2009 was a difficult year for most of the United States as the country entered a period of economic turmoil and recession. Tennessee, like a lot of states was hit particularly hard along with many industries.
There are many stories of failure from what some have called the “Great Recession”. The story of Northfield is one of those stories. A story that was born of failure, but that has become one of success.
Northfield was originally constructed as part of the Saturn plant in Spring Hill, TN in the later part of the 1980’s. This 320,000 sq. ft. building was filled with the administrative offices for the GM car company and also housed a training facility for automotive workers. However, the plant ceased operations in the Fall of 2009 as GM faced bankruptcy and Northfield was facing an uncertain future.
In an effort to help unemployed workers from the Middle Tennessee region find employment during the early part of the recession, The South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance (SCTWA) requested and was given permission by GM to run a temporary career center in the vacant facility. With help from State Rep. Ty Cobb, the SCTWA was able to obtain a $5Million grant from the State of TN to purchase Northfield. By Oct. 2014 the deal was finalized and GM transferred ownership of the property and Northfield began its new life as a workforce development and training center.
Since then, Northfield has become home for 4 colleges, the Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce and corporate tenants that employ hundreds. People from nearby towns finish high school, get a college degree in one of many different studies or train for a new job skill. Although Northfield has several tenants and other businesses are opening offices, call centers or new locations in the facility, there are still great spaces available. Northfield also has conference space for events, a showroom and even a theater all available for rent to the public.
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said, “There are no second acts in American lives.”, but Northfield has proven that there are second acts for places that have a use when a community, State government and committed individuals see an opportunity to make a positive difference for the future.