By Xavier Smith
Mt. Juliet and Wilson County leaders discussed several aspects of business and development Friday during the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce development meeting.
Dennis Buchanan, Mt. Juliet public affairs director, Mt. Juliet commissioners Brian Abston and Ray Justice, Rep. Susan Lynn, Wilson County Joint Economic and Community Development director G.C. Hixson and Wilson County Tourism Director Jenny Bennett updated business leaders on developments and trends.
“We’re meeting every day with several people who are wanting to come to Mt. Juliet. Our biggest problem is finding locations,” Buchanan said.
“We are seeing some issue with some brick-and-mortar buildings because the e-commerce is making a difference right now. Amazon is busting at the seams. People might go look at what they want to order online, but they don’t buy it in the store. We’re starting to see that, and to be honest, I’m worried about that.”
Hixson said Buchanan described a new trend called last-minute distribution, which means consumers order online and pick up at stores, or purchase at stores and have items delivered to their homes.
“What I see is some of your big boxes becoming less retail sales but more of that last-minute distribution – Uber drivers delivering things, drones someday possibly,” Hixson said. “We see some of those trends going on.”
Justice and Abston discussed business in Mt. Juliet, including HH Gregg, which recently announced it filed for bankruptcy and would close its Providence store.
“It’s such a great location, and I know a lot of people are already looking at that, so somebody will probably go in that real quick,” said Abston, who said he was told Gander Mountain and J.C. Penney would remain open despite recent reports of financial troubles.
“Like a lot of the places in the Providence area, they’re some of the top performing in the country, so those two are safe for now,” he said.
Justice said he is working with city and state officials to bring more sidewalks to the north side of town. He said he has inquired about the possibility of including the sidewalks with state projects.
Bennett introduced herself to the crowd and described her purpose as tourism director, which she became earlier this year. She previously worked for Cracker Barrel’s home office and has lived Wilson County resident for 15 years.
She said she sees the potential for tourism growth in Wilson County, especially with its proximity to Nashville and major highways.
“I just feel like the sky is the limit. We have a lot of opportunity here. I have some big audacious goals and plans, and I’m excited for the future. I feel like we have a lot to offer, and I can’t wait to tell our guests all about it,” Bennett said.