This week has been big for economic development in Wilson County, and according to G.C. Hixson, executive director of the Joint Economic and Community Development Board of Wilson County, the future looks bright.
The Democrat’s confirmation Thursday of Starbucks’ anticipated move into Wilson County was the icing on the proverbial cake in recent economic developments both in the works and in the future all across the county.
In addition to Starbucks’ announcement it will build a 600,000-plus distribution center near State Route 840 and employ about 150 workers over the next three years, Pier 1 Imports broke ground on a multi-million building project on a new nearly 10,000-square-feet retaill store in Mt. Juliet.
Couple that with news Hixson gave Wilson County realtors Thursday that Wilson County is poised for growth both economically and in population, and it’s the mixture that creates optimism we are in store for great things on the horizon.
“When we talk about economic development in Wilson County, it’s a win-win,” Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said Thursday about the Starbucks announcement. “It’s a win because it brings jobs, and it’s a win because it brings sales tax, which means more money for our schools. It continues to refuel itself.
“I think it’s important to applaud people like G.C. Hixson and Tammy Stokes at the economic development office. These things don’t just happen. It takes a lot of work. This is another example that Wilson County is the place to be.”
And just as economic development in the form of adding an industry is happening on the east side, retail development is going on in west Wilson County.
“We are delighted to be bringing a new Pier 1 Imports store location to the Providence West shopping center,” Pier 1 Imports CEO Alex Smith said Wednesday on the occasion of a groundbreaking ceremony for the new decorative home furnishings store. “We look forward to sharing our unique merchandise and one-of-a-kind store experience to the residents of Mt. Juliet and the surrounding communities.”
Names such as Starbucks, Pier 1 and Amazon are recognized globally, and it’s apparent Wilson County is the place to be when these global leaders want to call it home.
On Thursday, Hixson brought encouraging news to the Eastern Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors during the group’s annual meeting.
“We are blessed with diversified jobs in Wilson County,” he said.
But Hixson stressed there are several factors that encourage continued economic growth, most of which Wilson County is also blessed to have.
We have a capable and educated pool with which to draw skilled laborers, as well as fill white-collar positions. We have available properties ready for new companies, coupled with a vast amount of land ready for construction.
It’s important, however, our local government sees this growth and prepares for the future with a proactive approach. This includes preparations for new, larger schools to house an ever-growing number of school-age children. Most importantly, it means maintaining and increasing Wilson County’s infrastructure.
Hixson said several sites along the eastern connector near Mt. Juliet are ripe for industries’ picking. But access is the key.
“I can take a TVA helicopter and look into the promise land, but I can’t get to it,” he said. “We cannot sell from an empty wagon. We need homes, parks, industrial development.”
We are poised for great things in Wilson County, but we must be prepared. Otherwise, we could be missing out on everything Wilson County can be.