The plans by Lee Co. executives to move their headquarters from Cool Springs to Boyle's Berry Farms development a few miles farther south got a boost Tuesday night, when Franklin officials approved a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan for the company. The mechanical contractor plans to relocate to Berry Farms in 2017 and will add almost 70 jobs, growing its total HQ payroll past 500. Williamson County officials also have approved a tax incentive package.
Scott Witherow of Olive and Sinclair Chocolate is expanding his retail business with a high-profile storefront in his hometown. Witherow and his team have started work on the renovation of the old Williamson County Rescue Squad building at Franklin's Five Points. They expect to open their doors there in a month or so.
In addition to its new storefront, the chocolate company will add new products to its line that are exclusive to his Williamson County location. Witherow revealed only one of his new products called the Seersucker, but said the rest will have to be a surprise.
Lee Co., one of the largest private companies headquartered in Williamson County, plans to build a 100,000-square-foot home office in the Berry Farms development, where it has bought about seven acres. Getahn Ward at The Tennessean has the details on the planned move, which is similar to one in the works for Dave Ramsey's financial planning enterprise.
Perko said Lee Co. chose Berry Farms to reasons similar to its choice of Cool Springs years ago for its current headquarters.
“It’s in the path of progress,” he said about Berry Farms where Lee Co.’s planned building will be among the first office space. “We feel like we’re getting ahead by being in the new development.”
Franklin city officials and Williamson County leaders have approved millions of dollars of tax abatements and other incentives to facilitate the headquarters relocation of the holding company for Dave Ramsey's financial planning tools and services. Lampo Group/Ramsey Solutions plans to build a new home office to replace its base in Cool Springs. Nothing definitive about the new HQ's location has been announced, but public officials have said Ramsey has picked a section of Boyle Investments' large Berry Farms project at the Goose Creek exit off Intestate 65 for the $98 million project. (The area encompasses the blue section in the bottom right of the image below.)
Emily West at Franklin Homepage has a rundown of the incentives — which include more than $3.7 million from the county — as well as Lampo's ambitious hiring plans, which stretch well into next decade.
Arizona-based Sprouts Fresh Market will early next year open a store in the Maples Shopping Center on Highway 96/Murfreesboro Road in Franklin. The lease for space formerly occupied by Stein Mart fills one of the last Maples gaps for owner Brookside Properties, which bought the center in the middle of last year and has since been investing heavily in renovations. Sprouts, which was founded in 2002, runs more than 200 stores in 13 states. Its Franklin outpost will employ about 100 people.
The recently hired Dr. David Rosen is now into his first academic year as president of O’More College of Design.
Post Managing Editor William Williams chatted with Rosen regarding his efforts and goals related to the Franklin-based college.
You are still relatively new to the job. After about three months and with the fall semester having recently started, what are your impressions overall about the role?
I am new, but I understood the job before I took it. In fact, I consider this job my dream job. My interest in this position stemmed from having a clear understanding of what a conservatory school of design in a region with an exploding creative economy could accomplish. Keep in mind that Nashville has the fourth largest fashion industry in the country, and O’More has the top fashion design and fashion marketing programs in the state. These programs are both nationally ranked. Nashville has one of the fastest growing built environments in the country.
In addition, O’More boasts one of the top interiors programs in the nation. This figure is measured by the number of national competition winners among its students. Our graduation rate last year was 81 percent, making it the highest among all art and design schools with the exception of Rhode Island School of Design. Of our graduates 94 percent find jobs in their fields within six months of graduation.
When I began the job, I already had pretty strong impressions and I can’t imagine that changing. We have dynamic programs, dedicated faculty, eager students, and we are aligned with the economic growth of the area and are playing a key role in helping to stimulate that growth.
My one surprise, I suppose, has to be how special the bond between students, staff and faculty is. The support they provide one another is the main ingredient for success at O’More.
O’More’s fall enrollment is 179. Do you have a goal for next fall and, if so, what might be your strategy regarding achieving it?
We have always been small, and that has been purposeful. We are a best-kept secret, and we actually like that. If you ever come on campus, you will feel that being here is like being in a private garden. The smaller environment gives us character, but we have decided to share the secret a bit more widespread, and we are already seeing the results. For instance, the number of inquiries this year is already three times greater than the number of inquiries we had for the entirety of last year. I don’t know where the final enrollment next year will be, but we are sharing the secret selectively and students seem very interested.
What is the main challenge you currently face?
Our main challenge is moving fast enough to take advantage of all the enormous opportunities that we have.
I’ve long wondered this. O’More sits on what is, potentially, some extremely valuable property on the fringe of downtown Franklin. Could you one day sell a portion or even the entirety? Of if not, how often does the college get offers to sell?
Our Franklin location is our secret sauce and we will never sell this campus. It would be like selling your grandmother. It might be lucrative, but it would probably disrupt your family. If you have ever been to the campus, you understand the character it holds.
O’More has traditionally had a male to female student ratio of about one to nine. Is there a move to alter that ratio so as to increase enrollment?
The ratio of males to females in higher education is resolutely in the favor of females and growing steadily. The areas we teach in are traditionally female. In fact, O’More College was founded by a woman. We celebrate diversity at O’More. We have students from all walks of life, backgrounds and heritage. We are focused on providing an opportunity for all students to find their place and foster their growth within the design world. We are proud of our predominantly female student base, but will continue to welcome all creative minds to study at O’More.
In March, O’More moved its school of interior design from The Factory at Franklin to the main campus. How has that gone?
I don’t know what the program was like before I started with O’More, but it seems to be thriving now. I will say, however, that The Factory offered us a more familiar type of studio space. We are planning on strategizing to recreate that ambiance on campus.
You most recently worked at Kendall College of Art & Design, a conservatory school located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I understand you are forging some relationships with O'More along those lines. How has that progressed?
At KCAD, we specialized in design thinking. Among other programs, I started a master’s of architecture program and improved the existing fashion program. Those are more in line with my plans for O’More.
On a related note, what is O'More's symbiotic relationship, if any, with Watkins College of Art, Design and Film?
As far as I know, we don’t have a relationship with Watkins. We do not offer film or fine arts, which I believe are at the core of their curriculum. We each have our own niche. I am sure there is symbiosis possible, but it is yet to be discovered. Nashville provides the perfect landscape for all the programs in creative areas to usefully collaborate. Right now my interest is in collaborating with Belmont’s entrepreneurship program. Maybe Watkins in time.
Sweet news from Matt Rogers at Eater Nashville: Locally owned startup bakery Five Daughters is adding a retail presence not just at its production center in The Factory at Franklin but also in 12South space that had housed the Corrieri's cheese shop. Look for openings later this fall.
Meek says that right now about 80 percent of their current demand is for doughnuts, including '100 Layer,' stuffed and 'paleo crushers.' But they also offer options such as kouign amaan (a crispy, caramelized croissant), cupcakes, custom cakes, biscuits, cinammon rolls and more, utilizing primarily local and organic ingredients.
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