Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Mayor of Bolivar, Tennessee, Julian McTizic to the newsmaker line to discuss a little history of his town and the recent decision by formerly Long Island City, New York-based business Wall Innovations to relocate its headquarters in Bolivar.
Leahy: We are joined now on our newsmaker line by Julian McTizic, the Mayor of Bolivar in Hardeman County. Good morning, Julian.
McTizic: Good morning. Good morning.
Leahy: Okay, so let me begin with a couple of mysteries. Are you ready? McTizic, I’ve not heard of that surname. It sounds like it’s either Irish or Scotch or Scots-Irish in background. What’s the history of McTizic as a surname?
McTizic: I’ve been told, I don’t know this for sure, but I’ve been told that it is Ireland. And my family story actually comes from my great-great granddad. Our families were purchased by slave owners of Irish descent.
Our family took that name on. Actually, I have relatives in the Nashville area that go by McKissic. There were two brothers. One went by McTizic, one went by McKissic, and they just had the spelling different.
They went to different schools and they didn’t know how to read much. So that’s what I’ve been told. That’s as far as back of the history I know now.
Leahy: So that would be, sort of, your ancestors would have been owned by this family, McTizic family, in West Tennessee? Is that what you’re told in your family history?
McTizic: Yes, sir. Correct.
Leahy: Interesting, because I’ve not heard McTizic that much, and I think it’s a distinctive Tennessee name from what I can tell. A lot of McTizics in Tennessee, right?
McTizic: Yes. And they’re all descendants from Tennessee, but we have other relatives in the Chicago area, Iowa area, but they are all from Tennessee.
Leahy: Very interesting. So I think you’re a very young mayor of Bolivar, Tennessee. You were what, 30 years old when you were first elected in 2017, is that right?
McTizic: That’s correct. I took office at 30 years old. I’m now 35, I guess in December.
Leahy: You are a grizzled veteran now. (Chuckles) At 35.
McTizic: Yes. I have to stop saying I’m young. I’m a repeat offender as Mayor now. So I’m second time in. (Chuckles)
Leahy: The second mystery, Bolivar, is named after the South American Liberator, Simon Bolivar. How did that happen?
McTizic: Well, that’s still a mystery. I actually did a Capstone Report on my economic development course when I received my certification as a developer, my story went back and forth. And my mentor I was working with, he kept asking me, you got to tell me more about the name Bolivar.
It has to be some connection. Why that name? And we have no real reason here that I have been able to research to find other than the community wanted to name the community after Simon Bolivar.
No one had a reason why other than him being liberated and Brazil there, that was it. We had nothing else to go from. And he finally passed me because he couldn’t find anything else either. So that’s all we have.
Leahy: I am a little tangentially related to this. I’m from upstate New York, and I grew up in, all around, upstate New York and little kind of small towns. Mostly dairy towns, a lot of dairy industry, a lot of farms, and there is an Allegheny County.
There’s a town that was founded shortly after them in the early 19th century. It’s called Bolivar, New York. Again, a small town like yours. And I think your theory makes an awful lot of sense.
There was a desire, and it turns out this is something to look at, a strong abolitionist movement in upstate New York in the early 19th century.
I think that they named Bolivar, New York, in Allegheny County, sort of because Simon Bolivar was a liberator against the colonialism of Spain and South America. So I think maybe right around that time … When was Bolivar founded?
McTizic: In 1825. As a city around 1824, something like that. But I think we actually received a charter from the state of Tennessee.
Leahy: And that’s around the time Simon Bolivar was actively liberating. And it’s about the same time also that Bolivar, New York, was founded in upstate New York. So I think your theory is a good one.
McTizic: Yes. There’s a Bolivar, Missouri. We have a Bolivar County, and they’re all the same way. This is my first time hearing about a Bolivar, New York.
I’ll have to do some research there, but we’re all thinking the same thing. As I said, it was just the movement, and everyone took off from there.
Leahy: You are in Hardeman County, West Tennessee, not too far from Memphis. But it’s a rural county with about 27,000 people. How big is Bolivar?
