Erwin attempts to attract more jobs by deconstructing a downtown facility


ERWIN, TN (WJHL)- It’s out with the old and in with the new as the days are now numbered for one industrial facility in downtown Erwin. The town has decided to demolish a roughly half a century old factory. The Tennessee Valley Authority is entering into an agreement with the town of Erwin to deconstruct the old Morgan Insulation building in downtown Erwin.

While county economic development members say the roughly $350,000 project will help attract more employment opportunities, some people tell us that they are worried the investment won’t pay off.

Unicoi County Economic Development Board Executive Director Patricia Oldham said, “One thing that we need to do for Unicoi County, is make sure that they have land that’s ready to develop right away.”

That’s why the town of Erwin is teaming up with the TVA to tear down the facility including its landmark silos. Oldham said, “It’ll be market ready with infrastructure already in place for water, sewer, natural gas, and it has rail available. Plus, it’s only .25 miles from I-26, I mean you can see the interstate from the building. “

Oldham said because this nearly 16-acre property is not ready for new construction, many potential buyers have sought other locations. “They want to know that they have a sure thing and that it is going to work out for them business-wise and it’s not going to cost them more unexpectedly,” she said.

Oldham says getting this property “market ready” will significantly boost the probability of bringing in new industry and more jobs, but Unicoi County property owner Roger Collins said he has mixed feelings about the project.

Collins said, “It’s been an eyesore ever since I’ve lived here and I think it’s probably a good idea but my concern is strictly how it’s being paid for and how we’re going to generate the industry to replace it.”

Oldham said a better offer is not likely to come around as TVA will be paying 70% of the costs to deconstruct the old facility with the town of Erwin paying the remaining 30% of the bill.

Oldham said, “It really takes an investment and it takes making good decisions, getting the infrastructure and sometimes making subsequent investments, which they have done. They have really stepped up to the plate.”

Collins said, “my hope is that they are right and that tearing it down will open up that space and generate jobs and business for the city and the county.”

Oldham said the Unicoi County Economic Development Board hopes the property will be market ready before the spring of 2018. In the meantime, they will continue marketing the property in the hopes of attracting a good buyer.Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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