Economic development consultant Younger Associates has presented their report to the chamber of commerce and the community including targeted industry and workforce analysis as the community looks work toward bringing in more jobs.
The funds for the study came from the city, county and donations to the chamber specifically for the project from businesses and supporters in the community. The report seeks to position the area as an attractive place for businesses location and expansion by leveraging the I-40 location and to establish the state and capacity of the workforce and what workforce development strategies are needed.
The report indicates the best bets for the area to try and recruit are manufacturing business in the categories of fabricated metal manufacturing, electrical equipment component manufacturing and a mid to long range target of motor vehicle manufacturing of parts and components. Additional targets are wood product manufacturing and non-metallic mineral product manufacturing.
Advantages to Cumberland County's location for industry and business locations include proximity to U.S. markets and population centers located within a one-day truck delivery of approximately 70% of major markets. Other reasons include
- Proximity to Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga for larger metropolitan amenities and access to specialized good, services and commercial air service
- Located on Interstate 40 and U.S. 127; I-40 visibility and access is excellent
- Outstanding natural beauty of the Crossville-Cumberland with numerous outdoor recreational opportunities • Access to higher education including three TCATs within the labor shed
- Effective collaboration among local leadership, particularly among the city and county mayors and the chamber
- Success in attracting grant funding to develop industrial site development
- Excellent availability of sites under preparation using local and grant funds, and potential new sites that can be added to the inventory for business and industrial development
The report also outlines other benefits the community can use to its advantage in recruiting business here:
- Community as a whole has a pro-business attitude
- Good community support for industry-focused workforce development, particularly with the Crossville TCAT, County School System and Horizon Initiative Participants
- Presence of an active business incubator
- Very active arts community
- Downtown area with huge potential for development with great building stock and a good existing mix of retail and services
- Ability to attract tourism and retirement is a good companion for developing amenities that attract other business and industry, and potentially new working age residents
The reasons for the selection of the business targets include that similar businesses are already represented in the economy, the jobs have an average annual wage of greater then $50,000 and a projected national 5 year growth rate of 10 percent. Additionally, the community talent pipeline can supply those trained in technology and engineering to these industries, sites exist for the new industry locations and the transportation infrastructure is available to bring in raw materials in and ship finished product out.
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The report indicates tourism is another target and recommends the development of natural attractions, sporting attractions, a conference center hotel, and crossovers with retiree and worker/talent attraction. The report describes downtown development as an opportunity to create a vibrant center to increase enjoyment for local residents and help attract new residents. The report praises downtown for its attractive building stock, uncommon mix of retail, historical cultural assets and an art community.
The report also ties the areas age demographic to the expected growth in medical services needed by the community.
One issue that the Chamber wanted researched was the available work force and Younger and Associates surveyed 767 individuals about their employment and other information. The results show a sizable outflow of workers to Putnam County but not to one specific industry but a variety of reasons. Almost 18 percent of employees also have a second job and a majority of those second jobs are self employment.
The results show only 25.9 percent of those currently employed are interested in training in new job skills, a number smaller then in other areas. Of those surveyed who were unemployed only 58 percent were interested in job training and that number was also lower then other areas. Those that were interested in training were interested in computer technology and management HR.
Area retirees were also surveyed and 25 percent said they would be willing to help recruit their former employer to relocate to the area and 25 percent would also be willing to mentor and help educate students about career paths.
The report indicates a hidden labor supply that would work full-time includes unemployed, part-time wanting full-time, underemployed and recent post secondary graduates with a total of 38,577 people. Another 16,398 are interested in part-time including retirees interested in working.
Other recommendations listed include continue developing existing industrial sites and implement plans to use recently awarded grant funds to improve infrastructure. The community should also continue to option or acquire land and buildings needed to support major business expansions.
Additionally the report recommends promoting information to employees and unemployed that training gives potential for advancement and promotes the availability, ease of access and importance of training to work to change the mindset of the employees not interested in any training.
To increase the workforce, the reports suggests sending out information to potential retirees to :bring the whole family” when they move.