BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee governor is the only person standing in the way now of further development of a major aerospace industrial park at Tri-Cities Airport. Heading for his signature is legislation to increase the airport’s borrowing power so it can garner funding and proceed on the project.
Area leaders say the park has countless possibilities for job creation.
“Attract aerospace related industries which are all high tech, high paying good stable jobs,” Tomita said.
Development of 160 acres there for the park has been in the works for nearly 20 years. Airport Authority Executive Director Patrick Wilson said it has the potential to attract companies that build and work on aircraft.
“We know there’s a lot of activity in the aerospace segment and we want to try to capture a piece of that for our region,” Wilson said.
He said the Airport Authority has already spent $23 million clearing and leveling the first 20-acres and installing infrastructure. Now $20 million dollars is needed to flatten the remaining 140 acres.
The new special legislation, passed by the house and senate and now headed the governor’s desk, will extend the borrowing power.
“Allow the airport to issue bonds but the cities and counties work to back those bonds for the funding of the aerospace park,” Wilson said.
With the expectation to bring in big business and up to 2,000 jobs, Tomita said backing the airport will be a game-changer.
“We get that done, we get an employer in there, that changes the whole outlook for Northeast Tennessee,” Tomita said.
Plans are to see development of the rest of aerospace park begin by this time next year.