Officials celebrate unofficial groundbreaking of Love's Travel Stop
A cold and windy day could not dampen the spirits of those gathered for the unofficial groundbreaking of the new Love's Travel Stop and Country Store which will be located on Hwy. 78 across from Cracker Barrel. On Thursday afternoon, Mark and Alesia Bowers were joined by Rick Shuffield of Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores, real estate broker Bob Carpenter, Dyersburg Mayor John Holden, State Rep. Bill Sanderson, Dyer County Mayor Chris Young and former county mayor Richard Hill as the Bowers celebrated the close of sale of their property to Love's.
"There's not an interstate truck stop that's like this from Kentucky all the way to the Missouri line, so this is going to be excellent for Dyersburg," said Bowers.
Love's Travel Stops are company owned and operated with approximately 360 franchises currently operating in 39 states. The plan is to begin construction of the modern travel center in June. The 10-acre parcel will have 77 car parks, 89 truck parks, a convenience store, a Hardee's restaurant, a gift shop, and a tire-care facility for trucks. Another amenity that will be available for long-haul drivers is a shower facility. Loves' officials are planning for an opening by the end of 2015.
"We're happy that they chose to come to Dyersburg and Dyer County. I think it will be a great asset for not only people passing through, but for our residents as well," said Young.
In relation to job opportunities and projections for how may employees the travel center would employ, Shuffield said, "We are expecting to have 40 t0 50 full-time jobs. We'll also have some part-time employees, but as a general rule we prefer to hire full time so we can offer full-range benefits. We have found that if you can give people more of a consistent shift and benefits, they stay with you longer." The hiring of general employees will begin 30 to 45 days prior to the facility's opening.
"It's a great day for Dyersburg. We're very happy for Mark and his wife, and for the ability to continue development on this side of the interstate. New business means new jobs and more opportunities; growth for Dyersburg is always important. We just really appreciate the Bowers' family and all the folks with the city who worked really hard to make this become a reality. Also, it was a pleasant experience working with Rick Shuffield on this project, and getting to know him and developing a relationship between Love's and the support staff of the city," said Holden.
As part of Love's improvements, there will be a right-hand turn lane into the site, a traffic light, and a left-hand turn lane, much as it exits now, for entrance to Cracker Barrel and any potential future development on the west side of Hwy. 78.
Carpenter noted that one of the impediments to bringing Love's here and developing the property was the driveway access permit. "Our local city mayor, John Holden, and Representative Sanderson were very instrumental in making that permit happen through TDOT, because there was an issue with the right-of-way access fence there."
Bowers agreed: "I couldn't have sold that property or developed it without Representative Sanderson or Mayor John Holden. I think it's one of those things where private enterprise and local government and county government can all work together, and who wins is Dyersburg and Dyer County."
Shuffield noted that his projects normally stretch out anywhere from two to 10 years. However, with the "business friendly" atmosphere and cooperation of the city and county officials in focusing on helping Love's find solutions to problems, the time to complete this phase of the project was greatly shortened.
"We wouldn't have been here today without that (cooperation). We'd still be under contract and just kind of muddling through what we needed to do and talking about this happening next year," said Shuffield.
"The state was very happy to do our part to make sure this could happen," said Sanderson. "There's a real need for more truck-access parking because we do have an increasing population of transfer trucks moving the freight up and down these main corridors, and this being one of them. We had some legislation this year that was going to allow for trucks to park on the exit and entrance ramps of I-40 or any interstate, but the bill did not pass. Obviously it did emphasize the concern and need for more truck parking. And so, we're real excited to have this development coming into Dyer County. We have developments like this coming throughout the state, which we need. I'm proud that I could be of assistance getting them the access into this area, because there was a TDOT fence that had to be moved, and they were very cooperative," said Sanderson.