The city of Morristown has been recognized for its place in the manufacturing world.
According to SmartAsset, a personal finance technology company headquartered in New York, Morristown is the sixth-best place to work in manufacturing in the nation, following Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana, Greenville, North Carolina, Elizabethtown/Fort Knox, Kentucky, Spartanburg, South Carolina and Jonesboro, Arkansas.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Keith Andrews, 2019 chairman of the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce. “We who live and work here know how successful our city is, but not everyone knows what we make and do on a daily basis.”
Rounding out the top 10 are Greenville/Anderson/Mauldin, South Carolina, Athens/Clarke County, Georgia, Rockford, Illinois and Lima, Ohio.
“We think Morristown is at the center in industrial growth,” Morristown Mayor Gary Chesney said. “We’re not surprised Morristown is ahead of others.”
“Wherever we’re ranked, it’s great to be considered and recognized with what we do well,” said Bill Brittain, Hamblen County mayor. “(Being honored) shows how the people of this area have been working hard.”
From 2014 to 2017, the number of manufacturing jobs in Morristown increased by 12.7%, the 56th-highest rate for this metric across all 376 metro areas in the study, according to SmartAsset. That growth contributes to the fact Morristown has the second-largest percentage of its workforce employed by the manufacturing industry of any area in our top 10, following only behind the No. 1 metro area, Elkhart-Goshen. In 2017, more than 12,000 residents in the Morristown metro area worked in manufacturing, equaling almost a third of its total workforce.
“It recognizes a couple of things. The jobs we’re attracting – and what they’re offering – are higher-paying jobs,” Brittain said. “That is one of our objectives in our workforce revitalization plans.”
“It’s the result of Morristown leaders working toward industrial growth,” Chesney said. “We have three industrial parks along with trains and a regional airport.”
The manufacturing industry accounts for 8% of the U.S. workforce, which translates to roughly 12.8 million employees nationwide. Some parts of the country offer better places for manufacturing workers to live and work, providing a robust workforce, strong employment and income growth and affordable housing.
“There is a very positive outlook for Morristown. Anytime you have a good workforce, there is an increase in aesthetic things like eateries, shopping centers, etc.,” Chesney said. “Seventy-one percent of property taxes come from the businesses instead of individuals.
“This keeps property taxes among individuals low. We’ve gotten positive feedback from the people (of Morristown), and we try to do better always.”
Andrews said he believes the high ranking comes from the cooperation among industry, city and county governments and the educational community in the Lakeway Area, as well as the passage of the Labor Education Alignment Program, which created a statewide, comprehensive structure enabling students in Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology and community colleges to participate in technical training developed with input from area employers.
“One of the things that is most important is the collaboration of city and county governments and our school systems,” said Andrews, who is also vice president of product development at Tuff Torq in Morristown. “I spoke to high school kids a few years ago about jobs in manufacturing.
“(TCAT-Morristown) has always been great at developing a good and ready workforce. It’s hard to fill these kinds of positions if you don’t have the workforce.”
Andrews also said it is the relationship between TCAT-Morristown, Walters State Community College and Hamblen County Schools that has helped create the workforce leading to the city’s high ranking.
“We have two high school students who go to class full-time, and work part-time at Tuff Torq,” he said.
Brittain said it would be impossible to draw quality and stable companies to Morristown without a well-trained workforce. It is the combination of education and the attraction of high-paying jobs that prevent layoffs and high turnover rates.
“The jobs being created are technically-sophisticated, therefore, they’re more higher-paying,” he said. “There’s been a lot of effort and energy spent over the last decade teaching kids at TCAT and Walters State.
“What we want to do is make sure the companies we recruit get the workers they need. As long as we stick to our plan, we’ll succeed.”
The full report of Morristown’s ranking can be found at https://smartasset.com/mortgage/best-places-to-work-in-manufacturing-2019.