Wilson County is the Place to Be
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Adkins
Southern hospitality usually is perceived as being directed toward other people. But Kenny Martin, the economic development director for the city of Mt. Juliet, says he wants that same hospitality to also extend toward businesses that locate in Wilson County.
Having that type of attitude means companies aren’t simply recruited to come to Wilson County and then left to fend for themselves. They are treated just like any other neighbor, with friendliness and genuine concern for their well-being.
“Once we get your business here, we don’t forget about you,” Martin says. “We’ll visit with you and do everything in our power to make sure you’re successful. Because if you’re successful, that sends a positive message to other businesses thinking about moving to the community."
“It’s the attitude of going above and beyond what we have to do. If your business needs something, you can pick up the phone and talk to the mayor or the city manager or the chamber director. You’re going to hear from somebody, and we’re going to do everything we can to get it right.”
Tennessee’s Most Business-Friendly City
That approach is one of the reasons Mt. Juliet was named Tennessee’s Most Business-Friendly City in 2010 by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR). Cities were ranked in the categories of economic vitality, business tax burden and community allure.
The economic vitality of the county comes partly from its steady population growth in recent years. The city nearly doubled in population from 2000 to 2010 (to approximately 24,000), while Wilson County’s population increased 28.4 percent (to approximately 114,000). During that 10-year span, Wilson County was Tennessee’s fastest-growing county and 29th fastest-growing in the United States.
The TCPR also praised Mt. Juliet for its low business tax rate and lack of a local property tax. TCPR President Justin Owen says, “Mt. Juliet has shown an unmatched commitment to creating an economic climate that is both welcoming to new business and nourishing to existing enterprise. The city’s inviting tax and regulatory policy has paid off.”
Jupiter Band Instruments
A prime example of the area’s appeal to companies was the decision in 2010 by KHS America/Jupiter Band Instruments to move its headquarters to Mt. Juliet from Austin, Texas. The company relocated to a 100,000-square-foot building, brought along 22 workers from Austin and added another 30 employees.
“From the very beginning, right from day one, every effort was made to make those of us who are new to the community feel at home,” KHS President Tabor Stamper says. “The economic development organizations and chambers of commerce all went beyond our wildest dreams to make this move as easy as possible. We cannot be more grateful for that.”
It is, Martin says, simply the way Mt. Juliet and Wilson County do business when it comes to dealing with businesses.
“We don’t take it lightly when people pick our community to bring in their business,” Martin says. “We want to make sure they realize that Mt. Juliet and Wilson County are Southern hospitality at its finest.”