Friday, April 06, 2012Author: Jeremy Styron
(Last modified: 2012-04-06 09:01:45)
Local government officials threw their unanimous support this week behind an effort to keep Yale Locks & Hardware operating in Lenoir City.
Loudon County Commission and Lenoir City Council voted Monday to provide Yale Locks with a 10-year, 100 percent tax break, amounting to incentives of about $1,028,000, to remain in the county.
"As most of you know, Yale has been around for a very long time," Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens told commissioners Monday night. "They have raised a lot of families up there, and we'd certainly like to encourage them to stay in Loudon County. It's not just about Lenoir City; it's about Loudon County, and it's about the 234 citizens that work up there as well."
Pat Phillips, president of the Loudon County Economic Development Agency, said that given an average income of about $40,000 per year at Yale for more than 230 employees, the impact would mean more than $4 million in lost local wages. He said 61 percent of Yale's employees live in Loudon.
"I just hope we can pass this tonight to show our support for these families and the individuals and do our best to hopefully keep this company in our county," Commissioner Steve Harrelson said.
Other commissioners agreed that if the company left it would have a significant impact on the county.
"I think anybody that has ever been involved in sales or anything like that knows that it's much cheaper to keep a customer or a company than to try to get a new one in," Commissioner Bob Franke said. "So I think even if with our best efforts if we're not able to keep them, I think it's well worth the effort at least to try even though it's probably going to be a corporate decision that not many people have control over, at least at this level, but I'd sure like to give it a try."
Commissioners then voted 9-0 to approve the Yale tax incentive, with Commissioner Sharon Yarbrough absent.
"A unanimous vote like this sends a great message not only to the company, but to the community and the employees," Phillips said.
Yale's parent company, Assa Abloy, announced plans Friday to consolidate its Lenoir City Yale operation into an existing, larger Assa Abloy facility in Berlin, Conn., and shut down the local plant.
Yale Locks general manager Dick Krajewski said operation transfers would start no sooner than in 60 days. Layoffs would come in increments over the next 12-14 months to keep production flowing smoothly.
Phillips told city council Monday morning that he hopes the incentive will change corporate minds and be the "possible solution" to keeping a staple in the local economy for nearly 60 years.
"I think everybody understands this is going to be an uphill struggle since the decision has already been made out publicly," Phillips said. "Hopefully, we can get their interest and reverse the decision that has been made."
Aikens told council that Yale management would relay the city and county's message to the corporate office.
"I'm optimistic that it will work, but I can't tell you at this point in time if it will or not," Aikens said.
In other business, the commissioners:
● Approved appointments to the surplus property committee, library board and the solid waste commission.
● Adopted an interlocal agreement with Lenoir City in which the county and city would split local costs associated with the construction and repairs to the Simpson Road bridge. The total costs of the project is $202,871, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation will foot the bill for $162,297. The city and county will each contribute $20,287.
The project includes the removal of the old structure, construction of a concrete slab bridge, erosion and traffic control. The bridge is expected to be completed by Nov. 1.
● Approved new Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System employee contribution rates. The rate for general employees will increase from 9.52 to 9.72 percent, while the rate for public safety officers will go from 13.02 to 13.22.
● Approved an increase to the highway department fund of about $80,000 for disaster relief stemming from April 2011 flooding.
● Heard from representatives of the Amberly Meadows Home Owners Association. HOA treasurer Otis Peterson told commissioners that the developer of the subdivision went bankrupt and some streets had fallen into disrepair. The subdivision includes seven houses and 28 lots.
News-Herald Staff Writer Stephanie Myers contributed to this report.
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