Regionalism: Officials break ground on new industrial site at Bristol Business Park

Zach Vance • Aug 20, 2018 at 11:30 PM

A new industrial site at the Bristol Business Park not only benefits Bristol, Tennessee, it could stimulate economic activity across the region.

Monday morning’s groundbreaking event on a new 50-acre industrial site within the Bristol Business Park was yet another example of the Tri-Cities’ newfound model of regionalism, where cooperation among Tri-Cities counties and cities is prioritized over competition.

Officials from the City of Bristol, Tennessee, Bristol Tennessee Essential Services, and other state and local agencies gathered, shovels in hand, to celebrate the endeavor. The ceremony marked the beginning of a grading and site preparation project that will result in 36 acres of the site being “pad-ready” and capable of accommodating a 450,000-square-foot building.

The park, owned by BTES, is centrally located within the Tri-Cities at the corner of Highway 394 and Summit Street, roughly 10 miles from Interstate 81.

“It’s true all ships rise with the tide. This is going to get us noticed by site selectors who have clients all over the world. There are a lot of companies looking to move out of Europe (and) out of Asia to get closer to their markets. And this actually provides that because it’s very accessible from this site to get to the interstate system to get to the deepwater port in Charleston, S.C.,” Tom Anderson, economic development director for the City of Bristol, Tennessee, said.

“It’s also very central in the Tri-Cities. One of the attractive pieces of this site is, given our laborshed going into our CSA (combined statistical area), you’re looking at over half a million people that could actually come and be employed here. They could still live in Kingsport, or live in Johnson City, but they could easily get to this site if there was a company with a good job there.”

Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership CEO Mitch Miller agreed.

“People live in Johnson City and they drive to Bristol every day. Or people live in Elizabethton and drive to Bristol every day. Economies are regional,” Miller said.

Once developed, this site will be the fifth industrial site in the Tri-Cities to officially be certified by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, which means the site has been fully mapped and analyzed with utility infrastructure ready to go.

The Bristol Business Park currently lists an 82-acre “Select Tennessee Certified Site,” while the Washington County Industrial Park has two parcels, one 67 acres and the other 21 acres. Twenty-seven acres of the 127-acre Aerospace Park is also listed as being certified by the state.

“To accomodate a 450,000 square-foot building, that’s a great thing because the only other site that comes close to being a comparable site in our region is the Washington County Industrial Park,” Miller said.

“Having two options when you’re going out buying something at the store is a lot better than having one. Having variety, having sites available, that’s going to lure more prospects to take a look.”

To finance the roughly $2 million project, the industrial site received two grants and provided the matching funds for each. The first, received in 2017, was a $500,000 site development grant from the state. The Bristol Business Park was only one of 18 properties in the state to be selected as a recipient of that grant. The additional grant was awarded through TVA’s Invest Prep program.

According to a press release, the grants were secured with the help of Bristol, Tennessee’s economic development staff, BTES and NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership.

“So out of a $2 million project, we got about $850,000 of it in a grant. Then of course, we’ll sell the property which will bring some more money back. Then you’re going to have a significant asset with a building that size. So the property tax and some of the other taxes will offset any other costs,” Anderson said.

“There won’t be anything burdening the taxpayers or ratepayers.”

Anderson said Summers-Taylor is conducting all the grading and site preparation work, which he expects to be completed by the end of the year.

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