By Scott Robertson
The Northeast Tennessee legislative delegation has the chance in the coming weeks to wear the hero’s white hat like never before. If they shepherd through the state budgetary process $4.05 million necessary to completely fund the Aerospace Park project at Tri-Cities Airport, they will finish a job on which many have already cooperated.
Aerospace Park is a business park to adjoin the runway on the far side of Tri-Cities Airport from the passenger terminal. The airport authority hopes to lure aerospace-related industry to that site, bringing hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars of capital investment. The individual city and county governments of Northeast Tennessee have combined to back the project to the tune of $8.5 million. TVA has put in $350,000. The Tennessee Department of Transportation last week announced a $4.1 million grant for the site.
The project will start on time this spring, but whether it will be completed on time depends on getting that last $4.05 million. Small portions of that total can be brought in through other grants, but the quickest way to fund the rest of the work is by getting it included in the state budget this year.
Representatives Crawford, Hawk, Hill (Matthew), Hill (Timothy), Holsclaw, Hulsey and Van Huss, and along with Senators Crowe and Lundberg, issued a joint press release last week with the headline, “Northeast Tennessee Legislative Delegation Secures $4.1 Million Grant for Tri-Cities Aerospace Park.”
With due respect to those gentlemen, and with thanks for the efforts they made to get us to this point, a lot of other people also worked to get those grant funds. The legislators’ true time to shine will come this spring. Only they can work cooperatively with the Haslam administration to bring this project all the way home. We look forward to reading the press release that says, “Northeast Tennessee Legislative Delegation Secures Full Funding for Tri-Cities Aerospace Park.”