Sparrow Approved

Loudon commission, council approve Project Sparrow incentives

By Hugh G. Willett

The Loudon County Commission and Loudon City Council on Monday passed separate resolutions supporting incentives for the recruitment of a manufacturing company that could bring 178 new jobs.

The resolutions, which were passed by both bodies unanimously, support "Project Sparrow," the code name for the European manufacturer of commercial and residential construction materials that is considering locating in Loudon following a multistate search.

According to Loudon County Economic Development Agency President Pat Phillips, the company has proposed building a 320,000 square-foot facility and investing approximately $70 million in real and personal property over five years.

"It's a very positive development. It was nice having the unanimous support of both the county and the city of Loudon," Phillips said.

The Knoxville Chamber was also involved in the recruitment effort. According to Phillips the company met with the Knoxville Chamber to learn more about the region.

The strengths of the region, including programs such as Innovation Valley, a regional economic development partnership, helped the county sell itself, he said.

County commission approved three resolutions including authorizing the sale of approximately 30 acres at a cost of $15,000 per acre in the Sugar Limb Industrial Park. The county would also provide a pad-ready, graded site and parking areas and extend infrastructure to the site.

Commissioner Bob Franke said he believes the investments made by the county will pay off in good paying jobs and other stimulus to local and regional businesses that will supply the manufacturing site.

"They're good jobs. I think the average salary will be about $35,000 per year," he said.

Franke also said the project will build out the industrial park.

Included in the commitments is the construction of an industrial access road leading from Henry Drive and extending south to the site. The county will enter into a contract with the Tennessee Department of Transportation for State Industrial Road Funds estimated at $1.1 million.

The county would also authorize the company to make a payment in lieu of tax (PILOT) of $168,574 per year for 10 years. The payments would cover the debt service on the infrastructure improvements.

A contract with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development will secure $750,000 in Fast Track Infrastructure and training assistance.

The resolutions also include assistance in the acquisition of Economic Development Funds through TDEC to assist the company with specialized foundation and footers for the project.

"Without this kind of help from the state we probably wouldn't be able to attract this project," Franke said.

The resolution approved by the Loudon city council authorized the sale of the property in the industrial park, which is located inside city limits, and participation in the PILOT program.