"This can’t be our solitary purpose, but for budget reasons it will be a main focus," Elam said. "The Eastern Corridor connecting Highway 70 and I-40 will not only be a traffic relief but a business generator."
And along with the population numbers, the amount of new businesses is also up, according to Elam. She said there were 165 new businesses in Mt. Juliet in the 2007 calendar year, and that to date 75 new businesses have opened in 2008. She said that while Mt. Juliet’s rampant growth is challenging, "it’s a good challenge to have."
"The problems we have are good problems," she noted. "I’m sure our proximity to Nashville has something to do with our growth, but you don’t see every city bordering Nashville flourishing like we are."
Elam attributed the city’s growth to many factors, saying that Mt. Juliet is "a pleasantly unique community" in which people have a tighter bond with their neighbors. She said that she, personally, had lived in many areas all across the country and didn’t feel the "unique warmth" that she feels in Mt. Juliet and her own neighborhood.
"You see a lot of transplants in Mt. Juliet without family nearby, and strangers who become neighbors rely on people more," Elam said, citing herself as an example.
She added that the community is "safe and welcoming," and that people can see the strong backbone by simply driving down Mt. Juliet’s streets, where there "is either a church or a bank on nearly every corner."
The validity of the final census numbers was not considered to be in jeopardy due to a recent controversy involving the former census director, both Elam and City Manager Randy Robertson reiterated on Monday.
"We did everything necessary to make sure, but we never doubted they would be accurate," Elam said.
Robertson commended City Planner Lisa Keylon on her work with the census, which she was involved in from nearly the beginning. Keylon joined the City staff from the State Planning office, which is in charge of verifying census numbers and worked diligently on testing the numbers to make sure they were correct, Robertson said.
"Her oversight made it an almost painless process," he remarked.
Keylon said the additional funds should start making their way into City coffers in August, once the State Revenue Department signs off on the number.
Mt. Juliet Economic and Community Development Director/City Liaison Kenny Martin wanted to acknowledge and thank local businesses that donated prizes which were given out as incentives toward the end of the census. He said a grand prize drawing will be held this week, with prizes including $500 savings bonds from First Freedom Bank and Wilson Bank & Trust and a bicycle donated by Regions Bank.