Chamber hosts Industrial Appreciation Breakfast

Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce President Marshall Ramsey speaks at the Industrial Appreciation Breakfast Wednesday morning. For more pictures from the breakfast, see Sunday’s edition of the Citizen Tribune. For video coverage, go online at www.citizentribune.com.

Leaders of business and industry descended upon First Presbyterian Church for the Industrial Appreciation Breakfast on Wednesday.

The event was a celebration of the Lakeway Area’s industrial community – and how those businesses have impacted the area at large. Several area businesses, including IATRIC Manufacturing Solutions, Kawasaki Tennessee, Arconic, JTEKT, Tuff Torq Corporation, HC*EXCELL, Citizens National Bank, Morristown Utility Systems, Express Employment Professionals, Colortech, Iconex and Strate Insurance Group, were honored with plaques and trophies for their service to the area.

“The quality of life, the schools and the roads have gotten better, and our industrial base had a lot to do with that,” said Keith Andrews, chairman of the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce. “Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”

“Thank you for what you do for your employees. Thank you for what you’re doing to make Morristown-Hamblen a good place to raise a family,” Hamblen County Mayor Bill Britton said.

R. Jack Fishman, chair of the Morristown Industrial Board, touted the investment of the industries into the county as a boon to its economic development. According to Fishman, over $125 million has been invested in Hamblen County, creating 400 new jobs in the process.

“It takes a community, and it takes all of you (the industries of the county) to make a better quality of life for everyone here,” he said.

Morristown Mayor Gary Chesney said the economic benefits of new businesses coming to the area – and the ones that have already planted roots – have created new opportunities for the healthcare and restaurant businesses, and new schools being built or expanded. However, he also said those on the ground working in this plants should never be forgotten.

“The wheel is turned by the people who are employees of these businesses,” he said. “They are the backbone of our community.”

Chamber of Commerce President Marshall Ramsey said despite businesses leaving the area over the years, the growth of the area can never be ignored nor trivialized.

“We all know companies come and go. It’s a testament to the companies and our local business leaders,” he said.

With the influx of plants coming to the area, workforce development has become a major issue. Because of specialized educational programs at Walters State Community College, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology as well as a recently-founded welding program at Jefferson County High, business leaders see a positive future for the Lakeway Area.

“Part of what we do is grooming our leaders. Our workforce is made up of your future employees, your congressmen and your future bosses,” Ramsey said.

Even though officials are proud of the growth of the area, more work and less complacency dominate their thoughts.

“When I go out of town, people always ask me what do we do (to bring new industry to Hamblen County),” Britton said. “We’ve become the envy of East Tennessee, especially when it comes to industry.”

“We are either progressive or regressive,” Andrews said. “Our goal is to recruit as many new businesses as possible.”

Major sponsors of the Industrial Appreciation Breakfast include Burke Alley Construction, Cherokee Millwright, HealthStar Physicians, Lakeway Auto Sales, SunTrust Bank and Wimberly, Lawson, Wright, Daves and Jones.

Corporate Sponsors of the event include Andrew Johnson Bank, Citizen Tribune, TVA, MBI Companies Incorporated, Resource MFG, Atmos Energy and English Mountain Construction.