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‘Development is a team sport’

By MARK MCGEE - mmcgee@t-g.com
Posted 5/30/23

This is the third and last installment in a series on the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership.

A rising tide raises all boats.

It is a statement that has earned its cliché status, but it …

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‘Development is a team sport’


This is the third and last installment in a series on the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership.

A rising tide raises all boats.

It is a statement that has earned its cliché status, but it is a true one, nonetheless.

“We need to water the vine,” Shane Hooper, President and CEO of the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership said. “We need to water the source. We need to water what is helping us grow.

“That is what this organization is here for. This organization belongs to everybody. We water the vine that gets us the fruit.”

That is the approach the partnership follows in its pursuit of economic development. The partnership wants to benefit all ages and all income levels.

“Economic development is, and always has been, a team sport,” Shane Hooper said. “We need the city. We need the county. We need our private sector.

“Government can do some things, but it can’t do it all. We need to all be pulling in the same direction so we can all benefit.”

The partnership has been involved in a number of areas including the location of Duksan Electera’s factory and MTSU bringing its aviation department to the Shelbyville Municipal Airport.

“We rely heavily on our property tax revenues,” said partnership board member Christy Womack, co-owner of Dabora, Inc. “I think that gets missed.

“The way to stop doing that is to grow our base and grow other sources of revenue. Duksan and other companies like that can stop us from leaning so heavily on property taxes.”

Both new industries and existing industries need employees who can perform at a high level. Hooper emphasizes that the partnership is helping to educate the future workforce through the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT), Motlow State Community College, MTSU, and the Bedford County Education Department.

“We want them to know what employers are looking for so they can make tweaks in their curriculums,” Hooper said. “We want them to come out of school ready to go into the workforce. It takes a coordinated effort to prepare employees and that is one of the things we are doing.”

Partnership board member and Chairman, David Coffey, CEO of Palmetto Properties and former co-owner of Nationwide Express, Inc.; stresses economic development is all about investing in and marketing our city and county to viable industries and businesses that will expand our tax revenue base, reducing the burden on our current citizens and business community.

Coffey praises the work ethic and results of Shane Hooper and the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership staff rating them as “some of the best and brightest people I have ever worked with in economic development”. He admits he is disappointed the City of Shelbyville opted not to provide $100,000 to the partnership for the next fiscal year but hopes that decision will be revisited. 

“I believe strategically investing in economic development has and will continue to deliver incredible results for our citizens, government, businesses, and non-profits, “Coffey said. “If you don’t make an investment, you can’t get a return. In my business career, I never saved my way to prosperity.

“I was fortunate enough to work with some extremely talented people, learning to consistently reinvest in our company and relentlessly market our services which proved to be a winning formula for over 42 years.  I would encourage everyone in a leadership role, whether it be in the city or county, to search their hearts and ask themselves, are we truly investing in and effectively marketing this community, so we can raise the boats for everyone? If we are not, we need to be.”