in which six streams had to be assessed and rerouted on the property before construction could get under way, Farlow explained.
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation moved quickly to help make sure everything was done correctly, according to Farlow.
Farlow also said the 1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility and future projects will ensure continued growth.
“We are fortunate to have a diverse industrial base here in Cleveland and Bradley County,” Farlow said. “We try to have property for industry which is looking and ready to build.”
He said some properties are “shovel ready” or developed beyond that distinction.
“Having these things in place puts us ahead of the competition,” Farlow said.
During a recent meeting with MainStreet members, Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said initial indications were the 2010 U.S. Census showed a population of 40,000 within the city and the metro count was 114,000.
Coupled with downtown revitalization through MainStreet Cleveland, Rowland attributed growth, new industry and sustainability of existing industry to the hard work of MainStreet and all events and projects which have been formulated over the past 20 years.
Farlow said other issues will be dealing with the old Honeywell site on 20th Street and the future of the current Whirlpool property, which comprises almost 90 acres and several standalone buildings, including at least three major manufacturing facilities.
“That is still in Whirlpool’s hands,” said Farlow, “but once clearance is given and monitoring of the Honeywell property complete, we will be able to help market that property.”
As for the Charleston area where Wacker Polysilicon North America, Amazon.com and the GE Distribution Center are located, plans for traffic controls are under way.
The Amazon facility has been built within a year and according to Farlow, hiring is ongoing, rack systems are in place and the company is possibly already shipping items from the facility, one of two in the area.
At peak times of the year, Amazon will employ more than 600 people with a permanent workforce of approximately 250 employees.
The Wacker plant is expected to employ potentially as many as 750 people, Farlow noted.
“This is a great area for distribution and industry,” Farlow said regarding the proximity to Interstate 75.
He also pointed to plans for Exit 20 and the proposed $32 million project which will open that area for industry and retail. Property for up to 2 million square feet of industrial space will be included in the neighboring Spring Branch Industrial Park, he said.