By Marian Galbraith, staff writer
In addition to increased interest in Coffee County’s industrial parks by prospective manufacturers, the Industrial Board’s 2012 annual report shows continued signs of economic recovery in the area for the second year in a row.
Specifically, the report illustrates a second consecutive year of increased manufacturing employment throughout the Coffee County area, outpacing the nation as a whole both years and signaling a clear reversal of 10 years of decline from 2001 through 2010.
“These are the first increases since the year 2000,” the report reads.
In 2011, Coffee County’s manufacturing employment is reported to have increased by over four percent, while the nation as a whole increased by one percent and the state decreased by the same amount.
Then in 2012, the county increased another 3.2 percent, while the U.S. as a whole increased by only 0.4 percent and the state saw a jump of five percent.
“Previously the county had experienced a negative trend…(of) approximately –2 percent per year from 2000 through 2008.”
This eight-year decline was attributed primarily to the nationwide loss of manufacturing jobs to foreign countries, such as Mexico and Southeast Asia, which has been permanent, according to chairman Bill Comer.
Then came the global recession beginning in late 2008, which caused the county to lose an additional 4.2 percent in manufacturing employment in 2009, mostly in the automotive industry.
Ironically, it is now the same sector that is largely responsible for the local recovery, according to Comer and executive director, Ted Hackney.
“Back in 2009, that’s when they were bailing out GM and the big banks,” Comer said, “so everyone was just sitting on their money.
“People couldn’t get financing, they were losing jobs, and nobody was buying cars, but now that’s changing for the better.
“The GM plant in Spring Hill had closed down, but now it’s re-opening, then Volkswagen came in to Chattanooga in just the last couple of years, while Nissan in Decherd has been expanding recently as well.” …
Read the complete story in this week’s (Feb. 27) print edition of the Manchester Times. Click here to subscribe to the print and/or online edition of the paper.