Berry: Officials court new manufacturers
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Banner Staff Writer
Apr 14, 2013 | 588 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DOUG BERRY, vice president of economic development at the Cleveland Bradley Chamber of Commerce, speaks about efforts to attract new companies to Bradley County at Thursday’s Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club meeting.
DOUG BERRY, vice president of economic development at the Cleveland Bradley Chamber of Commerce, speaks about efforts to attract new companies to Bradley County at Thursday’s Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club meeting.
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Doug Berry, vice president of economic development at the Cleveland Bradley Chamber of Commerce, said he and his office have been trying to attract new manufacturers to Bradley County, including one that could be in partnership with Volkswagen in Chattanooga.

During his speech to fellow members of the Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club Thursday, he celebrated the area’s growth while sharing several ways he said it might continue to grow.

“We still have a long way to go as a community,” Berry said. “But I think we’re in a position where we can capitalize on a lot of the opportunities that are brewing because of the success Chattanooga and Cleveland have enjoyed.”

He said companies like Wacker, M&M Mars, Renfro, United Knitting and Amazon have invested billions of dollars in the community since 2009, which has proven to be attractive to new companies looking to move to the area.

One of the most recent developments he mentioned was a “joint effort” with Chattanooga’s economic development office to bring more manufacturers to the area with the view that one city having more manufacturers come to the area would benefit the other.

Berry said Chattanooga has sold most of its available sites for manufacturing plants, but there is still room in Bradley County for companies wanting to settle close to Chattanooga.

“They are helping us market our real estate,” Berry said.

A company on which Chattanooga has focused much if its energy is German-owned car company Volkswagen. a

Berry said both cities are interested in providing space for more companies that could manufacture products used in the production of the cars. However, he said the Chamber would be careful in providing space to companies that may become unionized because of how things work at their parent companies overseas.

“We’re more than happy to support their [Volkswagen’s] supply chain with one exception — not if they significantly threaten our nonunion status as a community,” Berry said. “We’re not here to bring the United Auto Workers. We will avoid them at all costs, even if it means passing on an investment.”

A German company that would provide products for Volkswagen to use in manufacturing was scheduled to visit Bradley County to look at potential properties in late April, said Berry.

He said the Chamber of Commerce has also been working to market a variety of properties to such companies, including the former Honeywell industrial site on 20th Street, a “brownfield site” that once housed a manufacturing plant that had to be torn down because it handled asbestos.

The land is available to use and could house a property of some 400,000 square feet.

Industrial sites on Durkee Road that can house plants of up to 600,000 square feet and properties in Charleston are also being marketed to manufacturers looking to invest in the area.

Berry also shared information with the club about upcoming improvements around Interstate 75 Exit 20 and the Spring Branch Industrial Park.

Also at the Bradley Sunrise Rotary meeting, the club announced a grant they had awarded to Women At The Well, a Christian organization for women facing addiction problems.

The club also inducted a new member, Tony Lombard, who is originally from Mobile, Ala., and works for an organization called On Point.

Members also decided upon ticket prices for the June 7 fundraising event at Bradley Central High School that will feature University of Tennessee coach Butch Jones. Tickets will be $25 each once they become available, and all proceeds will go to the club’s community programs.