Woodbury Battles China For Jobs

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Town of Woodbury Mayor Harold Patrick, left, and Cannon County Executive Mike Gannon, discuss the potential of new business and industry for the county and Town of Woodbury during the Cannon County Business Forum (April 7).
Individuals unfortunate to be without jobs are not the only ones looking for work during what has been the worst recession since The Great Depression.

Count the Town of Woodbury and Cannon County among those municipalities nationally looking to attract industry and business in hopes of stabilizing local economy and creating more job opportunities.

Town of Woodbury Mayor Harold Patrick is even willing to compete with China to bring new business to the city.

Patrick said he will meet with officials from Care2 Medical, a company specializing in emergency medical response products that improve pre-hospital patient care, in the near future about the possibility of relocating from Costa Mesa, Calif., to Woodbury.

“We are not competing (with other counties in Tennessee). We are competing with China for this particular plant,” Patrick said. “A classmate of mine (Medford Bragg)  is friends with the Care2 Medical President Steve Islava. They are willing to come here and talk. I’ve been in contact and we are setting up a meeting. I’m excited about them visiting here and seeing what we have to offer. That decision is down the road but it is never too early to start talking about the process.”

State and local officials took part in the first Cannon County Business Forum, sponsored by the Cannon County Republican Party, at the Cannon County Courthouse Thursday (April 7).

State Sen. Mae Beavers, State Rep. Mark Pody, Cannon County Executive Mike Gannon and Don Rigsby, a job development specialist with the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development, as well as a representative from Rep. Diane Black’s office, were on hand for the forum.

They assured those in attendance they are working hard to attract new business and industry to Cannon County and the Town of Woodbury.

“We do know things are picking up and companies are moving,” Pody said. “We want to be able to capture these companies as they are looking to move. What I’m looking for is, Who is going to be here three years from now and have we gotten ourselves ready to attract that company?

“I’m very willing to go out and recruit and help these companies come to Cannon County, but I’m hoping Cannon County will tell me what kind of industry, what kind of jobs they are ready for, and that includes the infrastructure, where you are putting them. Just going out and saying we want jobs is not enough.”

Gannon said recognizing strengths and weaknesses is key when recruiting new industry and business.

“We have to identify the industry we can possibly get. We don’t need to ignore our weaknesses as they are as important as our strengths,” Gannon said. “If you are planning for the future you need to know both. Our weakness is we don’t have an interstate; we do not have a railroad through Cannon County; we do not have a river big enough that barges can come; and we don’t have an airport.

“Our strengths outweigh our weaknesses if we identify the right possible industry. Our strength is standard of living. We also have an economic community development and we have workers available with a strong work ethic.”

Gannon and Patrick had encouraging information in terms of jobs. THC Select, a plastic injection molding company making food storage containers for hospitals across the country, recently began operation on Alexander Drive in Woodbury. THC Select occupied the building vacated when Cumberland Molded Products LLC closed shop. According to Gannon, Florida-based THC also will consider moving its entire operation to Woodbury within the next two-to-three years.

“We have to be honest and look at the industry we can get,” Gannon said. “We are not going to get a Nissan or a Bridgestone, and we are probably not going to get a second-tier to one of those. What we have been successful doing is getting suppliers for those second-tier companies.”

Bringing industry to Cannon County and creating new jobs for its citizens is paramount on the agenda of elected officials.

“We want to see the town grow,” Patrick said. “We have empty buildings on the Square and we want to put people in those buildings. The Town of Woodbury will do its part.”

Patrick also pointed out there has been a slight bump in Town of Woodbury sales tax revenue during the previous three months - a barometer of more people spending money inside the city limits.

Gannon pointed out visitors who attend events at the Fairground’s Expo Center and on the Square are spending their money locally to purchase gas and food.

“Anything that brings people to town helps,” Gannon said. “As of right now we have 17 events coming into the (Expo Center) and there are several events planned around the Square. Those are events that bring a lot of people into our town.”

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