The chamber held its Annual Celebration event Nov. 19 in the new McEwen Northside development, still under construction in Cool Springs along McEwen Drive. Much of the event focused on the Cool Springs area, which has changed vastly over the past 30 years, according to chamber officials.
“This area was very nearly [slated for] industrial warehouses and manufacturing,” Williamson Inc. President Matt Largen said during the event. “An owner was approached several times by a group that wanted to turn this into Middle Tennessee’s industrial corridor, which would have changed this area [dramatically] in Williamson County. Thank goodness it wasn’t. Cool Springs has been a job generator for the past 30 years and we’re really thankful for the people that came before us and the decisions they made to get where we are today in Williamson County.”
Fred Diaz, the president and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors North America, delivered the event’s keynote address and spoke about why the company chose Williamson County for its headquarters relocation from Cypress, California, earlier this year.
“Fundamentally, we needed to look for a better place with a better cost of doing business, and having lived in Williamson County in the past, we knew this was a great place to do business,” Diaz said. “We needed to change our way of thinking, and I knew that coming to Tennessee would give us the ability to bring in new people in the organization that would help us change the way we go to market, the way we do business and the way we think about our business going forward.”
Diaz formally announced during the event the automaker would move into McEwen Northside’s office building on the east side of the development. The building is still under construction; however, Mitsubishi is expected to move in in spring 2020, according to a news release. The company is expected to create about 150 new jobs in the area and is still hiring, Diaz said.
Elizabeth McCreary, the chief economic development officer for Williamson Inc., said the county has positioned itself as an attractive area for companies to relocate to; however, the chamber also focuses on retention to keep companies and jobs in the region.
“Business retention is actually the most important thing we do,” she said. “Business recruitment is the thing that gets the most press, and it’s the most talked about, but it’s the retention part that we care about the most. The moment that Fred and his team made the announcement and committed to us, all of a sudden this becomes retention. They are now one of ours, and we need to do everything we can to take care of them and support them.”
Mitsubishi is the newest confirmed tenant for McEwen Northside, which also includes Perry’s Steakhouse, Tiff’s Treats, Prose, Club Pilates and Williamson Inc., which announced it would relocate its offices earlier this year. The center will also feature a Springhill Suites hotel as well as 580 multifamily units, 10 acres of green space and a total of 750,000 square feet of office space, according to Boyle Investment Co., the developer for the project.
Thomas McDaniel, the director of office properties at Boyle Investment in Nashville, said the company is looking to adapt how it builds properties to reflect changes in what tenants want.
“We are excited about this development like a project we have not done before,” McDaniel said. “Boyle has been building office, retail [and] multifamily for 90 years, but they’ve done them on their own, and they’ve done great buildings. But we think the days of differentiating [only] from the inside, we think those days are passed. We think what tenants really want going forward is more than just a great building; they want an environment, a differentiated environment that helps them hire people [and] helps their company to be perceived to be more cutting edge and more attractive.”