A multi-purpose agricultural complex may be on the horizon for East Hamilton County.
Approximately 50 community members met with city and county officials at a recent public meeting hosted by the Bill Hullander family in Apison to gauge interest and discuss possible funding options for the project.
"It was 100 percent positive," said University of Tennessee Extension Office representative Shorty Beaty of the meeting. "We were able to create an official committee made up of community volunteers, city and county officials that is planning to look at where possible funding can come from and what other partners can get involved."
According to Beaty, the ideal complex would include an enclosed arena for animal shows or rodeos and an area for outdoor classrooms. In addition to providing a place for local groups like 4-H, Hamilton County Master Gardener Association and Hamilton County Farm Bureau to host events or showcases, she said the agri-plex also has the potential to become a considerable source of revenue for the city and county.
Roane State Community College in Harriman, Tenn., has a similar facility that Beaty said is booked 12 months out of the year and contributes an estimated $6 million to the local economy. With groups like Santa Gertrudis Breeders Association already holding its international meeting in Chattanooga this spring, she said adding an agri-plex facility where these groups could potentially showcase or sell animals would be a huge asset to the area.
"We've already got the hotels and interstate systems in place, so the economic impact would be fantastic," she said. "At the meeting we talked to some people from North Georgia who are used to regularly driving 13 hours to Oklahoma for these types of shows."
Beaty said the group also anticipates the complex could be a great place for high school graduations or community meetings.
"The sky is the limit with this thing," she said. "It could bring so much to our community and so much attention to the Chattanooga area."
The group would like to build the facility somewhere in the 1-75 or Enterprise South area, but no land purchases have been made yet, Beaty said. The group is still working to develop a concrete plan moving forward.
"We're trying not to limit ourselves with a strict timeline," she said. "We feel like we need to take our time and continue putting ourselves out there to get more input from the community as we move forward."
For more information, visit www.facebookcom/friendsoftheagriplex or call 894-1687.