SOUTH PITTSBURG, TN. (WDEF)-- We see indications of it daily, but hard facts showing a genuine economic recovery are elusive.
The jobless rate is still high, and retail sales are sluggish, but there is one indicator that is encouraging---Home construction.
That will benefit from the expansion of a flooring plant in Marion county.
New houses need flooring and carpet mills in this area are expanding and starting to re-hire.
Marion county got good news this week.
The Shaw Industries Plant in South Pittsburg will be expanding by more than 60% over the next few months.
This one is not a carpet mill, but an engineered flooring facility that will add about 25 more full time jobs to the 200 already there.
DAVID ABBOTT, CHAIRMAN, PARTNERSHIP FOR INDUSTRIAL DEV. "Marion county has been hit pretty severely with several things, but fortunately today, with Shaw Industry, Prologue coming in the north end of the county, in Whitwell...a few things happening in the Jasper area, we feel like progress in Marion county is really moving forward."
Shaw has already added 65 jobs so far this year, and increased the number of shifts.
The company will invest 40-million dollars on this upgrade of the plant.
All of that translates into confidence in the economy.
TIM MCCLURE "I think the economy is coming back and we see houses moving and that's a trend we haven't seen in a few years."
Tim McClure is president of the Chattanooga Homebuilders association.
TIM MCCLURE, PRES., MCCLURE DEVELOPMENT CO. "Houses are starting to sell, we're starting to build again and more than a house or two at a time, the banks are starting to lend ....So things are looking a lot better than they were a year or two ago."
One of the cornerstones of a healthy economy is homebuilding.
When a house goes up it boosts sales of almost everything including appliances, furniture, and utilities.
TIM MCCLURE "We've got building going on on both sides of the river...and that's a good sign."
There's one negative indicator as the tri-state moves toward complete recovery from the recession---Chattanooga's unemployment rate has jumped to 8.3% in late summer.
The jobless rate for most surrounding counties is around 7.8%.