McTizic: Bolivar is a little over 5,000. The county seat is Hardeman.
Leahy: A thriving metropolis at 5,000.
McTizic: We’re on top of it.
Leahy: Yeah, I like that size of town. The towns that I grew up in, in upstate New York, typically were between, like, 2,000, 5,000 people.
That’s a great place to grow up, because as a small-town kid, you get to know everybody. You get a sense of who you are, you get a sense of how to deal with other people. Is that your experience growing up in Bolivar?
McTizic: Yes. It’s funny, because I have the exact same experience, and I feel like you feel about it now. But growing up as a kid, I hated it because everyone knew my family and we grew up here.
It was like a village when the family helped raise other kids. So if I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, my mom and dad knew about it before I even made it home.
Leahy: Yes, it sounds like it was like for me growing up in upstate New York. (Laughter) My parents would get a call. “You know what Mike is doing right now?”
McTizic: Right. It’s funny. That’s why I moved back home, for that same atmosphere, because I wanted to raise my kids around that same atmosphere instead of the Metropolitan area.
Leahy: So I moved from upstate New York, ultimately through a couple of other states, but came here to Tennessee, the best state in the Union, 31 years ago.
Looks to me like you’re doing a great job there with economic development. Looks like you’ve attracted a New York state company to come down there. Tell us about those details.
McTizic: We made the announcement with Commissioner Rolfe last Friday, that Wall Innovations will be moving their North American manufacturing plant to Hardeman County here in Bolivar. We are excited about the move there.
They are moving from Long Island City, New York. And they’re going to be a great plus to our community. They have already moved in and started making themselves neighbors and making themselves a part of our community. Seventy-two quality jobs in the first phase, and they are looking to expand from there.
Leahy: Obviously, they had a manufacturing facility in Long Island City, New York, is that right?
McTizic: Correct, yes. The manufacturing facility was there in New York, and they closed it. I believe they opened it up right during the market crash in 2008. And they opened it back and they closed it back because of the workforce there in New York.
And their company made a decision, I guess a couple of years ago they were going to move and then the hunt started on what state, what city, and they started that process. And we were fortunate to get in contact with them and go from there.
Leahy: Are they opening up a headquarters? Is it in Bolivar? How big is it and how did you make this happen?
McTizic: Yes, the North American headquarters will be here. They are a subsidiary of Alumil, which is a worldwide manufacturer of aluminum, windows, and doors. So they’re moving their North American headquarters for Wall Innovations here to Bolivar.
Sometimes you have those feelings and some things are sometimes too good to be true. When we first had the connections with Wall Innovations, it was only Zoom of a friend of a friend that I met in some kind of way, he heard about a company that may be considering a move.
So I was like, well, I would love to talk to them and some kind of way we got it all arranged. And what I expected it to be, probably a two- to three-minute Zoom introduction, ended up being maybe like an hour conversation about Bolivar and the state of Tennessee.
And we talked and we talked and then they heard about the Ford announcement here in West Tennessee and that drew even more attention.
Leahy: And why did the Ford announcement make them interested in coming to Bolivar?
McTizic: Their concern was the workforce. And one of the members of the company, the president, asked, “Well, your population is 5,000 in Bolivar and 27,000 in Hardeman County …”
I think he came to Nashville for a conference, but other than that, he had no recollection in Tennessee. And he was saying, “Well, do you have the population to make this happen? I’m afraid that you guys don’t have enough workforce.” And before I even said anything, one of the members of the Zoom setup said “Well, look at it like this: If Ford can come to southwest Tennessee and hire over 5,000 people, surely we can come to southwest Tennessee and find 100 or 200.”
Leahy: There you go. When are they physically going to be there?
McTizic: They are planning to break ground in about two months.
Leahy: Great. We will send a reporter to get a picture of you breaking ground with the guys at Wall Renovations down in Bolivar, Tennessee.
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Mayor McTizic” by Julian McTizic and “Bolivar Main Street is by The City of Bolivar.