Tennessee Industrial Megasite Put on Hold in West Tennessee

By:David Hutton

Tennessee (TheLoop/AP)-  State officials decided Thursday to delay the acquisition of $40 million worth of land for an industrial megasite in West Tennessee because they want a more detailed account of which specific land would be bought.

The State Building Commission sent the proposal to an executive subcommittee that can still act on it with enough time to complete the deal before options on more than 8 square miles of Haywood County land expire on Oct. 31.

Republican members of the panel who raised concerns over the lack of detail said the move shouldn’t be interpreted as lack of support for the project.

“I’m all for this, 100 percent for this,” said Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville. “We just want to make sure all the I’s are dotted, and the T’s crossed.”

Highlights of the project include:

  • 1,700-acre site hopefully attracting investors similar to that of Volkwagen AG in Chattanooga and Hemlock Semiconductor Corp. plant under construction in Clarkesville
  • $30 million in federal stimulus money to build a 20-acre solar power generation plant on the site is awaiting approval.
  • The state has options on 3,600 acres beyond the 1,700 acres designated as the core of the site.

Mark Drury, Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development said acquiring the land and developing its infrastructure will make the site “shovel ready” and more attractive to potential investors.

Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz said officials will work to finalize the exact boundaries of the megasite for the panel.

House Speaker Kent Williams expressed surprise that incorporation papers for the Haywood megasite authority weren’t filed with the secretary of state’s office until the day before Thursday’s meeting.

The megasite is “a project we desperately need to create jobs, and I don’t understand why this wasn’t set up some time back,” said Williams, R-Elizabethton.

Williams urged the commission and administration officials to work quickly so “we’re not jeopardizing, or losing these options in any way.”

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press

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