Spotlight On: Wil Evans, President, Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance

Spotlight On: Wil Evans, President, Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance

2022-07-14T05:47:14-04:00June 4th, 2021|Economy, Nashville, Spotlight On|

Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas

Wil-Evans 2 min read June 2021 —The Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance is committed to fostering workforce development as well as economic growth in Maury County. In an interview with Invest:, Wil Evans, president of the Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance, discusses the county’s exceptional growth, initiatives to support that growth and his outlook.

What differentiates Maury County from other counties in the Nashville MSA?

What makes us very appealing is our lower cost of living compared to Nashville and other surrounding communities. You can enjoy a very good, affordable quality of life here, and less than an hour away you have the world-class amenities that Downtown Nashville offers.

Another unique advantage we offer is our strategic location between the Nashville MSA and Southern Middle Tennessee. Maury County serves as the regional hub for Southern Middle Tennessee. For the counties south and around us, this is where they come for their healthcare, shopping and other amenities. This location provides our current and future employers access to a vast and unique workforce of over 800,000 people. Within Southern Middle Tennessee there is a great supply of skilled labor and we have equal access to Northern Middle Tennessee which provides access to additional professional services talent.

What have been some major recent developments in Maury County?

We’ve announced seven different projects in the last 12 months, equating to almost 3,000 new jobs and over $5 billion in capital investment. All parts of the county, including Spring Hill, Columbia and Mount Pleasant, have been experiencing investment activity. The largest movement this past year has been around the automotive industry. General Motors and Ultium Cells have announced two huge investments in Maury County. GM will be adding the all new Cadillac Lyriq electric vehicle to their production line-up in Spring Hill and Ultium Cells will be producing the battery systems to power the Lyriq, as well as other EVs in General Motors’ portfolio. With the race to carbon neutrality, it’s exciting to serve as one of General Motors’ crown jewels and be on the forefront of the electric vehicle industry.

Additionally, we’re seeing a lot of residential development in response to the population boom. Literally thousands of homes are being constructed across the county. We also have a new, certified 200-acre rail served site in the city of Columbia, and we’ve been partnering with the Industrial Development Board of Maury County to create Innovation Campus, a 300-acre campus devoted to office, commercial, R&D and other non-manufacturing jobs. These two products add to the existing inventory of industrial parks within Maury County. 

In what ways do you hope to see Maury County’s economy grow and diversify?

Historically, our largest industries have been transportation equipment manufacturing, as well as chemical manufacturing. As a result of the energy demands from these industries, our power infrastructure in Maury County is excellent.

Going forward, we’re targeting metal fabrication as an industry we’d like to grow. The industry provides high-quality jobs, and we have the labor force to support it as well. Business services is another industry we have begun targeting, with developments such as the Innovation Campus helping to foster growth. While we know this is a long-term play, as most business-service operations prefer to be in dense urban cores, we want to be prepared — especially with many organizations shifting toward the suburbs in response to the pandemic. R&D and life sciences are also growing industries within Maury County.

What is the current state of Maury County’s economy?

Looking at some of the primary economic indicators, our unemployment rate jumped to around 22% during the height of the pandemic, and we’re already back to 4%. Sales tax collections have been up year-over-year on a monthly basis versus pre-pandemic, 2019 numbers. 

In what ways is Maury County nurturing workforce development?

In the past, our No. 1 initiative as an organization has always been business recruitment and expansion but that has moved to No. 2. Now, workforce development is our primary initiative. With this, we have introduced ALIGN Maury, which is a workforce alignment program designed to ensure the needs of our current and future employers are being met by the many workforce development, and education, partners in our region. Our K-12 school systems have made great strides in listening to our existing employers over the last few years, partnering with Columbia State Community College to bring dual enrollment programs that are focused on advanced manufacturing. By participating in this Engineering Systems Technology program, high-school students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree upon graduation and go right to work in a high-skilled, technical job.

The entire K-12 system in Mount Pleasant is particularly exceptional, partnering with many of the industries in the community to provide programs that are specific to what those local companies are doing.

What is your outlook for the local economy?

Our project pipeline is as full, if not surpassing, our 2019 activity levels. We’re going to continue to see an inflow of population growth, as well as small and medium businesses from less business friendly regions. For the last five years, Maury County has grown in population by 12%, and we’re expecting 13% growth over the next five years. That makes us one of the Top 5 out of the 95 counties in the state.

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