In his first official meeting Wednesday as executive director of the Clarksville-Montgomery County Industrial Development Board, newly-hired Frank Tate was soaking in the reality of everything from major, nine-digit corporate investments under construction, to tax increment financing plans for small, private downtown redevelopment ventures.
And in between all of this, there are growing questions about future components of the Corporate Business Park, including whether more retail restaurant chains like Burger King should be introduced within the industrial park property under the pressures of growth off Interstate 24 and Rossview Road.
Tate, replacing longtime veteran IDB Executive Director Mike Evans in the role, said the challenges are there, and he feels excited, and equal to the task.
"The intent is to keep moving the community forward at the same speed we're going now," Tate told The Leaf-Chronicle after the early-morning meeting.
What Tate inherits
As he assumes the role, LG Electronics is building its $250 million washing machine plant with expectations of launching production in October.
The new $600 million Google data center is also under construction now, and there is headway being made toward launching construction of the $75 million Atlas BX automotive battery plant.
In the meantime, the IDB is grappling with whether it should essentially be in the real estate business. Principally, the current question is, should the IDB sell off more lots at the industrial park entrance near Exit 8, as it did with the small Burger King parcel, and try to shoulder dealing with providing accompanying road access for retail activity.
The Wednesday meeting revealed that another fast food chain is now interested in locating a store in that area, but the IDB now says, not so fast. It needs time to step back and study it all.
And, looking downtown, a fourth TIF request now lies before the IDB, for property just outside of the current TIF boundaries around Seventh and Main streets. It's a request for financing assistance for another apartment complex to promote downtown residential growth, but by being outside of the TIF boundary, that poses legal questions that Tate and the IDB must first tackle.
"There is a lot to talk about, for sure," Tate said. "LG is preparing to open in October, and then one of the questions for us is going to be, where do we go after LG.
"We're continuing to gain interest from a lot of sizeable projects. Industrial prospect activity continues to be brisk for this community," he said. One of the undisclosed prospects that recently scouted out Montgomery County was said Wednesday to be a potential $1 billion venture. There are no additional details for now.
"At the same time," Tate said, "the Google project is still moving forward."
Meanwhile, one of the region's concrete businesses, Nashville Ready Mix, is eyeing property in the industrial park for a future business location. Evans — still heavily engaged in IDB work through the transition period, on Wednesday advised that local company that there are issues with a TVA power line easement at the site, and the industrial park's own restrictive covenants, that first need to be ironed out.
Tate told The Leaf-Chronicle Wednesday that, executives for Atlas BX are planning a groundbreaking ceremony in September for that $75 million plant that's bringing another 200 jobs to town.
Next week, initial survey work is expected to begin on the 40-acre, pad-ready Atlas BX site.
As all of this activity unfolds, Tate said he will be working with the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce and other entities on local workforce development, with a goal of ensuring that companies that want to locate here have an adequate pool of skilled, trained workers.
Tate, 35, is originally from Owensboro, Ky., and comes to Clarksville effective this week from a similar professional role he held in McKenzie, Tenn.
While in the west Tennessee town, Tate was credited with playing a key role in job creation and economic development. His efforts were also focused on aiding existing industries, recruitment of new industries, incentives negotiations, and oversight of that community's industrial development organization.
Before moving into west Tennessee, Tate worked at the state level in Kentucky as a regional director focusing on workforce and economic development in western Kentucky. He is also a prior member of the armed forces, having served in the U.S. Navy. Tate holds a bachelor of arts degree from Kaplan University, which he earned while in the Navy.
Tate said he realizes that Clarksville-Montgomery County has "an impressive story to tell, and resources that are like none other I have seen in other communities.
"Ultimately, I will work to develop and sustain opportunities for recruitment and be a partner in the next wave of strategic workforce and economic development," he said.
Tate now becomes the new leader of the IDB and is responsible for facilitating, promoting and ensuring successful economic recruitment in Clarksville-Montgomery County.
He will also work to secure additional industrial property for recruitment of new industries and office projects.
The executive director of the IDB is additionally tasked with working closely with the executive director of the local Economic Development Council and Aspire Clarksville Foundation. The IDB receives most of its non-operational funding through investments in the Aspire Foundation.
The position that Tate has landed had been advertised on national-level career and professional organization sites, with the intent of drawing a pool of highly-qualified and competitive applicants from all over the country.
The mission of the selection committee, the EDC said this week, was to recruit the best candidate and fill the position quickly and proficiently, so that the work of the IDB could continue uninterrupted. The selection committee was comprised of IDB members Carl Wilson, Jeff Turner, Suzanne Langford, James Corlew, Jr. and Khandra Smalley. Also at the table throughout the selection process were Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett and Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan.
Tate and his wife, Holly, have a son and two daughters. The family is in the process of moving from McKenzie to Clarksville.