Chamber Chatter
By: Zach Buckner | 02.06.17


February 5, 2017
On your mark …..”Part II”
George Halford
President/CEO, Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce
Last month’s Chamber Chatter article began with 2017 brimming chocked full of economic development optimism as we mentioned 2 “probable” industrial prospects.  We also announced an expectation of final approval and groundbreaking for the major “new to retail” development, The Shoppes at Eagle Point.  Additionally, we celebrated  capture of the first annual Southern Backroads H.O.G. rally. The 8 state rally in Cookeville is predicted to attract up to 10,000 (yes, I said 10,000!) delegates in July for a week-long convention.  Most immediately important, a decision by TSSAA was imminent in mid-January concerning the location of the High School Football Championships for the next 4 year period.  Finalists were Cookeville-Putnam Co and TTU in competition with Clarksville and APSU.
Then I ran out of space. – So much happening, so as promised, below is “Part II”!
But, first, drum roll please! The 2017 “season “ started in January and our team is undefeated, 2-0.  Firstly, as has been reported, the TSSAA Board of Control awarded a 4 year extension to TTU, and this just in this week, win #2; a “new” I.T. employer, as announced today on the Herald-Citizen front page.
Win!  Celebrate! Then move on to the next game!  Now, back to part II.
But, let’s celebrate a little longer first, please!  Very appropriately, at the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting this Tuesday, TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd will be the keynote speaker.  The expected 500 attendees will celebrate 2016 with Chairman Don Viar. Incoming Chair, Jill Horner will unveil plans for 2017.  The timing could not be more perfect!
Now, on to the long awaited (18–20 years), much needed, and much anticipated Regional Transportation Project.  This is the new fifth interchange linking the Highlands Business Park with U.S. 70 N to downtown, Cookeville Regional Medical Center and Tennessee Tech University.  This is a new economic Development artery already responsible for FICOSA N.A. and Academy Sports locations.  It has generated significant additional activity and interest.  Completion is expected in October 2017.  
Yet another key project we expect to see finalized in 2017 is Auxin Development Group’s plan for a convention center hotel, new meeting space and significant additional parking on the West Side in downtown Cookeville.  Unofficial, preliminary estimates are a 120 room hotel with up to 20,000 square feet of meeting space, seating up to 1000 people for dinner receptions and additional breakout rooms for business meetings and conventions. 
Finally, this past Thursday, 50 business and government leaders from the Chamber’s Highlands Economic Partnership (Jackson, Overton, Putnam and White County) met for a day-long planning meeting at the Retreat At Center Hill Lake (formerly Lakeside Resort).  Our goal was to begin to develop a long-range plan that will ensure the quality, growth and development of the Highlands/Upper Cumberland Region.  Exciting ideas were generated, more study will be needed, and the target date for completion is later this year!
Out of space again!  Great problem to have!