Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced on Monday, Dec. 19, that 10 new Site Development Grants (SDG) totaling more than $3.1 million have been awarded to promising business development locations throughout the state. Benton County was at the top of the list.
The grants are designed to help communities invest in infrastructure and engineering improvements to land economic development projects and achieve Select Tennessee site certification. The Benton County Industrial Development Board will receive $100,000 to complete due diligence studies on the Smith Property, a 565-acre property situated between Hwy. 70 West and the Hwy. 70 Bypass in Benton County.
“When we provide rural communities with the tools needed to attract new jobs to our state, more Tennesseans have opportunities to thrive,” said Lee. “I thank our General Assembly members for their partnership in funding 10 additional site development grants and look forward to seeing the economic growth and prosperity that will result from these projects.”
The SDG program, part of the Rural Economic Opportunity Act, works in tandem with TNECD’s Select Tennessee program. Since 2016, TNECD has awarded 143 SDGs across the state, totaling more than $56 million in assistance to local communities and generating nearly 5,600 new jobs for Tennesseans.
“Congratulations to the communities receiving funding through the latest round of the SDG program,” said Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Stuart McWhorter. “Having an inventory of shovel-ready industrial sites is an essential component of the recruiting process, and we stand ready to support these communities as they invest in their infrastructure and advance towards achieving Select Tennessee site certification.”
Applications were reviewed by an advisory committee made up of TNECD, Austin Consulting, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Tennessee Department of Transportation. Each application was supported by the community’s senator and representatives in the Tennessee General Assembly.
“West Tennessee is experiencing a once in a lifetime opportunity with the location of Ford’s Blue Oval City,” said Jennifer Wheatley, economic development director for Benton County. “It is our responsibility to be prepared with industrial sites and the Smith Property is the only parcel of its size and mix of utilities in the Tennessee Valley. This grant funding will allow us to take the first steps toward making it more marketable.”