Sullivan County commissioners vote in favor of Aerospace Park investment

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SULLIVAN COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Sullivan county leaders took the first steps Wednesday to help develop a site that could bring thousands of jobs to our region.

Aerospace Park is a 160-acre site next to the Tri Cities Airport. It’s a partnership project between the Tri-Cities and Washington and Sullivan counties that could bring up to two thousand jobs to the area.

At a special called meeting Wednesday morning, Sullivan County commissioners gave their stamp of approval, signing off on a more than $2.2 million investment in Aerospace Park.

“It was 18-0. Every person present voted in favor of this,” said Mayor Richard Venable. “It opens the door for our partners – Kingsport, Bristol, Washington County and Johnson City to take this before their boards or commissions and say Sullivan County passed their guarantee, we’re ready to do it now.”

The Tri Cities Airport Authority wants to issue an $8.5 million bond, with the local municipalities each responsible for a portion of the money, to help develop the site.

“Having the site already developed, when you have the manufacturing companies that want to come in, they already have the site there available, and they are more liable to move into the area,” said Commissioner Angie Stanley.

“It’s totally a site that’s dedicated to bringing high tech jobs to the region and to the airport,” said Executive Director of the Airport Authority, Patrick Wilson.

Wilson said on a long term basis that could total up to 2,000 jobs.

“The average aerospace technician makes about 83 percent higher wages than our average regional manufacturing wage,” Wilson said. “That number is around $60,000 for the technician’s position, and that can range all the way up to over $100,000 for engineering positions.”

They are jobs that Mayor Richard Venable says the area has been trying to recruit for years.

“We’ve got Northeast State ready to train these people, and they’re training them today,” said Venable. “We need all kinds of jobs in Sullivan County, but those high paying, highly skilled jobs – we want more of those.”

“It could be a huge investment here that we have not had in a long time here for the economic development,” Stanley said.

So far, between 20 and 30 acres of the site are already graded and ready for business. The Tri Cities Airport Authority has plans to start grading on another 10 acres, next month.Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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