Industry is Emphasized
Throughout the '60s the city concentrated on industry and education to grow the economy. The emphasis began with an industry-seeking trip in 1960 by city council members to promote the county as a good choice for manufacturers to locate.
And in 1962, the White County Industrial Development Board was chartered. Several facilities opened in the decade, including Sparta Manufacturing Company and COVCO garment factory in 1960. In 1962, Thomas Industries, which at that time was the largest manufacturer of residential lighting fixtures in America, opened a facility that employed 300 workers. Douglas Aircraft Company opened a plant in 1966, and P.R. Mallory Co. announced plans to build an 80,000 sq. ft. facility in 1968.
One of the most significant regional events affecting area industry was the U.S. Development Administration's designation of the 14-county area surrounding Sparta as Upper Cumberland Economic Development District, creating the largest such district in the nation, and it sparked synergy among the counties to spur economic growth.
Progress continued through the '70s and '80s with the opening of Wagner Electric in 1971 and Sutton Shirt Manufacturing in 1972. And in 1983, the city purchased land for a 30-plus-acre industrial park.