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Bid for industrial park prep in, county courts manufacturers

Gary B. Gray • Updated Sep 28, 2016 at 8:09 AM

Washington County has received a low bid for construction of two new pad sites and a new access road at its industrial park in Telford — a task aimed at landing major manufacturers.

County Mayor Dan Eldridge provided information about the bids in a report to county commissioners Monday. Five bids were received, with the low bid coming from Thomas Construction Co.

The $1,571,740 bid bested an offer by Summers-Taylor, which came in at $1,597,300. Baker’s Construction Services ($1,794,279), Vic Davis Construction ($1,987,258) and Baker’s Excavation (2,075,794) rounded out the field.

“It’s huge,” Washington County Economic Development Council Business Development Director Alicia Summers said Tuesday about the construction bid coming in lower than expected. “I think we will start moving dirt within the next few weeks. We first started applying for grants in March 2015, so we’re a year and a half into this.”

In early July, the county’s chances of pulling in manufacturers improved when Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd delivered a $473,405 check for improvements at the park.

That money will be combined with a $350,000 grant from TVA’s InvestPrep program and a $250,000 commitment from the WCEDC to help prepare a roughly 200,000-square-foot portion of the industrial park. TVA also will help the county market the sites.

Eldridge, who was not immediately available Tuesday, said after that check was presented that “without developed sites, all the county had to market was a hay field and a cow pasture.”

In November, county commissioners voted to use more than $1.2 million from the general fund to grade and prepare for construction a 67-acre portion of the 275-acre park in an effort to more quickly snag potential tenants.

The final project cost, including grading, engineering, preparing pads for occupation and permitting, is closer to $1.8 million. But more than $2.2 million has been either earmarked by the county or received from grants and commitments.

In his report to commissioners, Eldridge said all necessary information regarding the project has been submitted to the TDECD for review prior to its release of the funds. Once that review is complete and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation issues required permits, “it is our intent to immediately award the project to the low bidder,” Eldridge stated.

Eldridge said in November the money taken from the general fund for this project would be replaced by dollars from a future bond offering to pay for school and other capital projects. He also said completion could come before the end of the year.

Eldridge has said on numerous occasions companies are seeking to get a return on their investments as soon as they can, and if the county wants to see an increase in employment, investments such as these must be made.

There have been 16 lost opportunities at the industrial park in less than two years, largely due to company officials who didn’t care to wait on the prepping and grading procedural process, according to Eldridge.

Three companies now call the site home: Japanese companies Koyo Corporation and Nakatetsu Machining Technologies — both automotive related, a well as the Swedish company ALO Industries, which manufactures agricultural and farming equipment.

Email Gary Gray at ggray@johnsoncitypress.com. Like Gary B. Gray on Facebook at www.facebook.com/garybgrayjcp. Follow him on Twitter @ggrayjcpress.

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