Editor’s Note: UC’s southern charm provides economic edge

What a week for the Upper Cumberland, amirite? White County just landed a $64 million deal to create 200 new jobs for the area. And, just this morning, I received word that automotive supplier DENSO will invest in a $1 billion facility in Maryville, creating 1,000 jobs. Although Maryville is not in our UC region, it’s still big news for Tennessee.

For me, seeing this growth and development in our state is more than just numbers on paper. The stats are impressive, sure, but it’s more than that.

Every time a notice of a new industrial or manufacturing tenant choosing to call the UC home hits my inbox, it means that another person, another family, will have a chance to thrive – not just survive. It means that a family will have the opportunity to be able to finally afford their own home or be able to provide the funds and resources needed to one day see their child become the first in their family to graduate college.

As a kid, I watched as factories in my hometown packed up and left for Mexico, or folded altogether. I watched the rippling effects just one company’s closure could have on an entire community. I witnessed first-hand the devastating effects the loss of these factories and, ultimately, loss of employment can have on families and communities.

I also watched as friends and neighbors dusted themselves off and rallied to reinvest in their communities. Once-dilapidated town squares are again fast-becoming the bustling, thriving hubs for rural communities and the homes for new mom-and-pop shops and boutiques. Now, practically every county in the UC has at least one accredited community college or trade school within its borders; ready to prepare today’s students for the jobs of tomorrow.

Thanks also to the tireless work of local, regional and state leadership, our communities stand ready to welcome those manufacturers, suppliers and industry leaders looking for the perfect place to call home; not just for their respective facilities but also for the people who will keep them running.

As the economy continues to strengthen and companies continue to confidently invest in America, and in Tennessee, I hope that those investors will always remember what initially drew them to the state. And, that we will continue to be that gracious host long after the ribbons are cut and the “new” wears off.

During the unveiling of Hörmann, LLC’s plans Thursday, the company’s managing partner, Christoph Hörmann reflected on the Tennessee hospitality he and his team have been met with since day one.

“I am really overwhelmed (with) the Tennessee hospitality,” he said. “It’s really special… you have a special state and you are special people.”

Sure, it’s easy to look good on paper. But, at the end of the day, our actions and our attitudes are what set us apart. We can have neatly packaged, logoed binders filled with impressive stats and figures ready to hand out to anyone who asks. What sets us apart is that we’d prefer to discuss our demographics and infrastructure with you over the family dinner table, instead of the corporate conference table.

Amye is the managing editor for the UCBJ and can be reached at amye@ucbjournal.com.