Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland highlighted positive job growth and progress on road projects during his presentation to Bradley Sunrise Rotary on Thursday.
“I am proud to live in a community when we have teamwork,” Rowland said. “No one person can do it all.”
He said the community has seen industrial growth over the past five years. Industrial investments during this time totaled $2.6 billion. This created 1,600 new jobs and retained thousands more.
“Our job growth came from such companies as Wacker, Whirlpool, Amazon, Mars Chocolate, Merck, Procter & Gamble Duracell, Coca-Cola, Flowers Bakery, Renfro Industries and Star Plex, to name only a few,” Rowland said.
Rowland said Cleveland saw the largest increase for any area in Tennessee tourism revenue last year. Cleveland saw $122 million in tourism revenue.
Companies taking up shop in formerly vacant storefronts downtown have also helped the Cleveland economy, Rowland said.
New revenue has come to the city in the form of jet fuel sales at the new Cleveland Regional jetport competed earlier this year. Rowland said an international board of directors meeting held in Cleveland a few months ago had nine planes landing at the Jetport.
“They purchased $31,000 worth of fuel. That was a good customer,” Rowland said.
Expansions of current industries attracts other businesses to the area because it shows the industry can be successful, Rowland said.
“The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks Cleveland/Bradley County as fourth in the nation in its 2013 best cities for job growth listing,” Rowland said.
With job and industry growth comes the need for better infrastructure. Exit 20 and local interstate connections are a part of these improvements.
Rowland said the Exit 20 project will take a few years as it provides needed traffic flow improvements and adds more lanes.
“The South LIC will go into a commercial and industrial development of several hundred acres,” Rowland said. “When the LIC North is completed it will strictly open up the neighborhoods to the north and make it easier for those folks to get out onto the interstate.”
He said additional industrial property is needed to keep businesses coming to the area.
“It is just heartbreaking to chamber economic development people and the county mayor and myself to say to an industry, ‘I’m sorry. We don’t have room for you.’ But fortunately some day we will,” Rowland said.
A good working relationship with state legislators has also been an asset to the Cleveland community, according to Rowland.
The latest example is seen in joint efforts toward the Cleveland Bradley County State Veterans Home.
Rowland said that while the project “hit a snag” when the State of Tennessee Real Estate and Asset Management office listed four concerns with he proposed site for the veterans home, all of the issues can be addressed.
“Partnerships within the community make it strong. The team we have between city government, county government and the Chamber of Commerce works together for a common gaol, and that’s to make our city a better place to live and work,” Rowland said.
According to the mayor, 312 luxury apartments have opened within the last year, and all of them have been rented.
Rowland was first elected mayor in 1991, and is in his fifth term. He currently serves as vice-chairman for the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations and the Tennessee Municipal Bond fund. Rowland is the only Tennessee city mayor serving on the Homeland Security Council.
Rowland is a U.S. Air Force veteran.