BLOUNTVILLE — The next phase of work is beginning on Tri-Cities Airport’s Aerospace Park.

Construction of an aircraft ramp is expected to begin in the fall. It’s slated to take a year to complete at a cost of $3.5 million.

Airport officials say the park will go hand in hand with the airport and nearby Northeast State Community College’s aviation program.

Tri-Cities Airport Executive Director Patrick Wilson estimates the Aerospace Park could create between 1,500 and 2,000 jobs. He expects detailed design of the park to begin in the fall and grading of the land to start next spring.

“The opportunity for quality advanced manufacturing-type jobs is the biggest goal,” said Wilson of development of the park.

The site is adjacent to the airport in Blountville. Twenty-one acres of the future 160-acre park have been graded and prepped as a cost-savings incentive to more easily attract companies to build there. The entire site will eventually be prepped.

Mark Canty, the airport’s director of trade and business development, said Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development has found that businesses don’t want to wait for site preparation.

“They want something that’s ready for immediate construction,” he said.

The 21 acres that are ready could be taken by one company or several smaller companies, according to Wilson.

Canty said he has three to four prospects but wouldn’t name the companies.

It will take $17 million to prep the rest of the site. The cities and counties that make up the Airport Authority — both Bristols, Kingsport, Johnson City, Sullivan County and Washington County — will pay $8.5 million of the cost. Wilson plans to fund the other half with an aeronautical economic grant.

An intergovernmental agreement is currently being drafted for the government bodies of those cities and counties to consider. Wilson hopes it will be ready in August.

A municipal advisor agreement with Raymond James & Associates for the Aerospace Park’s funding initiative was approved by the authority in April. The agreement states that the proposed initiative would involve the cities and counties “jointly funding debt service on up to $18 million in bonds to be issued through TCAA [Tri-Cities Airport Authority].”