Industry base of the pyramid for Brookhaven’s business plan

Published 11:33 am Monday, January 16, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Industry leads the way in Brookhaven with $245 million spent or soon to be invested in four industrial park projects. Garrick Combs, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, said it is one of the biggest economic investments in Brookhaven since the Walmart Distribution Center was announced about 40 years ago.

Walmart Distribution, AITX, Brookhaven Pellets and Southwest Cooperative Electric are all working on projects in the industrial park. Combs said they expect Southwest to break ground on their district office project soon. 

“It is great for our community. Our state’s strategy has been to invest in primary jobs by working hard to recruit, court and build industrial parks,” he said. “They are meant to support retail, housing and banking. It is the foundation of our community and we can build new houses. People can get out there and start their own business. Industry is how the pyramid is built.” 

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Brookhaven’s City Clerk’s office reported 60 new businesses obtained licenses this past year with 715 business licenses issued or renewed. Business numbers can grow through the addition of more industrial plants and steel mills. Industrial jobs support small businesses in Brookhaven, Combs said. 

Brookhaven’s two industrial parks are key to the city’s long term comprehensive plan published in 2009. By 2030, the city hopes the industrial growth at the parks will help support a variety of businesses from retail to services. 

The chamber’s mission this year is to build on the base of customers and market the new businesses to people. Brookhaven’s Chamber of Commerce is able to give advice to businesses looking to come to Brookhaven. 

One goal the chamber has in 2023 is to find the right fit for their spec building at Linbrook Industrial Park. Keystone Electric purchased the last spec building in 2020 and the Chamber built a new one to find another business a home. Linbrook’s spec building has 50,000 square feet with the potential to expand to 150,000 square feet. 

“We want to sell the building to someone who will provide the employment and investment to the community we are looking for,” Combs said. “When you have an available building there are more opportunities to find someone. It might not always work out but the more lines you have in the water the better.” 

He said once they find a suitable buyer they will take a look at what they want to do next. Linbrook has 400 acres in case an industrial company wanted to build from the ground up. Cooperative Electric provides power at the park and Agracel helps look for new businesses to come to Brookhaven while shaping the spec building into what the customer needs. Combs said they partnered with Agracel in 2015. 

Small businesses

The chamber helps small businesses by creating a bigger pie. They drive people to Brookhaven through programming and encouraging people to come visit and shop. 

This past year was a healthy year with national brand names Rally’s, Huey Magoos and Tractor Supply announcing plans to come to town. Combs said it is exciting to see the businesses opening in Brookhaven. 

“When you drive around, the new construction coming up on our commercial corridors is very exciting,” Combs said. “We can continue to support a lot of local businesses. It is unique that we can do that. I think we have a good mixture here of local and national businesses. It is part of our charm.” 

One of the things he has been excited about is seeing the investment in downtown Brookhaven over the past few years. The chamber was able to return to pre-pandemic levels of participation in their programs such as Girls Night Out and Christmas Open house. 

People who opened a new business in Brookhaven can join the Chamber of Commerce. They receive access to email traffic, an opportunity to network and connect with fellow community members at ribbon cuttings and chamber events. 

Active members in the chamber can be nominated to serve as board members to help shape policy and the program of work the chamber performs. 

Aldermen take action

Brookhaven’s Board of Aldermen meeting in December saw the passage of a new ordinance on pool tables in downtown Brookhaven. Alderman Jeff Henning said the pool table ordinance in the central business district could allow restaurants to add something to their dining experience. Ordinances on marijuana, alcohol and liquor were passed in 2022 loosening up restrictions in the town. Beer and liquor sales were expanded to Sundays in restaurants, beer could be sold at convenience and grocery stores on Sundays and the hours of liquor sales were expanded to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 

Andre D. Spiller asked the board to create a beautification committee for the town in December. His motion was passed and now the aldermen are in the process of meeting with business owners and Brookhaven residents to form the new committee. 

He said the aim of the committee is to improve the entrances to Brookhaven and improve anything around the town which needs to look better. Places like the cemeteries and other spots needing to be maintained would be their focus. 

“It is to help the property value of homes and businesses and improve the overall look of the town,” Spiller said. “We just have to get some people from the Wards and businesses to get the committee going.”