COMMENTARY: Campaign NOW For Cannon County Jobs

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How often does the opportunity for Cannon County to add a substantial number of new jobs come along?

If you’re talking about 25 to 50 jobs, it’s about a handful every 10 years to 25 years. If it’s 100 to 200, it’s only happened twice in the last 100 years to my knowledge.

Ask anyone from President Barack Obama to Governor Bill Haslam to Cannon County Executive Mike Gannon and Woodbury Mayor Harold Patrick, and they will tell you the No. 1 need and the top priority for the United States, for the State of Tennessee, for Cannon County and for Woodbury are jobs and job creation.

The federal and state governments have departments and agencies whose primary responsibility is to attract industry and supply funding for jobs, facilities and equipment.

Each year they spend millions, if not billions, of dollars in doing so.

Cannon County has been presented with the opportunity to add 25 jobs at a minimum and as many as 200 within the next one to three years. 25 jobs would have a significant impact on Cannon County, which has an unemployment rate just short of 10 percent. 100 to 200 jobs would give this county a tremendous economic lift.

Cobb Home Innovations, a company owned and operated by a local couple, Joyce and Hugh Cobb, have presented the opportunity for jobs to the county, state and federal governments. They have developed a unique, first-of-its-kind, product that has the potential to attract a worldwide market, and which can be used in homes and businesses throughout the planet.

Everyone I know of who has seen this product, lighted décor tiles, is almost immediately impressed by not only the technology behind it, but its potential for sales in the home and business-building and remodeling industries as well.

The Cobbs need help, in the form of low-interest loans, to begin production of the tiles. They need the money to acquire a building, purchase machinery, hired and train an initial workforce, and do marketing.

They also want to manufacture the product in their home community, Cannon County, so that the jobs their company provides will benefit Cannon County citizens. They are committed to that goal so deeply that they pray it comes about. They don’t pray for financial successful; they pray for being about to help their fellow community members.

The amount needed for startup is around $1.5 million. While that is a lot of money to me and most people I know, in the big picture it’s a trivial amount.

I realize economic times are tough. I know that governments are struggling with budgets in the red. That said, I also know that government spending on just the federal level is in the tens of billions of dollars PER DAY. Given that, it certainly seems reasonably to expect that the money can easily be found to finance this project.

Keep in mind, the Cobbs aren’t asking for a grant or gift from the taxpayers. If the project is successful taxpayers well will receive every penny back, with interest. Plus, more jobs will bring in tens of thousands of dollars yearly to local businesses and governments.

The way I see it, everyone in Cannon County in a position to do so should apply strong and persistent pressure on local elected officials, state officials and federal officials to provide the Cobbs with the funds needed to start manufacturing.

Those persons who care about the present and future of Cannon County, care about jobs for Tennessee and America, need to step up and jump on this rare chance to walk the talk. If they don’t, they are letting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass us by.

And if they don’t, it will be a strong mark against them if they seek re-election.

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Members Opinions:
September 19, 2011 at 12:07pm
I am in agreement with you Kevin. This does not only have an opportunity to present jobs to our community but a chance for some local businesses to be able to grow with the economic advantages possible.

By putting people to work in our county it could free up funds for people to purchase items from many of the numerous businesses on the square or throughout the county.

Before those opposed to the idea of our county helping to fund this employment opportunity. I would like to point out that when Lebanon spent over $4 million in order to run a sewer system to the Speedway their citizens were all up in arms, but now they have several plants and warehouses located along 840 that bring over $4 million in revenue to Wilson County. It could happen with this project as well and the county would get their money back plus interest. This benefits us all.
September 19, 2011 at 2:24pm
I am pleased to have learned today that Mike Gannon is actively seeking assistance from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to acquire funding. IDB member Randy Barrett and myself discussed the various options with Gannon for over an hour Saturday. Barrett tells me he has located the machinery of the type needed by the Cobbs, obtainable at less cost than if purchased new. Barrett also says Rep. Pody continues to work on finding funding. Gannon indicates any final decision on state help would come from the head of the ECD, Bill Hagerty, who works under Gov. Haslam.
September 19, 2011 at 3:37pm
I am extremely glad to see the Cobbs try to help bring jobs to Cannon County. I am thrilled at the idea of 25 to 200 possible jobs in the future and I hope our elected officials will do everything within their power to help make this happen.

