By MIKE WEST/Courier Editor
Cannon County could be on the verge of substantial economic growth, state Rep. Mark Pody told members of the Industrial Development Board Tuesday (Aug. 6) night.
"There are things that can be done," Pody said. "I want to work with you and discover what your expectations are for me and what you want me as a state representative to do.
"Not saying anything bad about Cannon County, but we (state government) have to be involved on the front end" of any pushes toward development, the state Representative said. "We have to get Cannon County more vocal."
Numerous state and federal programs are available to help Cannon County grow economically, but in the past there has been little effort to reach out locally, he said.
"I don't want to be working on one thing that is not your goal," Pody explained, "My goal is to represent you.
"Today, actually, we had a meeting with an organ-ization from Cannon County that did not know of the changes in your committee and came directly to me. I can say at least we have a company here who is trying to do market products overseas. So there are things happening in your county," he said.
"I have got a feeling that this county is almost like on the verge … what's going to happen next. You've got to jump, but you have to be sure you jump the right way," Pody said. "In the past, you didn't really plan anything. It just happened."
The IDB is now in a position to do planning to look for businesses expanding and to determine what this county will look like in five years, 10 years and not just worry about next week, he said.
"Is there an industry you are targeting or are you just saying whatever?" Pody asked.
"One stand that we have taken, Mark, is that we won't be an incubator. We don't want start-ups, we can't afford the start-ups," said IDB member Dean More.
So often start-up companies really don't really have the funds available to succeed and Cannon County just can't afford that, More said.
"We want a business that's up and running and looking for someplace to expand. We want them to have a track record and a credit record," he explained.
Pody suggested that the IDB might look at companies now operating in Mexico that relocated there and are now thinking about coming back to the U.S.
One thing that must be kept in mind is Cannon County's limited resources including sewerage systems and water systems, IDB secretary Corey Davenport pointed out.
"What we would like to see is like a Crain or a Global where you've got 25 to a 100 people. I think anything over that would tax the infrastructure and you are going to have a problem finding sufficient people to actually put them in there," said IDB member David Vance.
A mix of automotive suppliers would be ideal due to Cannon County's proximity to major auto builders in Smyrna, Spring Hill and Chattanooga, he said.
"When you look at a map, you will find that we are right smack in the middle of that area, yet we have only one automotive supplier and that's Global," Vance said.
Warehouse distribution is also another business ideal for Cannon County, he suggested.
Bess Rickman, representing TVA's economic development office, was also present at the session offering an overview of programs TVA is offering including free technical services.
"When you say free services, it got my attention," IDB chairman Randall Reid said.
The IDB also elected officers for the next fiscal year.
Reid was picked as chairman, Neal Appelbaum as vice chairman, Corey Davenport as secretary and Mindy Gunter as treasurer.
IDB attorney Sumner Bouldin told the board members that a final agreement is close with customer THC Select.