Regional collaboration: 160-acre exansion for Aerospace Park
SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Bristol, Kingsport, Johnson City, and Sullivan and Washington counties are supporting a 160-acre expansion to aerospace park. 140 more acres are being added to the original 21 acres for expansion. Now with 160 acres of space, aerospace companies involved in manufacturing and service are being heavily recruited to the Tri-Cities.
"Anything from the manufacturer of an engine, or manufacturer of a complete aircraft, to the companies that provide the service for those aircraft, that do the service, maintenance, repair, overhaul of those aircraft throughout the entire aircraft's life," says executive director at Tri-Cities Airport Authority Patrick Wilson.
It's expected that with new industry will come nearly 2,000 new high paying jobs.
"These jobs are going to be starting above 50,000 with a lot of them well into the six figure range. It's the kind of jobs we want here," says Johnson City Mayor David Tomita.
City officials say this project can go a long way to improve the entire region's quality of life.
"We expect to grow, we expect to have well educated, highly skilled workers at this park. All of those factors and everything that those types of workers bring to our society really permeates throughout the region," says Kingsport Mayor John Clark.
It's unique regional collaboration that's making it possible according to a visiting gubernatorial candidate who's also a former state economic development commissioner.
"One of the things that's so lacking across the state, across the county, is regions collaborating, and I think the way the communities came together to work to make this successful is setting an example for the entire state," says republican Tennessee gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd.
They've come a long way, but they're not done yet.
"We're also going to be competing for a grant from the Tennessee Aeronautical Economic Development fund to hopefully match as much of that city/county funding commitment as we can, with the ultimate goal of building out the entire 160 acres and having it ready for industry," Wilson says.