Although they may not be asking for a grant or a gift from the taxpayers, I do think it is prudent and makes good business sense for the County Commissioners to offer them an incentive to keep their business located right here for many years to come.

I would suggest a couple of things to entice them:

1. A tax break if 80% or more of the people hired live inside Cannon County.

2. A tax break if the pay scale for their employees reaches a certain level within 5 years.

3. A tax break if they are supporting local events such as the Good Ole Days, extracurricular activities like Jr. Pro or Dixie Youth programs for example.

4. A tax break if they maintain the grounds around their facility to ensure it does not pollute or damage our environment in any way.

These are just a few items I can think of and the amount of the tax break could vary. It doesn't have to be a huge tax break, but everything helps and it is a win for Cannon County in the long run. Especially if 8 out of 10 people hired live inside the county.
September 19, 2011 at 5:16pm
I am so excited to see this opportunity come to Cannon County. I am also very grateful to the Cobbs for sharing their dream with our community. We are a family, so when one wins, we all win! While most of us are not in a position to help financially, we can all pray. I will be praying for their/our success.
September 19, 2011 at 6:49pm
Excellent suggestions Corey.

I firmly believe that if a citizen of Cannon County realized the potential benefits to the county, one which come at a minimal risk and investment, they would pull money out of their own pockets and give it to the Cobbs.

I also firmly believe the Cobbs would turn around and invest that money for the betterment of the county and its citizens.

I would respectfully urge the person, who will eventually decide if it is worth the state investing in a significant portion of this project, to grab the bull by the horns and demonstrate leadership.

Cannon County isn't the largest in the state in terms of population and voters, but fairness means equal consideration of the needs of every and all counties.

I also want that person to come to Cannon County and accept my thanks and appreciation if the state can arrange the funding.

If not, I want him or her to give me a reasonable explanation as to why Cannon County should not have the jobs that will, without a doubt, go someplace, somewhere within the near future.
September 20, 2011 at 8:40am
Kevin who do you refer to when you say:

"I would respectfully urge the person, who will eventually decide if it is worth the state investing in a significant portion of this project, to grab the bull by the horns and demonstrate leadership"?

September 20, 2011 at 12:58pm
I don't know the answer to that question yet.
September 20, 2011 at 2:02pm
OK I thought you mean locally.

But, speaking of locally, what needs to be done from the Cannon County side of it and who needs to do it?
September 20, 2011 at 2:33pm
County Executive Gannon says the options the county has available if to provide existing building space, possibly build a building at some point, provided tax or rent fee breaks, and possibly the IDB can purchase equipment and rent it to the company.
September 21, 2011 at 7:02am
We should make sure these folks have at hand the expertize to enable them to seek out the assistance the federal government gives to small business start ups.
For instance:
The SBA had a program called the 7(a) loan program which allows loans of $2 million dollars to small businesses backed by the federal government. It had a temporarily guarantee 90% of those loans, instead of 75%-85%, in order to encourage banks to lend.
SBA also had a program called the 504 program which guarantees $4 million worth of economic development loans to small businesses.
At one time small businesses that created jobs for unemployed veterans who have been out of work for more than six months and unemployed students who have been out of school for more than six months would get tax credits.
Small businesses can sometimes expense or write off certain qualified plant and equipment purchases during a calendar year. This is called a Section 179 deduction.
Community banks were given funds to encourage them to assist small business start ups.
Are these advantages still available now? They were all part and parcel of the recent Stimulus Act and designed to help small businesses create jobs across the United States.
Cannon County can and must assist by putting together its own stimulus package for the new and worthwhile endeavor.
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