Taming the terrain of the aerospace park

Robert Houk • Updated Feb 23, 2018 at 8:31 AM

Blountville — Members of the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership were told Wednesday that work will soon begin to tame the rugged terrain of the 160-acre Aerospace Park at Tri-City Airport.

Before being given a bus tour of the park site, TCA Executive Director Patrick Wilson told NETREP officials that some people “are taken aback” by the topography of its location.

“We know that’s just East Tennessee terrain,” Wilson said.

He also told economic development representatives from Carter, Unicoi and Washington counties that the TCA Airport Authority voted earlier in the day to issue $8 million in bonds for detailed design work of the next phase of the project. The authority also agreed to apply a $4.1 million state aeronautics grant to that work.

If all goes as planned, Wilson said the work could begin as early as August. He said plans call for taking down the highest ground of the park and using that material to level up one of its lowest sections. The project still needs another $4 million to complete, but Wilson said he is confident that money will be found.

Meanwhile, work is progressing to add acreage to an already completed 21-acre section of the park. Wilson said most tenants of the park are looking for sites with 50 or more acres. He said the additional acreage would make the Blountville airport “more competitive” in marketing the park.

Wilson said the airport has been working to develop the south side of its property — where the park is located — for nearly 18 years. He said partnering with local cities and counties have helped propel the project in the last two years.

With Tennessee ranked the fourth most cost-effective place in the United States for businesses associated with the aerospace industry to locate, Wilson said completion of the TCA park would make this region a leader in this state.

“There would not be another airport with as many ready-to-build sites available,” Wilson said.

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