Distribution center on 'fast track' for Bradley location

Distribution center on 'fast track' for Bradley location

November 24th, 2010 by Randall Higgins in News

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Negotiations to bring a 1 million-square-foot distribution center to Bradley County are nearly complete.

The County Commission placed three resolutions on its Dec. 6 voting agenda - one for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan for the center, one to apply for state grants for fast-track infrastructure development and one to apply for state funds for an access highway to the center.

The FastTrack infrastructure grant includes storm- water drainage, relocation of a portion of a stream and general site grading. Total cost is estimated at $6 million, according to the resolutions offered to the County Commission from the city and county Industrial Development Board and the Economic Development Council.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development has $2.2 million to assist with the infrastructure work and, according to the resolutions, "the company will provide the required matching dollars in order to complete the project.''

No funding figure is mentioned in the resolution that seeks a contract between the county and the Tennessee Department of Transportation for building an access road to the site at Interstate 75 exit 33 and Lauderdale Memorial Highway. The resolution includes turn lanes and a traffic signal that also would aid GE's Eastern Lighting Distribution Center directly across Lauderdale Highway.

The County Commission was told that options on the land already have been taken, so there would be no local costs for the roadwork.

Doug Berry, vice president for economic development with the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, made the resolution requests on behalf of the city and county's Industrial Development Board and Economic Development Council.

"I do not anticipate we will ask for any cash contributions,'' Berry said "to offset any component of this. The right of way is secured that is necessary for the roadway. The only match cost, typically with the industrial highway program, is for right of way.''

Requests for contractor bids have gone out, and bid opening is Dec. 3, officials said.

"You hear the term 'fast track' a lot. This is really 'fast track,'" County Mayor D. Gary Davis said.

The center is reported to be creating 225 full-time jobs and about the same number of seasonal part-time jobs. The company building it has not been named, but commissioners were told the name may be announced by the time they vote Dec. 6.

"We are still in negotiations," Berry said. "The company has requested we maintain confidentiality at this point in time."

For that reason, the resolutions now refer only to the company's project code name, ASAP 2.

"I am hopeful we will conclude negotiations as a community and as a state with the company prior to our Dec. 6 meeting so you will know who the company is," Berry said.

The company's total investment is about $63 million, according to handouts given the commission by the Industrial Development Board, and plans are to begin construction by the end of December with an opening date late next summer.

The payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan would be a 50 percent tax abatement on equipment and property for 10 years.

Industrial Development Board personnel said the company plans a $55 million investment in real property and another $8.1 million in personal property.

The Lighting Distribution Center received a similar tax abatement when it located at exit 33 on Interstate 75 in 2006.

"What I'm hearing is there's no cost to the county," Commissioner Ed Elkins said.

Other economic impacts, according to Berry, include an $8.1 million payroll at the distribution center, which is estimated to generate another $2 million in local retail sales.

Contact Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.