Chester County – Property Evaluation Program

Henderson, Tennessee

Chester County and the county seat of Henderson are located 18 miles southeast of Jackson and I-40 in Southwest Tennessee. In addition to its being about halfway between Memphis and Nashville, the county has good transportation access with state routes 45 and 100 crossing in its center in Henderson. This central location provides residents and businesses proximity to employment options and services available in adjoining counties as well as both large cities and their rapidly growing regions.  

Chester County is rural and smaller than most counties in Tennessee. The 2016 census estimates the total population at 17,453 which is a bit higher than the 2010 total. Population growth is an indicator of community vitality resulting from successful economic, community and downtown development efforts that have been underway during the last decade.

During the county’s 2017 TNECD-sponsored asset-based plan development, the need for quality industrial sites to attract industry was determined as the most critical priority for the community yet determining the most suitable properties was a challenge. Chester County is part of four different watersheds, and most of Chester County’s wetlands and floodplains are located in flatter, lower elevations that surround Henderson. The majority of Henderson is a mix of flat and hilly terrain that sits well above the 100-year floodplain. All of these land characteristics affect site development decisions.

In light of the landscape considerations, several properties in Henderson had been determined to have promise for future industrial site development by community leaders. When the opportunity arose, the Henderson-Chester County Chamber of Commerce applied for and was selected to participate in the TNECD Select Tennessee Property Evaluation Program (PEP) to support local decision-making and future investments in properties most suited for industrial site development.     

Property Evaluation Program

PEP was created by TNECD to expand the state’s inventory of industrial sites and existing industrial buildings. The evaluation process, conducted by Austin Consulting, provides guidance to a community so that local resources and economic development efforts can be focused on properties that have the greatest potential for industrial development. It is also intended to identify property shortcomings or issues that need to be addressed to prepare industrial properties.  

The Chester County PEP process focused on six properties identified by city and county leaders. Austin consultants completed a detailed evaluation of the properties located in three different areas of Henderson. During their time in the community, Austin also evaluated manufacturing sectors that were a fit for the size of the county’s workforce and location.

Additionally during the visit, meetings were held with local officials, economic development representatives, utility providers, community planning and zoning representatives and other local leaders important to the economic development process. This benefit of PEP provided local officials and economic development leaders the opportunity for in-depth learning and experience with site selection methods. At the end of this process, Henderson and Chester County leaders reported that PEP technical assistance and education created local awareness and commitment that led the city of Henderson to use TNECD Site Development Grant funding for recommended industrial site preparations. Henderson-Chester County of Commerce staff also reported that the PEP process helped them realize what types and sizes of companies the community was best positioned to attract. Recommended targeted sectors included small- to medium-sized manufacturers in the metal fabrication and automotive components industries.  

Short-term strategic development strategies were offered for three small sites located within the remaining acreage of the Henderson Industrial Park. This city-owned industrial property offered several advantages that included its location on U.S. Highway 45 approximately 1.5 miles northwest of downtown and adequate infrastructure in place. Several industries have developed in the park over the last few decades leaving the 80 remaining acres in the park as the most challenging for development. Despite having an abundance of land, the site’s challenging topography, blue-line streams, and a power easement limited the feasible acreage for one large pad. However, the remaining property presented the opportunity to utilize the acreage to designate three smaller pads for grading. Despite the challenges of this property, the city’s ownership, its frontage on U.S. Highway 45 and existing utility infrastructure dictated that the city do the necessary due diligence to understand what can feasibly be developed. From there, community leadership would also be positioned to branch out and explore other properties for long-term development.

Based upon PEP recommendations, the community received two TNECD Site Development Grants to prepare for development of the remaining portions of the Henderson Industrial Park property. In 2018, the city received a grant for due diligence studies to produce a geotechnical report that included soil borings. This was the first and most important step in understanding what could be graded. In 2019, a second Site Development Grant was awarded for grading of the site best positioned for short-term investment. As manufacturing locations occur, the city plans to take advantage of additional Select Tennessee resources to develop the additional two building sites identified in PEP report.

