Wow, what a year! The Clarksville-Montgomery County EDC has seen big changes since July 2018. Our organization saw the hiring of a CEO as well as a few other leadership changes as the long-time Executive Director of the Industrial Development Board, Mike Evans, retired and Frank Tate stepped in. Some people took on new positions within the walls of the EDC and even with a year of transition, we have seen record-breaking numbers in our community. Much of that is directly related to the hard work of the employees who have dedicated themselves to the mission of the Chamber of Commerce, Industrial Development Board and Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Numbers don’t lie and those that know me well know I love them, so I’d like to throw some pretty impressive ones out there. Let’s start with the big one - payroll dollars. In Montgomery County, the 2018 annual payroll totaled $2.103 billion, up from $1.97 billion in the previous year. With Hankook and LG Electronics at full production and Google ramping up operations, I am confident when the 2019 payroll numbers are public, we can expect to see an even higher number. The addition of these industrial jobs and the indirect jobs they create contribute to the healthy economy in Clarksville-Montgomery County.
Payroll numbers are great but our local sales tax collections are incredible. Our local sales tax has consistently increased and is proof people are spending those payroll dollars locally. Sales tax collections January 2019 through May 2019 were $33,179,096, up 11.6% over the same period in 2018. Our local occupancy tax collections January 2019 through May 2019 was $1,387,450, up 72.6% over the same period last year. Although approximately 60% of the increase can be attributed to the occupancy tax rate increasing from 5% to 8% in the fall of 2018, it still reflects amazing growth year over year.
The EDC’s partner agencies work tirelessly to increase statistics such as these every year – but behind those numbers are people who come to work each day ready to make a difference in this community.
The team at the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) has been crucial in the increase of hotel-motel tax. Since July 2018, the CVB has marketed this community in such a strategic way that there were over 600 news stories globally highlighting our amazing community. The CVB team is diligent in the recruitment of events and in the past 12 months they hosted 19 sporting events with an attendance of over 56,000. Those 56,000-plus people created a direct economic impact of $25.4 million to this community. That’s $25.4 million visitor dollars, which as many of you know are one of the best kinds! People visit, spend money and go home, with the goal that they go back and share what an awesome experience they had in Clarksville-Montgomery County.
As much as we love to take care of our visitors, our residents come first. I mentioned earlier the growth in payroll. That advancement is in part due to the hard work of the Industrial Development Board. In the past year alone, the IDB has received 46 requests for proposals and 23 on-site visits. Many communities would be over the moon with 10 RFI’s and 2 site visits in a year. Our existing industry is the backbone of our industrial payroll revenue and in the past year, two of our local industries have made the decision to expand - Trane and Florim. The IDB also worked closely with two housing developments creating more affordable options for our residents. These expansions and announcements equaled $88 million in capital investment. The IDB and Chamber have also partnered to launch a talent acquisition marketing campaign that will ensure our local employers have a deep talent pool to choose from when they have opportunities arise.
Every great community knows that jobs are extremely important, but we must have an impactful and positive quality of life. Through the Chamber’s targeted retail recruitment, we have added nation-wide names like Marshalls, At Home, Carters and American Signature Furniture. We are also seeing several current restaurants expand their footprint into other areas of the County as well as welcomed locally grown establishments like Nicoletta’s At The Club, Strawberry Alley Ale Works, Yada Yada Yada Deli, Hot Pita, Roux and many others.
This year, I’ve also had the opportunity to be at the table on discussions for the new Multi-Purpose Event Center, Conference Center out by the interstate, City-owned Exit 8 Sports Complex and the creation of a class-a office park. We’ve also kicked off the Aspire VI: Connect campaign and our local business leadership is once again showing up and paving the way for our community’s success.
To say that our city-county Economic Development team has accomplished a lot in the last 12 months is an understatement. Our community is truly blessed to have a team of people who are dedicated and passionate about creating a better Clarksville-Montgomery County and I work with them every day. We are headed into our next fiscal year starting on July 1 with a whole new set of goals ahead of us. I truly believe when I send out the update next year, we will have added a minimum of 5,000 new residents, hundreds of new jobs and a great selection of new dining and retail.
Most of us in this community understand that growth is going to happen, and it is more than likely going to continue at a fast pace – we are a desirable community to live and work in. Here at the EDC we are tasked to be a leader in our community’s smart growth. We will continually work to strategically direct that growth with the input of our local citizens, leaders, developers, nonprofits, and historic preservationists. Through our core goals of supporting the redevelopment of underutilized sites, enhancing economic competitiveness, providing more reliable transportation options, and developing a robust and affordable quality of life we will help shape the future of Clarksville-Montgomery County for generations to come.