Monday, December 28, 2009

Entrpreneur Classes to be Offered at CSCC-Lewisburg Campus. To learn more, come to CSCC-Lewisburg on January 19 at 6 p.m.
Updated Marshall County Happenings*4Lvg

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

TVA Working with Local Industries to Keep Jobs Here

Maintaining employment is not only important to local industries and local government, it is equally important to the Tennessee Valley Authority who recently unveiled a reward program to qualifying industries in several targeted sectors for keeping jobs right where they are now.
Within its seven-state region, TVA launched a $40 million campaign in October to encourage existing businesses to make investments and maintain production in the area. The TVA Valley Investment Initiative offers cash incentives for plant investments, even when they only maintain, rather than expand, overall employment. And in Lewisburg, that means there are 12 local industries who may qualify to save 4-12 percent on their utility bill thanks to their commitment to maintain or expand employment in their current facilities over the next five years.
To qualify for the program, industries must be existing TVA customers, use a minimum of 250kW peak monthly demand, have a minimum of 25 full-time employees, have no plans to reduce employment by 50 percent over the next five years and be financially sound. Some of the local industries who qualify for the VII include Smurfit Stone, Southern Carton, Cosmolab, Trison Coatings, Teledyne, Moon Products, Nichirin, ICP and Lewisburg Printing Company.
Deborah Cameron, TVA Economic Development Project Manager for the Middle Tennessee Region, came to Lewisburg on Tuesday to speak with some of those qualifying industries about the Valley Investment Initiative and how the program can benefit them.
“We are seeing a great deal of interest in the program,” Cameron said. “It is a very unique program you won’t see from other power utilities across the country.”
Cameron explained how TVA began discussing ways to assist economic development in their region with the current economic downturn approaching. Cameron said TVA realized most of the industries in areas such as Lewisburg were branch plants that faced possible consolidation and movement out of the region. So, TVA developed the TVA Valley Investment Initiative as a reward program for industries in the region who commit to keeping their doors open and their workers working. The program is also an argument against those parent companies that are looking to close and consolidate local industries and move them out of the TVA region.
“If they (local industries) need evidence on the program and the cost savings it will mean for their facility to show to their parent company, we can do that for them,” Cameron said. “It is my job to be their advocate.”
Industries that qualify and want to participate in the program in order to receive their power bill credits from TVA must fill out an application, undergo an evaluation by TVA and then see their savings on their monthly utility bills based on capital investment, jobs created or retained, wages paid, energy efficiency and load factor. The savings can be substantial averaging between 4 and 12 percent.
Local power distributors such as Lewisburg Electric System appreciate the program as well. LES President Richard Turner attended the Tuesday meeting to hear more from TVA about the program.
“TVA has tried to assist industries through rates and I think they have realized this is a better way,” Turner said. “I think it’s a good program and I am proud it’s out.”
The meeting Tuesday morning at Lewisburg City Hall was arranged by Lewisburg ECD Director Terry Wallace and ECD Specialist Lisa Jackson so that qualifying industries in Lewisburg could get a better understanding of the program and how to apply.
“We a very happy to see that TVA is developing ways to assist our local industries during this turbulent economic period,” Wallace said. “We need to utilize everything we can here in Marshall County to try and stabilize and eventually turn around our unemployment figures.”
Job creation remains a focal point for the Lewisburg ECD office; but across the country as well as here in Tennessee, more focus is being placed on job retention. The TVA Valley Investment Initiative is only one program to help local industries keep their workers working in Tennessee and Marshall County.

TVA Talks with Local Retailers about Improving Business

Using data, statistics and estimations, around 25 local business and community leaders came to the Lewisburg Recreation Center Tuesday night to discuss ways existing retailers can improve their customer base and increase their sales.
Chuck Marquis, Project Manager for Business Resources for the Tennessee Valley Authority, presented the data along with techniques for retailers looking to improve their bottom lines. Economic Development is part of what TVA does for its seven-state region and Marquis put together a program taken from other marketing gurus, such as Jon Schallert, and data collected by Claritas, a nationally recognized source of accurate, up-to-date demographic data and target marketing research information about the population, consumer behavior, consumer spending, market segments, households and businesses within any specific geographic target market area in the United States.
Marquis put together data from Claritas about Lewisburg using a drive-time of 16 miles that created a trade area for local retailers to examine and discuss. The trade area demonstrated the types of consumers that live within the region, their spending habits and their lifestyles. The information also showed the areas in which leakage, or money being spent on goods and services outside Marshall County, is occurring, as well as areas of surplus, or money being spent inside Marshall County from people who live outside the county.
For many people, pouring over data can be overwhelming and a perceived waste of time and energy. Marquis explained how such data can be important for not only those looking to start a business, but also for those already in business. By understanding the customers in a trade area, businesses can better develop strategies to market to those customers, from better marketing techniques to making changes in a stores appearance or items offered.
Looking at the data on Lewisburg’s trade area, a 16-mile radius around the intersection of Nashville Highway and Ellington Parkway, there is an estimated $169 million in potential retail sales not being realized. According to the Claritas data, there was an estimated $351 million in retail sales in the area in 2009 but there was a retail demand of $520 million. That means there is a great deal of money being spent by local residents shopping outside the county on items and services that are offered locally.
The top merchandise items in which retail leakage is occurring in Marshall County are cars, trucks and power transmissions, meals and snacks, groceries and other food, drugs, health and beauty aids, women’s juniors and misses’ wear, men’s wear and computer hardware/software supplies. Most if not all of the items in which leakage is occurring are offered by Lewisburg retailers and the items that are not offered create what is called a “retail gap.” Filling a retail gap means recruiting or encouraging businesses that offer goods or services not currently found in Lewisburg stores; but for those local businesses in which those goods and services are already offered, having leakage means figuring out why people are not buying locally and how to get them to start.
One area in which there is a surplus in Lewisburg is lawn/garden/farm equipment and supply. There is around $28 million in retail sales coming into Marshall County from outside the county and this in an area where Lewisburg may have found a niche on which to build more retail sales. By indentifying those out-of-county customers of lawn, garden and farm equipment supplies, a campaign to encourage them to shop for other items can be created. This idea is only one that came from the presentation Tuesday night.
The other idea came from a discussion on marketing and it is a buzzword called - networking. The internet and email marketing has proven an inexpensive and affective means of modern marketing. There are websites that offer free services to help market small businesses to a wider audience and sending out emails to consumers directly has also proven to be beneficial for many small businesses. The problem for most small business owners is time and a lack of knowledge on how to get it started. Marquis provided those local retailers at the meeting Tuesday night a few ideas on how to get such marketing campaigns up and running along with websites that can assist those less tech-savvy small business owners. By using the internet as a marketing tool, local small business owners can not only attract new customers, but they can also stay connected with existing customers, as well as other local businesses in the area. Trading ideas and information and collaborating on marketing can become a very valuable tool for small businesses looking to expand their customer base and annual sales.
If you would like to a copy of the presentation by Marquis, contact Greg Lowe at (931) 359-1544 and provide an email address. A copy of the power point presentation with data on the trade area in Lewisburg can be emailed to you.