Chester County and Henderson leaders also plan to take advantage of Select Tennessee resources to develop plans for a long-term priority property with over 150 acres suitable for development that was vetted by Austin Consulting. Long-term strategic development strategies were offered for this property that would take more time and financial resources to develop.

Marketing Assistance

As site development activities were underway, the Henderson-Chester County Chamber of Commerce was selected to participate in the TNECD Marketing Assistance Program (MAP) to prepare new marketing resources for their county. MAP supports local economic development efforts by providing promotional videos, custom photography, and a pitch presentation template for each county. In 2018, this technical assistance came at just the right time to equip Chester County economic development leaders with new industrial site marketing resources to leverage Select Tennessee and city of Henderson investments.

ThreeStar Investments

The Henderson City Park is located adjacent to the industrial park where several current manufacturers and the PEP-reviewed sites are located. This proximity allowed economic development officials to utilize TNECD ThreeStar grant funds to add health and wellness components to the park. In 2018, ThreeStar grant funding was awarded to create a walking track and add outdoor fitness equipment in the city park that serves employees of nearby industries as well as residents.  

Community and Economic Impact

Chester County and Henderson leaders have made significant progress in a two-year period to prepare the first of three new industrial sites identified for short-term strategic site development. The first site will be available in 2019 for immediate manufacturing location opportunities with lowered time and risk for manufacturers. Chamber of Commerce leaders have also successfully utilized TNECD marketing assistance to create new resources to promote the community and ThreeStar funding to install health and wellness resources for the community and the nearby workforce. Improvements completed to date include:

Sites with Due Diligence Completed (At Henderson Industrial Park) 3
Sites Graded 1
Marketing Materials Prepared (ECD website, promotional video, photography images) 3
Health and Wellness Improvements Installed (walking trail, outdoor fitness equipment, disc golf course) 3
Industrial Location Inquiries Received 2

Project Funding

TNECD PEP Investment (analysis, site visit, report preparation)  $16,500
TNECD Site Development Grant (core drilling, site surveys) $70,000
City of Henderson MATCH  $7,000
TNECD Site Development Grant (site grading) $490,000
City of Henderson MATCH  $49,000
TNECD Marketing Assistance Grant (website, video, photography) $18,385
TNECD ThreeStar Grant (walking trail, fitness equipment) $15,000
TOTAL INDUSTRIAL SITE DEVELOPMENT, MARKETING, HEALTH FUNDING (Projections for state grants and local funding) $665,885

Project Leadership and Partners

Henderson/Chester County Chamber of Commerce – Executive Director – Project Contact
City of Henderson
Chester County
Southwest Tennessee Development District
Henderson Parks and Recreation
Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

For project contact and more information visit the Henderson/Chester County Chamber of Commerce.

TNECD Select Tennessee

Manufacturing is one of the most significant economic drivers in Tennessee. The Select Tennessee  program assists communities in preparing sites for investment and job creation offering reduced risk and shortened timelines for development. Through the Site Certification Program, the Property Evaluation Program (PEP) and the Site Development Grant program, communities have several opportunities to receive feedback on their sites, obtain funding for site improvements, and increase opportunities for marketing. TNECD Select Tennessee program services are provided through the Governor’s Rural Task Force and Tennessee Rural Economic Opportunity Acts.


TNECD Marketing Assistance Program

Corporate decision makers and site selectors consider video compelling marketing material during their site selection process. To meet this growing trend, TNECD’s Marketing Assistance Program supports economic development efforts for Tennessee counties by providing four promotional videos, custom photography and a pitch presentation template. The promotional videos consist of one anthem video and three testimonial videos that feature success stories in rural development, workforce development and existing businesses. 

TNECD ThreeStar

ThreeStar is a strategic community development program to assist communities in preparing for a better future. The ThreeStar program now incorporates asset-based planning initiatives and a two-year timeline to accomplish goals. The asset-based planning component helps communities develop programs and projects to maximize their local assets to drive economic development. Grants are available to counties to align with one of the community’s identified asset-based goals.

For more information visit TNECD Community and Rural Development