White County – Property Evaluation ProgramSparta, Tennessee
White County and the county seat of Sparta are located 20 miles southeast of I-40 and Cookeville on the Cumberland Plateau. The county has great transportation access with State Route 111 connecting it with I-40 and I-24 and State Routes 55 and 70 passing through the county. White County is located between the Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga metropolitan regions and is approximately one hour and thirty minutes from each of these cities and rapidly growing regions.
White County is rural in nature and one of the five Tier-4 counties in the Upper Cumberland Region. The need to create quality industrial sites to attract industry for job creation is critical for the county and region, yet finding suitable industrial sites within White County is a challenge.
White County had seen successful locations of industries in the northern part of the county on industrial properties adjacent to the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport and leaders knew that new industrial site development in that location held much promise. The County Executive had also identified potential industrial site locations along SR 111 to the south. When the opportunity arose, White County applied and was selected to participate in the Select Tennessee Property Evaluation Program (PEP).
PEP was created for the purpose of expanding 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 business investment. It is also intended to shed light on potential property issues or shortcomings that need to be addressed to prepare existing properties for investment.
Property Evaluation Program Activities
The White County PEP process focused on five properties that county leaders identified. In the spring of 2016, Austin consultants completed a detailed evaluation of the properties. In June of that year, Austin and TNECD representatives completed their PEP visit to White County and completed detailed field investigations for each site. During their time in the community, Austin also evaluated manufacturing sectors that were a fit for the county and region, and they reviewed environmental conditions of each property.
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 added benefit of PEP provided local economic development leaders in-depth learning and experience with site selection processes and perceptions. As the end of this process, the County Executive reported that PEP technical assistance and education sessions created new local awareness and a change in direction in site development actions that led White County to successfully use Asset Enhancement Grant funding for industrial site preparations.
Short-term strategic development strategies were offered for two sites in the northern section of the county that Austin believed could be developed fairly quickly to satisfy an immediate need for sites for companies or site location consultants desiring a central Tennessee location. Long-term strategic development strategies were offered for three properties that would take more time and financial resources to develop.
The northern sites were positioned to maximize the advantage of locations closer to Cookeville in adjacent Putnam County and had utility infrastructure in place or in close proximity. Both of these sites would require minimal site improvements to be market-ready. Based upon PEP recommendations, the County Executive began to actively market both properties through TNECD, MTIDA, TVA and other partners and to identify industrial development incentives for recommended improvements.
In 2017 and 2018, the northern properties obtained commitments for property acquisitions and new industrial locations from Fitzgerald Enterprises, LandMills, and Hörmann, LLC. White County created several partnerships and leveraged funding to support all three projects. First, county leaders committed TNECD Asset Enhancement Grant funding for site surveys and core drilling expenses to complete all necessary site analysis. TDOT provided State Industrial Access Road (SIA) funding for intersection redesign and road improvements. TNECD provided FastTrack Infrastructure Development Program (FIDP) incentives for land purchase and infrastructure improvements for the Hörmann project.
Based upon PEP recommendations, the White County Executive has begun due diligence work on the three sites identified for long-term strategic site development and is working to market the sites. The county plans to take advantage of future Select Tennessee resources to hone plans for long-term priority properties and vet several new northern locations for future site development.
|Total Direct Industrial Investments||$70,000,000|
|Total Number of Committed Jobs||225+|
|TNECD PEP Investment
||$15,500 (analysis, site visit, report preparation)|
|TNECD Asset Enhancement Grant||$45,000 (core drilling, site surveys)|
|TNECD FastTrack Economic Development Grant||$1,100,030 (land purchase)|
|TNECD FastTrack Infrastructure Development Grant||$900,010 (infrastructure)|
|TDOT State Industrial Access Grant||$1,800,000 (intersection redesign, roadway improvements)|
|White County State Industrial Access Match||$150,000 (utility relocation, right of way purchase)|
|Total Industrial Site Development Funding*||$4,010,540|
*Projections for state and federal grants and local funding
Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
Tennessee Department of Transportation
Upper Cumberland Development District
Middle Tennessee Industrial Development Association
Tennessee Valley Authority
The Highlands Initiative
For project contact and more information visit White County Tennessee.
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, funding for site improvements, and increased opportunities for marketing. TNECD Select Tennessee program services are provided through the Governor’s Rural Task Force and Tennessee Rural Economic Opportunity Act of 2016 and 2017.
For more information visit TNECD Community and Rural Development