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How Is Rural Tennessee Landing Big Projects?

Successful program offers ready-to-go sites that allow companies to easily relocate to Tennessee.

By Lindsey Hyde on July 26, 2022

The nearly 350-acre Lake County Industrial Site offers access to Port of Cates Landing in Tennessee.
Wendy Whittemore

Over the last decade, many of the rural communities in Tennessee have seen a great deal of success, as companies from all over the world have located or expanded in their town, adding jobs and strengthening their economies.

In late 2021, for example, Canada-based Sinova Global announced its plans to invest $150 million to establish manufacturing operations in Tiptonville, a town with a population below 4,000.

The company, which supplies high-purity quartz and silicon metal products that are vital to the production of electric vehicles, computer chips and photo voltaic solar cells, will build the facility on the Lake County Industrial Site, a nearly 350-acre space that offers access to Port of Cates Landing, a multimodal inland port on the Mississippi River.

“We have ambitious plans and are excited to be creating 140 jobs in the community as we manufacture an element that is essential for the clean energy transition,” says Jayson Tymko, the company’s president and CEO.

Certified Sites in Tennessee

How are towns like Tiptonville landing such impressive projects?

With the help of Gov. Bill Lee and the State of Tennessee, they are supplying attractive Select Tennessee Certified Sites that are not only piquing the interest of companies, but enticing them to relocate to or expand their business on those pieces of land.

The key here is the site certification, as it tells companies and site selectors that the land has been thoroughly vetted to ensure it meets certain environmental standards, offers truck-quality road access and a host of other important criteria.

Landing in Tennessee

Between 2013 and 2021, 24 projects have landed on Tennessee Certified Sites, generating 7,494 new jobs and over $2 billion in capital investment.

“Site selection, in general, is all about reducing risk and reducing time and reducing cost,” says Kirby Lewis, site development director for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD).

“Everybody has got a piece of ground. Every county has something that they could stick a factory on, and so the importance just really ratchets up when you become a Select Tennessee Site,” says Denny Johnson, mayor of Lake County.

Suite of Successful Programs

The TNECD uses a suite of programs to assist communities in establishing certified sites. These include:

  • The Select Tennessee Property Evaluation Program, which focuses on evaluating a community’s existing properties under consideration for development.
  • The Site Development Grant Program, in which communities can apply for grants to help improve their sites or achieve certification.
  • The Select Tennessee Certified Sites Program, which helps communities ensure that their sites meet certain high-quality standards and are ready for development.

Communities can participate in all the programs, or just one or two, depending on their needs. For example, Tiptonville’s Lake County Industrial Site became a Tennessee Certified Site in 2013, but it was also awarded a $500,000 Site Development Grant in 2016 to put toward the construction of wastewater lagoon improvements, among other things.

Its site certification, along with the grant and additional support it has received from the state and other agencies, helped make it the perfect place for Sinova Global.

“We’ve received enormous support from all levels of government in Tennessee – from the governor down to the local mayor,” Tymko says. “That backing, combined with Tennessee’s attractive business environment, integrated supply chain, skilled workforce and supportive regulation, meant that Tiptonville was the ideal location for our new, state-of-the-art silicon metal plant.”

Relocations Cause Chain Reaction

When major companies like Sinova Global relocate to an area, a positive chain reaction occurs. For example, while Sinova’s new facility will create jobs and revenue for the community, Johnson notes that he and his team are already scouting locations for industries that will tie to the company.

They are also working with a technical college in Dyer County to add a satellite school in the area that would help train the next generation of talent.

Additionally, the property tax revenue from Sinova Global and a soon-to-be solar farm will help provide the area with the necessary funds to build a new high school. “It’s going to be magical,” Johnson says.

Looking for Land?

From Bolivar to Milan to Pulaski to Tiptonville, companies looking to expand or relocate to Tennessee don’t need to physically travel the state looking for available sites. The Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development has set up a convenient online directory of ready-to-go industrial sites. Searchable information includes the location, acreage, level of certification, sale price and a yes-or-no option to leasing.

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