Sullivan County approves financial agreement for aerospace park
SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Plans for an aerospace industrial park at Tri-Cities Airport took a major step forward today. Sullivan County commissioners voted today to invest more than $2 million in the project. It becomes the first signer of an interlocal financial agreement. The development is expected to bring as many as 2,000 high-paying jobs to the region.
The land, 160 acres with direct airfield access, could soon be prime for industrial development. That is as landowner, Tri-Cities Airport Authority, continues to get signatures of funding partners it needs for the new aerospace park.
"You have to be ready to attract these companies. You have to be ready with your workforce, with your site, with your infrastructure," Executive director Patrick Wilson said.
So far, 20-30 acres have been graded. An additional 10 are set to be cleared beginning next month, and more may possible with additional state grants. Major support is still required from government partners through a proposed $8.5 million bond issue.
Sullivan County commissioner Angie Stanley said, "Having the site already developed, when you have the manufacturing companies that want to come in, they already have the site there available and they're more liable to move into the area instead of going elsewhere."
The airport is seeking investments from localities based on population. Sullivan County commissioners voting to be the first signature on a interlocal government financial agreement. The county also becomes the largest investor, agreeing to back 27 percent of the total bond issue for nearly $2.3 million dollars.
"It's totally a site that's bringing high-paying jobs to the region and to the airport," Wilson said.
Recruiters hope to lure companies willing to hire 250 to 1,000 employees in aerospace manufacturing and service fields. The average salary on those jobs pay more than $60,000, and in some cases, more than $100,000.
Washington County, Tennessee and the cities of Kingsport, Bristol, and Johnson City each are listed as contributors all the deal.
Johnson City plans to vote on the interlocal agreement Thursday. They've committed nearly $2 million dollars to the project.
Washington County, TN has committed nearly $2 million, Kingsport will be responsible for almost $1.6 million, and Bristol, TN will pay just under $800,000.