Crews are expected to start construction on the new Food City in Erwin in September with hopes of opening in March or April.
The 43,000 square-foot grocery store will be built off I-26 and Second Avenue, behind the Bojangles and Taco Bell. Food City President & CEO Steve Smith said the $11.5 million project will have a gas station and 7,500 square-feet for six retail stores. Food City will also install sidewalks and street lighting in the area. Smith the entire project will create about 150 new jobs in the county.
“We’re really excited about that,” Smith said about expanding into the county. “There’s a lot of things going on in Erwin right now with the new hospital going up and downtown looking good. We’ve looked at Unicoi County for years and we just thought it was the right time with all of the activity.”
Tyler Engle with the Unicoi County Economic and Community Development Board said a traffic light will be installed on Second Avenue in anticipation of the additional traffic in the area. “I think that Food City will have a positive impact,” Engle said. “I think more than anything it will have a quality of life impact. Anytime you add retail to the economy it’s a great thing.”
Engle said the board is also working on bringing in other new businesses too. “We’re also grading off a large industrial site on that street that could employ up to 250 people. What it’s going to be is a pad-ready site which in property development is the end all be all. So that will be 150-thousand square feet that will be ready to go for an industrial user.”
Engle said the county is looking to see what companies they can attract and said chemical manufacturing is typically strong in the region.