COMMENTARY: Campaign NOW For Cannon County Jobs

KEVIN HALPERN, Courier Co-Editor

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.