Chamber director gives rundown of Clay County economic outlook

 

By RAY NORRIS

While the past twelve months have been demanding, stressful, challenging and sometimes unrewarding we are still in the game and I feel that Clay County’s future is becoming brighter on the horizon.

 

The Proctor Creek bridge replacement contract was awarded on Friday, August 7th to Mountain States Construction in the amount of $5.1 million. This bridge is but a stone’s throw from our new high school and once the project is completed the potential liability of collision on the bridge is significantly reduced. This project will include straightening the section of Highway 52 from the bridge up to Walker Hill as well as replacing the Proctor Creek Bridge which was built in 1930 and is dangerously narrow. The deadline for completion of this project is November 2010. 

 

You may recall a contingent of Clay County officials went to Nashville to meet with the TDOT commissioner and his staff in December 2008 to draw their attention to this problem. At the end of the meeting Commissioner Nicely stated that this bridge project was a very good candidate for stimulus money being appropriated by Congress. (Looks like Commissioner Nicely was right.) At a meeting this past Thursday the contractor was given the final approval to begin this week posting the required caution signs and getting on with the fifteen month project.

 

On a somewhat smaller scale the repaving of Brown Street from the bypass through town and around the square has just been completed. Prior to the repaving TDOT has ground the road surface down to alleviate the significant drainage problems in some areas that have plagued downtown for many years. Now that this is done the road looks new and fresh and is a smooth drive.

 

Corridor J

 

The contract for the Corridor J project (one of two phases) in Clay County was let on September 18 to Bizzack Construction for $30.1 million and when the Corridor J project is completed will include a completely new entrance to Celina coming down the hill next to the Cumberland River Hospital. The project will begin at the Clay/Overton line and will provide a new four lane “straightened” route which will open up new opportunities for economic development as well as a more inviting and safe entrance to the county and city. This project is scheduled to be completed by November 30, 2012. The remaining contract is scheduled to be let in May of next year and will likely cost another $30 million. The road and bridge projects will provide employment for some Clay County residents as well as generate additional business for local stores, restaurants and lodging as well as increasing state sales tax revenue for Celina and Clay County.

 

Shopping

 

Residents and tourists will be provided with more choices and opportunities for shopping in Clay County with the opening of the Subway sandwich shop this past July, the Ain’t That Nice antique store on the square recently opened, and the new Dollar General under construction on the bypass. 

 

Earlier this year the county signed an agreement with the V&F Transformer Corporation from Bartlett (IL) to relocate to the Hevi Duty facility in Celina which was donated to the county earlier this year. V&F will be moving their production to Celina as their order rate and the economy improve. There are additional opportunities currently being developed with other companies that could add more jobs for Clay County residents and improve our local economy in the future.

 

Three-Star recognition

 

Clay County was certified as a Tennessee 3 Star County on Friday, August 14 and awarded the 3 Star plaque by Governor Bredesen on September 15 at the conclusion of the Governor’s Economic and Community Development Conference in Nashville. We have been working on this goal for two years and are proud to put Clay County with the other 90 counties that have achieved this goal. This certification brings benefits to the city and county as well as to the businesses by reducing the matching portion on many of the grants by three percentage points. Each year all counties must pass re-certification in all areas of measurement in order to retain standing as a Tennessee 3 Star County. (SEE PHOTO BELOW)

As I said earlier, the past twelve months have been troublesome, but I choose to say that our glass is half full as positive results overshadow the negative when looking at the big picture. However, we still have a ways to go with the overall economy, the unemployment rate, attracting additional new business, downtown renovation and other opportunities that need attention. Given that the positive events mentioned here have begun while the country and the world have been mired in a deep recession, I think Clay County has fared better than most counties in the state and even in the country. Count our blessings.

 

 

THREE-STAR RECOGNITION-A delegation from Clay County was recognized at the Governor's Economic and Community Development Conference in Nashville earlier this month for the county's recent achievement of becoming a "Three-Star Community." Pictured here with Gov. Phil Bredesen are a group of Clay County High School students from the PYLI leadership program, a group from the Clay Adult Leadership program,  school faculty members, representatives from the Upper Cumberland Development District, representatives from CTAS & U.T. Extension, ECD Commissioner Matt Kisber, Asst. ECD Commissioner Rick Meredith, state Senator Mae Beavers, Celina Mayor Willie Kerr and Ray Norris from the Clay County Chamber. (Photo courtesy governor's office)

THREE-STAR RECOGNITION-A delegation from Clay County was recognized at the Governor's Economic and Community Development Conference in Nashville earlier this month for the county's recent achievement of becoming a "Three-Star Community." Pictured here with Gov. Phil Bredesen are a group of Clay County High School students from the PYLI leadership program, a group from the Clay Adult Leadership program, school faculty members, representatives from the Upper Cumberland Development District, representatives from CTAS & U.T. Extension, ECD Commissioner Matt Kisber, Asst. ECD Commissioner Rick Meredith, state Senator Mae Beavers, Celina Mayor Willie Kerr and Ray Norris from the Clay County Chamber. (Photo courtesy governor's office)