Wednesday, October 06, 2010

EDITORIAL: Aspire proves itself again

Once again, Aspire Clarksville has hit a home run.

Last week, the foundation announced that local businesses had pledged $3.5 million to carry out an economic development strategy. It brought in commitments from new participants and got existing businesses to commit to a higher level than in the past. The fundraising campaign had its official kickoff just last December.

There's no doubt that the two businessmen who led the campaign — Ben Kimbrough and Jack Turner — played a large part in reaching the goal so quickly and effectively, and the community thanks them for their tremendous efforts. The $1.2 billion Hemlock Semiconductor project also encouraged business leaders to contribute.

Aspire Clarksville, which is the Economic Development Council's private marketing arm, will use the $3.5 million to help the community reach these strategies for its Vision to the Future:

•Global business development — establishing Clarksville as part of a Foreign Trade Zone and recruiting businesses in industries that complement Hemlock Semiconductor.

•Tourism development — marketing and recruiting of events and group tours.

•Retail recruitment — generating interest in Clarksville-Montgomery County as the home of new shopping venues and restaurants.

A review of the Aspire foundation last year found that from 2005 to 2008, it attracted four companies and the expansion of nine others. That, in turn, led to the creation of 1,123 new direct jobs, generating direct earnings of $51.7 million, and bringing in more than $2.8 billion in new capital investment for Clarksville-Montgomery County.

This application of private dollars to market the area with the aim of brining new and better-paying jobs here and settting Clarksville-Montgomery on a course to become a regional leader has paid off.

At the launch of this latest campaign, Kimbrough and Turner — both longtime leaders in economic development — encouraged younger generations to take on the mantle. Last week, James Chavez, president and chief executive officer of the EDC, said the two had done a "great job in getting the leaders in their 40s and 50s to get involved and commit to following in their footsteps."

Aspire Clarksville has inspired, and our community and its citizens are the ultimate beneficiaries.

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