Maury County commissioners on Monday night voted to request membership in the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the regional body that seeks to guide the region's infrastructural development. (The county and the city of Columbia are currently part of another planning body that reaches west to Perry and Wayne counties.) MPO chief Michael Skipper said his body will be able to support future funding requests.
“There is a concern among some that in an RPO you may be a big fish in a little pond and by leaving and joining the MPO you will become a little fish in a big pond,” Skipper said. “The reality is the MPO as a unit is better positioned to interface with decision-makers about transportation investments because of the resources that are part of our staffing.”
A Haslam administration deal to lure Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. to invest some $800 million in a manufacturing facility and create some 1,800 jobs in the Clarksville area comes with a $72 million incentive package, according to state officials.
State funds will come in the form of reimbursable grants for job training, site prep and some funding for a cultural center to help ease the transition for Korean nationals locating to the state, said ECD spokesman Clint Brewer. The deal also includes a clawback provision, he said.
The announcement comes less than a year after another large ECD development promising hundreds of jobs to the area fell through. In 2009, Hemlock Semiconductor agreed to build a $1.2 billion facility in the area, but earlier this year let go of some 300 employees and has yet to open the plant. The Hemlock deal came before the state began using clawback provisions to ensure that tax dollars spent to lure businesses here are refunded if the company fails to produce jobs.
Gov. Bill Haslam and ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty will this morning travel to Clarksville and join forces with that city's mayor, Kim McMillan, and Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers to announce a "significant" jobs event that is likely to be a massive Hankook Tire manufacturing plant. The South Korean company last week said it was in last-minute talks with state officials for an area factory that is expected to have the capacity to crank out 10 million tires per year. The complex could employ up to 1,000 people.
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