Local lawmakers push for state grant money to help fund Aerospace Park development

SULLIVAN COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Several Northeast Tennessee lawmakers are encouraging the state to help fund Aerospace Park.

Five local representatives met with Governor Bill Haslam and Speaker of the House Beth Harwell Tuesday letting them know how important the Aerospace Park project is to the region.

Representatives Bud Hulsey, Timothy Hill, Matthew Hill, David Hawk and John Crawford were at the meeting, pushing for about $8 million in state grant money that would help further develop the site of Aerospace Park.

“This is probably one of the biggest things that we’ve done since the airport has been built, so it’s very very important,” said Representative Crawford.

It’s that importance Crawford – along with four other local lawmakers – wanted to show the state’s top leaders Tuesday, while asking for about $8.1 million in state grant funds to finish out grading work for Aerospace Park.

“They seem to be willing to work with us to make this happen, so I left there feeling very positive and excited about what this means for our community,” Crawford said.

The 160 acre site next to the Tri-Cities airport will become a home for aerospace industry.

Getting it business-ready has taken big steps forward. Most recently, Sullivan and Washington counties and Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol agreed to back an $8.5 million investment to further develop the land.

“There’s a couple of companies that we currently have continuing dialogue on that they are looking to expand and we’re looking to promote Tri-Cities as a place for them to give serious consideration,” said Executive Director of the Tri-Cities Airport Authority, Patrick Wilson.

Not having the site fully prepped yet, Wilson says, makes it harder for companies to hop on board.

It’s why he says lawmakers’ efforts Tuesday and communicating with Haslam and Harwell are vital.

“I feel like yesterday’s meeting was very important to just stress the fact to the governor that we haven’t forgotten about it and this is a very important project to our community, and we’re willing to work with him and work with the state in what we have to do to receive that funding to move forward to bring the jobs into our community,” Crawford said.

The Aerospace Park project does hope to bring up to 2,000 high paying jobs to the region.

Representative Crawford said Northeast State Community College does have an aerospace program in place to help prepare students to step into some of those jobs.

The Tri-Cities Airport Authority is in the process right now of putting together their application for that state grant. They’re hoping to find out how much money they’ll get – if any – in January.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.


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