BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The right kind of environment for businesses is essential to economic development, Greene County Partnership President and CEO Tom Ferguson told members of the Greene County Republican Women's Club on Monday.
The club held their monthly luncheon at the General Morgan Inn, with Ferugson serving as the guest speaker.
"You all are working to elect good business people in Nashville," Ferugson said, noting that Tennessee has recently been ranked as one of the best business environments in national publications.
Within Greene County alone, there are 90 manufacturing companies, six of which employee between 300 to 900 people. Another 20 companies employee between 100 to 300 people.
In fact, manufacturing jobs make up about 27 percent of Greene County's workforce, he reported.
"Manufacturing is extremely important to our economy," Ferguson commented.
US Nitrogen's facility remains under development in the Mosheim community and is projected to open sometime early next year, he added.
He estimated the county's "true" unemployment rate at something between 14 to 15 percent with those that are underemployed, have dropped out of the labor force, or are altogether unemployed.
"Last year was the best year that we've had for the Hotel/Motel Tax," he noted, crediting tourism efforts and events such as the NAIA Women's Golf Tournament.
Meanwhile hundreds of jobs will be added within the next couple years following the expansion of local industries, including the recent $20 million expansion of Huf.
"That's an example of how important it is to have the right people in Nashville," he noted, sharing that the state's decision to give Huf a $200,000 grant influenced the company's decision to make the expansion in Greeneville.
The revitalization of the old Walmart building on the East Andrew Johnson Highway was also possible through the "right people who are pro-business people" in local leadership, he said.
As for the remaining spaces for retail business and a restaurant, Ferguson said that there are still no signed leases.
"We hope that's going to take care of itself in the next couple of months or so," he added.