Editorial: State will benefit from local visionary
Oct 27, 2013 | 700 views | 0 0 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
And now, the rest of Tennessee will get a fresh perspective, and a much appreciated one, on how the Cleveland and Bradley County community has gone about recruiting new faces in business and industry to our hometown.

In turn, local economic development leaders will learn from other communities — towns, counties and government jurisdictions from across the Volunteer State who too have been successful in luring companies to their regions ... especially over the past few years. This is the same period in which our residents have welcomed the arrival of Wacker Polysilicon North America, Amazon and most recently the new, state-of-the-art Whirlpool Cleveland Division manufacturing facility.

Of course, this is not to exclude another industrial giant, the massive Volkswagen facility just across the Hamilton County line which came here as much as a regional employer as one targeting just Chattanooga and its immediate perimeter.

All this new information sharing, and strategic synergies, will come because a well-respected Cleveland resident has been named to a lofty position at the state level.

He is Gary Farlow, president and chief executive officer of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, who has been appointed president of the Tennessee Economics Development Council board of directors for the 2013-14 year. As recently announced by our newspaper, Farlow was selected to the post at TEDC’s annual fall conference in Brentwood.

It is no surprise this longtime Chamber of Commerce and economic development leader has been named to such a pivotal statewide post. Most have heard this adage before, “Success breeds success.” Or put still another way, “Success builds upon itself.”

Since joining the local Chamber of Commerce in 2002, and then becoming its president and CEO in 2008 to succeed the retiring Jerry Bohannon, Farlow has compiled an impressive list of local successes. Supported by the professionalism of Doug Berry, vice president of Economic Development, a forward-thinking Chamber staff, and the community-minded members of the Cleveland/Bradley Industrial Development Board and Economic Development Council, Farlow has steered our community down a reliable path of growth, diversity and perhaps most importantly, opportunity.

We won’t cite numbers or compelling statistics to prove our point; as they say, the proof is in the pudding. But it is an accepted belief within the economic development arena that new business is attracted to any community where other new businesses have set up shop, and succeeded.

Obviously, other factors influence such decisions as well: Incentives by local and state governments, tax rates, quality of available workforce, community college and four-year university partnerships, in some cases a state’s “Right to Work” status, usable property, quick access to utility services (electricity, water and wastewater) and utility rates, and proximity to interstate, airport and rail transportation.

Thankfully, and through the efforts of many people including Farlow, Cleveland and Bradley County traditionally scores high — or at least competitively — in each of the above categories.

Frankly, elevating Farlow to TEDC’s lead board position is, to use another cliche, a “no brainer.”

The good news with such an appointment is the entirety of Tennessee will benefit from one man’s vision. Likewise, Farlow — as any leader in his position would do — will keep his ears perked, eyes focused and mind open to the innovative measures used by other communities to attract their own new faces in business, industry and professional service.

It is always exciting to see Cleveland and Bradley County visionaries ascend to posts of prominence at the state level. It assures mutual learning. And with learning comes ... may we use this word again, “opportunity.”

Regardless of community and its geographic locale, “opportunity” is key to growth. Such opportunity is not a given, nor is it a gift. It is earned.

We congratulate Gary Farlow on this new position of responsibility. It is a win-win. The state will gain from his invaluable experience. Our community will benefit by his willingness to learn from others.

Success breeds success.

Our hometown’s future is getting even brighter.