Highwoods is developing the Mars Petcare headquarters building, the only vertical construction going on at Ovation. // WILLIAMSON, INC.
By MATT BLOIS
Courting large businesses and trying convince them to move to Williamson County is an important way that the Williamson County Chamber of commerce tries to bolster the area’s economy.
In 2018, Williamson Inc. played an important role in bringing finance giant AllianceBernstein to the Nashville area. The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce also used Williamson County schools to attract 5,000 new jobs from Amazon to Middle Tennessee.
Last year, the private prison company CoreCivic announced that it will move its headquarters from Green Hills in Nashville to the Maryland Farms area in Brentwood.
In 2019, Williamson Inc. CEO Matt Largen said Williamson County should keep an eye out for even more companies moving to the area.
“We are currently working 33 expansion and relocation projects. A project refers to a company that is considering a major investment in Williamson County,” Largen wrote in an email. “If any one of those projects land in 2019, it would be the most exciting business story of the year. We do not have control of the timeline so it is hard to say when the projects will ultimately decide on their investment location.”
Largen didn’t say which companies are considering a move to the county, but he said some existing companies are planning expand their footprint in Williamson County.
Last year, Franklin based Mars Petcare announced that it would move its U.S. headquarters to the Ovation development in Franklin. According to Williamson Inc., the company employed 800 people in Williamson County in 2016, making it one of the largest employers in the county.
The new headquarters could help the company create about 200 jobs over the next five years, according to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. The new headquarters should open in the summer of 2019.
“Mars Petcare has been a great corporate citizen in Williamson County and their continued investment reinforces the notion that Cool Springs is a great destination for corporate headquarters,” Largen wrote in an email.
Corporate relocations and expansion can lead to a windfall of investment and new jobs, but Largen said Williamson Inc. is also focusing on supporting startups and entrepreneurs. The chamber recently partnered with the Heritage Foundation to start an innovation and entrepreneurship center at the former O’More College of Design.
“I believe the recent announcement of our partnership with the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County on a new entrepreneurship center has the most potential to change the business landscape in 2019,” Largen wrote in an email. “It will encourage collaboration among the tenants and become a launching pad for companies as they continue to grow in Williamson County.”
The labor market in Williamson County remains tight going into 2019. In October 2018, Williamson County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 2.7 percent. Although, that’s slightly higher than the rate of 2.4 percent in October, 2017.