“It’s great to be part of everything in Bradley County,” Davis told the audience of Sunrise Rotarians. “I just love to talk about Bradley County. ... There is a lot going on.”
Despite the tough economic times of past five years or so, Bradley County has been fortunate, he said, despite the fact county revenue has been “flat,” due to the recession.
But the mayor wasn’t complaining. Not by a long shot.
“Bradley County is weathering this storm,” he said.
For example, except for Bradley County, most of the other surrounding counties have been and still are in double-digit unemployment numbers.
Outside the city of Cleveland, construction numbers have reached $388 million, thanks to businesses such as Hardee’s, several dollar stores, convenience stores, and “a big one” — Wacker.
Within the city, $600 million in construction was partially do to such enterprises as the new Carmike theater at Bradley Square Mall, new restaurants, supermarkets, and other businesses.
“That’s a great sign we are moving out of the recession,” Davis said. He is also anticipating more jobs. And, he expects the upbeat job market to continue to grow. “It’s a very good sign.”
Since September 2010, 875 full-time jobs have been created here due to companies like Amazon, with almost 500 regular jobs, as well as Whirlpool and Duracell. And, that doesn’t take into consideration the 1,000 construction jobs at Wacker, he added.
Around 2,500 existing jobs were saved through the retention and/or expansion of such companies as Whirlpool, with 1,500 jobs; Olin, with 700 jobs; and Renfro, with 300 jobs. Many of these jobs were retained in Bradley County and the city of Cleveland due to PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) programs, as well as a genuine love of this area by company decision-makers.
Much of this success is due, the mayor said, to the county and the city working closely and cooperatively together. With other counties having had up to 12 or more percent unemployment, the county and the city are now at 6.8 percent according to the latest report.
“That’s pretty good,” Davis said.
And although the Wacker plant opening has been delayed, it will still open in the near future. The industrial park is another prime example of the continued growth of the county.
“But one of the most exciting things happening this coming year is at [Interstate 75] Exit 20,” Davis said.
And, the construction in the south is nearing completion, opening up lots of opportunity for more development. Plus, Dalton Pike is now almost completed. n
“Slowly, but it’s getting done. ... We’re moving forward.”
The new train depot was refurbished and reopened this past year as well, Davis reminded his audience.
“We’re very proud of it,” he said.
The Veterans Home also is progressing, with lots of activity, Davis said.
“We’re moving forward,” he said. “And, it is very much needed, with thousands of veterans in the area.”
One of the greatest things about this area is the Long-Term Recovery Organization that came about as a result of the disastrous storms and hurricanes on April 27, 2011.
“A good thing came out of a bad thing,” Davis said. The LTRO has remained in place so that the city and the county could respond quickly to any other possible disaster. “We realized we would have long-term needs.”
Over recent years, 36 more firefighters have been hired, the county mayor reported. And, a new firehall will be finished this May, he added.
“That’s a big thing,” he said.
The county also has a 2.9 percent job growth rate, with a median income of $40,000, Davis told the group.
“And we have a projected 37 percent job growth rate in the next 10 years,” he said. In addition, this area has a 7.7 percent lower cost of living rate than the national average, he added.
“Bradley County is a great place to live. ... Things are turning around and we are doing our part in Bradley County,” Davis said. “The future looks brighter than it has in years — and Bradley County will be prepared.”
In Sunrise Rotary business:
- Pastor Guinn Green, pastor of the Kinser Church of God, received a Paul Harris Fellow from Sunrise Rotary board member Cheryl Dunson in thanks and recognition of the pastor’s great help and spiritual guidance in caring for Dunson’s dad, Peter Green. Honorees, like Guinn Green, are people who meet high professional and personal standards set forth by Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary.
- The first Household Hazardous Waste Collection event sponsored by Bradley County and helped made possible with volunteers from the local Keep America Beautiful organization will be held March 2.