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The (Almost) Rest of the Story
By: George Halford | 06.09.15

It seems like it was just yesterday that I would be driving somewhere listening to the radio, when the late broadcasting giant Paul Harvey would come on the air and tease me with a homily about a person, place, event, or thing.  Then, before cutting to a commercial break, he would leave me in suspense for what he called “the rest of the story” when he returned.  More often than not “the rest of the story” was very enlightening, inspirational, or at least entertaining.

Today, in the celebration and afterglow of the Ficosa North America announcement, the first new industry physically located in the Highlands Business Park (Academy Sports + Outdoors location was because of the Highlands Business Park and new 5th interchange), We want to briefly share with our citizens selected, previously unreported background events and decisions during the process that led to victory!

First, some quick facts, Ficosa is a privately held, global, tier one auto supplier, headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, who makes mirrors and mirror assemblies.  They sell directly to most of the major automobile companies (Ford, Chevy, Volkswagen, Nissan, etc.), have a 60% plus market share, and are the undisputed leader in their field.  Ficosa currently has nearby operations in Crossville, Tennessee, and Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Their North American headquarters is in Madison Heights, Michigan.

A little over two years ago, a senior Crossville Ficosa Executive approached then-Economic Development Vice President Lillian Hartgrove about the possibility of the Highlands Business Park being considered as a new location alternative if the company chose not to expand in Crossville or Bowling Green.  Mexico was also considered in-play as a potential site.

We also learned that 120 Putnam County citizens commuted daily to Crossville to work for Ficosa.  After conferring with our City and County government partners, the consensus was we were in a “zero sum game” and that a company decision other than Crossville would mean loss of jobs for our citizens, and probably a loss of an industry for the Upper Cumberland and state of Tennessee to either Kentucky or Mexico.

It was a Solomon-like decision for us, and at best was very awkward.  Cookeville-Putnam County is arguably the capital of the Upper Cumberland, the center of higher education, commerce, etc., and we take an enlightened, regional approach, supporting our neighbors in all economic development activities.  That is who we are!

As it is with most projects, we had to sign a confidentiality agreement precluding us from even collaborating with our Cumberland County neighbors to keep the project in our region.  We then submitted our incentive proposal to the company. 

The project ebbed and flowed as company leaders worked through potential options internally to finalize their decision. Our strategy was to play a passive yet supportive role, but stay in regular communication with the company.

During that time, additional positive developments occurred which reinforced the correctness of our mutual local decision, Panasonic acquired 49% of Ficosa, bringing world-class electronic technology to the company, and the project grew in size from 550 to near 1000 jobs. 

Patience, excellent customer service, confidentiality, superb local government leadership, teamwork, and a correct strategy paid off once again for our community and region!

And that, is (almost), the rest of the story.

“Good day!”