Above: Rendering of completed Aerospace Park courtesy Tri-Cities Airport Authority
By Scott Robertson
Tri-Cities Airport’s Aerospace Park project will receive a $4.1 million grant from the the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s (TDOT) Aeronautics Economic Development Fund.
“We are extraordinarily pleased to receive this grant,” said Jon Smith, chairman of the Tri-Cities Airport Authority (TCAA). “We believe it is a significant step in moving the region forward by attracting jobs and investment from the aerospace industry.”
TDOT posted the six recipients of AED grants this morning.
The grants are designated for projects that impact job creation and capital investment in the aviation industry. The Aerospace Park application stated, “by year five after completion of the site development project, the TCAA has established a benchmark goal of MROs or aircraft manufacturers investing $25 million in facility construction and creating 650 jobs.”
A total of $15 million was made available for the AED program by the Tennessee General Assembly last year. The Aerospace Park grant is the single largest grant issued. Separate from this grant program, Oak Ridge was granted $15 million for construction of a new general aviation airport in 2018.
A portion of the Aerospace Park site has already been graded. The Tri-Cities Airport Authority estimates the cost to have the full 140-acre site ready for occupancy at $17 million. The governments of Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport, along with Sullivan and Washington counties have committed a total of $8.5 million toward development. TVA has also committed $350,000. The Tri-Cities Airport Authority had applied for $8.15 million in AED funding.
“We’re happy to get that assistance and appreciate it,” said Clay Walker, CEO of NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership. “We’re really appreciate it that the (AED) program exists to further legitimize the significance of airports as economic development engines and recognize the economic impact they have around the state. Obviously, this doesn’t get us to where we need to be to have Aerospace Park finished in the manner we’d like it finished but it’s a nice step in the right direction. Four million dollars is certainly a significant amount of money. We’re getting closer and closer. We just need to keep after it.”