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Partnership takes look at Path Forward

By ZOË WATKINS - zwatkins@t-g.com
Posted 11/22/22

The Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership hosted their annual Path Forward event last Monday to give updates on what the partnership has accomplished as well as any goals they have for the future. …

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Partnership takes look at Path Forward

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The Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership hosted their annual Path Forward event last Monday to give updates on what the partnership has accomplished as well as any goals they have for the future.  

CEO Shane Hooper said the Partnership has grown in partners to include the Tennessee Valley Authority, Middle Tennessee Industrial Development Association, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development.  

Hooper also talked about the $1 million site development grant going to the Shelbyville Power, Water, & Sewer system for sewer upgrades at the 231 North Industrial Park. Another $6 million state industrial access road grant through TDOT will widen portions of Frank Martin Road.  

This is a big step since the Partnership recruited Duksan Electera America, Inc., which is the first major manufacturer since Calsonic in the early 1980s. Duksan expects 161 jobs and $117 million in capital investment.  

“Those numbers represent the most extensive single manufacturing investment in Bedford’s history,” said Hooper.  

“Shelbyville and Bedford County have momentum,” he said.  

In the past year, the partnership worked on more than 20 manufacturing projects, representing over 1,000 jobs and $650 million in capital investment. Hooper said capital investment is important because it gets taxed.  

“That provides the revenue we need for our city and for our county without having to raise taxes on the individuals,” he explained. “That’s why economic development is so important.

Workforce development  

More than half of Bedford’s high school graduates go directly into the workforce. Hooper said this is why connecting the classroom to local jobs opportunities is crucial for workforce development.  

“Not everyone knows the opportunities right here in Shelbyville, Bedford,” said Hooper.  

The Partnership has made connections with Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Motlow Community College, Meharry Medical College, Trevecca Nazarene, as well as the Bedford County School System.  

Hooper also talked about the $260,000 health lab at Community High School to give students hands-on experience through vocational education.  

“I understand the work we do today affects children; it affects our future. Our kids today deserve to come up in a Shelbyville and a Bedford that is a better place than it was 10, 20, 40 years ago,” he said.  

“I will stack what we have in our rural area of Shelbyville and Bedford against any metropolitan area when it comes to workforce development,” Hooper said.  

Attracting a good workforce also involves creating a good quality of life. Hooper said the partnership are currently working in support of three hotel projects, six restaurant opportunities, and two potential grocery stores. These are “quality of life solutions.”  

“Young people of Shelbyville and Bedford expect these offerings. For most of us, Starbucks and some other things like that are niceties. For young folks, that’s quality of life,” he said. 

 “Success comes with a price,” said Hooper.  

Awards  

During the Path Forward event, Duksan Electera, through the ShelbyvilleBedford Community Foundation donated $2,400 to Thomas Magnet School (to be used for their playground equipment), $1,200 to BCS’s AP Art Portfolio students, and $1,400 in support of Unity Day.  

The Partnership also awarded Silicon Ranch for their donation of 30 acres to the Foundation.  

“The 30 acres represented a significant and integral step in the recruitment of Duksan Electera America... We wouldn’t have had enough property to fit the size and scope of what Duksan Electera was looking for,” said Hooper.  

Scott Matthews accepted the award, saying, “We are a part of this community. The next 40 years, we’re going to be here with that plant. We are Shelbyville, Bedford County.”  

Final thoughts  

Overall, Hooper said one of the goal of the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership is to provide a business-friendly environment.  

“It pleases me when we go out to these business retention and expansion visits and plant managers tell us about corporate headquarters support for them right here in Shelbyville and Bedford. As long as they are getting new programs and equipment in that plant, that tells me that plant here is being successful. That tells me that plant is highly unlikely to leave,” he said.  

Hooper added that when cities recruit advanced manufacturing it comes with the benefit of having another 2.5 jobs to support every job that is created.  

“I’ve heard the question before, ‘Shane, what are you guys doing for small business.’ Even more if you give me the opportunity.”  

Another initiative is to promote agricultural business.  

“And we are incorporating them into the economic success,” said Hooper.  

They also want to provide valuable relationships with local construction teams. “We are the model for public-private partnerships, and we are winning,” he said. 

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