Morgan site prepping for future Unicoi County jobs

Sue Guinn Legg • Mar 6, 2018 at 8:52 AM

ERWIN — In a community where living wage jobs are scarce and land suitable for industrial development is even scarcer, the former Morgan Insulation manufacturing site on the Highway 107 corridor into downtown Erwin holds great promise.

What the 16-acre, town-owned parcel lacks in curb appeal - its buildings were gutted left to the elements when the plant shut down several years ago - it makes up for in accessibility.

Rail lines run along the edge of the property. The no longer bustling but still open CSX terminal is located directly across the street. Interstate 26 is within sight of the property. And the largest concentration of the population of Unicoi County lives within walking distance.

Best yet for manufacturing and commercial investors looking for a place to do business, a TVA Invest Prep grant will have the site shovel-ready for development before the end of spring.

Several potential investors have already toured and otherwise expressed interest in the property and consultants have advised Erwin leaders it will be up to them to choose what type of business or industry they want on the property.

Mayor Doris Hensley has indicated the site may go to a combination of commercial and manufacturing enterprises.

The TVA grant funded demolition began last summer when the town put Morgan’s metal buildings up for bid and earned about $24,000 in revenue from contractors who dismantled, bundles and hauled away the metal away for scrap.

Debris removal began in January and is continuing. The Morgan silos were demolished in February. And leveling and seeding of the property will be completed by late May or early June.

To help market the property to potential investors, the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership of Unicoi, Washington and Carter counties provided the town with a set of aerial photos that NETREP CEO Mitch Miller said show not only the property layout and proximity to the center of Erwin but also the mountains ridges that surround it.

Also early this year, Unicoi County and Erwin leaders adopted a package of tax incentives for property improvements made by developers who meet specified criteria for job creation.

And if all of the above is not enough to sell the property, the Joint Economic Development Board of Unicoi County is applying for another grant that if awarded could take the Morgan site from “shovel-ready” to “pad-ready” for construction with utilities stubs, an access road and highway deceleration and turn lanes in place.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at sle[email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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