Franklin, Millington, Germantown, Brentwood, Collierville. What do these five Tennessee cities have in common? And how does Millington, with its unpretentious middle-class roots, come to be in that exalted company of posh bedroom suburbs?
- Terry Roland
The list of Tennessee's "best cities to live in" is hot off the press, and it comes from ChamberofCommerce.org, a national support organization for America's numerous Chamber entities. Here was their methodology: "We ranked a total of 2,509 qualified cities (those with populations above 25,000 and enough data for analysis) by five factors: employment (number of establishments, median earnings); housing (owner-occupied housing with a mortgage, monthly housing costs); quality of life (work commute, poverty levels); education (percentage with a bachelor's degree or higher); and health (obesity ratios)."
Franklin, described as "an affluent, fast-growing city of nearly 81,000 in Williamson County," gets the award as "the best Tennessee city to live in." And next comes Millington, "a small city in the southwest corner of the state that is best known as home to the Naval Support Activity Mid-South naval base, which provides over 7,000 jobs to residents in the area and is one of the largest employers in Tennessee."
Trailing behind are Germantown, Brentwood, and Collierville, in that order, and beneath them are the also-rans, with Memphis finishing 24th and the other major regional municipality, Jackson, coming in at 34.
Now you might understand why, in the aftermath of my lost race for Shelby County mayor last year, I described my coming to be the executive vice-president of the Millington Chamber of Commerce as "probably the best thing that ever happened to me in my life."
Here's a checklist that resulted from me asking a few fellow Millingtonians to do some modest bragging about our city at a Chamber luncheon earlier this year.
Mayor Terry Jones started things off by talking about a few of the city improvement projects under way: a wastewater treatment plant here, new traffic lights there, road construction on major thoroughfares, street improvements, work started on a soon-to-be five-lane bridge, a new fire station, Waffle House, Arby's, and numerous other franchises coming in, grading projects, and a new recreational center, including an amphitheater, planned for the southern approaches to the city.
Quite properly, Mayor Jones credited our city manager, Ed Haley, our Industrial Development Board (IDB), and the Millington Board of Aldermen for their sterling advance preparation and work on these projects.
Next up was Charles Gulotta of the IDB, a man I call my mentor. He talked at length about our latest pride and joy, the new 53-megawatt solar farm built on city-owned turf in tandem with Silicon Ranch Inc. and TVA. Opened in April, the farm is three-and-a-half times the size of any other such facility in Tennessee and can generate enough power for 7,500 homes.
One of our assets is an abundance of land, enough to have created space for a new, 135,000-square-foot retail development called The Shops of Millington and the impressive new $25 million thoroughfare, Veterans Parkway, where the Chamber office is.
As Gulotta pointed out, we sold 28 acres to Roadmasters for developing a truck-driving school to produce some of the estimated 50,000 commercial drivers needed in the country. And we have unparalleled access to major state and federal roadways.
Did we lose some momentum when the old Naval Air Station closed down a couple of decades back? We did, but the surviving installation, known as Naval Support Activity Mid-South, remains our largest employer, and its retiring personnel are a prime source of new, skilled workforce for this region.
There are also the airport facilities, which the Navy deeded over to the city, including an 8,000-foot-long runway, the third longest in Tennessee. What is now called Millington-Memphis Airport is an ever-developing facility with an economic impact of $14 million a year.
We've got a lot more on our brag list, including a thriving new city-run public school system and such intangibles as the weekly dances held on Saturday nights at Millington's Strand Theater, featuring professional players and a musical prodigy or two.We're grateful to ChamberofCommerce.org for telling the world about us. Come take a look for yourself. We're only 20 minutes from Downtown Memphis.
Terry Roland, a Millington businessman and former Shelby County commissioner, is executive vice-president of the Millington Chamber of Commerce.