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As Bradley County economic recruiters begin marketing their new 330-acre industrial park just off of Exit 20 on Interstate 75, local leaders are already beginning to think about the next publicly owned industrial park they can develop for the county.

The Cleveland-Bradley County Industrial Development Board voted this week to begin exploring locations for another industrial park, which would be the fourth such park developed by the city of Cleveland, Bradley County and Cleveland Utilities to lure new industry to the area.

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The Spring Branch master plan is shown.

Doug Berry, vice president of economic development for the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce, said he began working on assembling what became the new Spring Branch industrial park along APD 40 and Interstate 75 when he first came to Cleveland in 2009. A decade later after convincing the Tennessee Department of Transportation to upgrade the exit and highway and preparing the land and utilities, the new industrial park is ready for tenants to begin moving in this year near what is now known as the Tom Rowland Interchange in honor of Cleveland's former mayor.

"We're marketing that site heavily now, but when you think how long it takes to find, acquire and prepare these type of sites, the IDB board was eager for us to begin that process now for the next industrial park even though we still have all of Spring Branch available," Berry said. "I never stop looking for land and thinking about it, to be honest. I personally think that if a community doesn't have 750 to 1,000 acres of inventory available, then they they probably don't have a big and broad enough variety to chase enough projects."

Bob McIntire, owner of McIntire & Associates Insurance and a member of the Industrial Development Board, said the IDB is trying to prepare for the future.

"It's time to think strategically and identify new properties," he said. "We're not buying anything immediately, but it is time we began looking around at our options."

Local leaders in Cleveland are eager to acquire land along railroad, river or highway routes.

Hamilton County has developed a half dozen publicly owned industrial parks over the past four decades, including one of the biggest in the South at the former Volunteer Army Ammunitions Plant in Tyner that was converted into a 6,700-acre Enterprise South Industrial Park where Volkswagen, Amazon and dozens of other businesses have located.

But VW has claim on much of the remaining land at Enterprise South and only about 40 acres is now readily available there, plus about 65 acres at Hamilton County's Centre South Industrial Park.

The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce is preparing a new strategic plan for economic development, in conjunction with the community's Velocity 2040 initiative for how Chattanooga should grow over the next two decades. Working with Avalanche Consulting to analyze the region's future needs for the next five years, the Chamber's initiative is billed as "Chattanooga Climbs, Advancing Economic Development and Talent Initiatives," and may include recommendations for more publicly owned industrial parks in Hamilton County and more work with counties in the region where bigger sites are still available for major new investments.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

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