General Assembly approves Megasite bill to enhance prospects of bringing new industry and jobs to West Tennessee

April 27, 2009

General Assembly approves Megasite bill to enhance
prospects of bringing new industry and jobs to West Tennessee

(NASHVILLE, TN), April 27, 2009 — Legislation that enhances the prospects of bringing new industry to West Tennessee is on its way to the governor after approval in the House of Representatives today.  The bill is the result of a team effort of West Tennessee legislators to bring new jobs to the area.

“The stage is set for success in West Tennessee after passage of this bill,” said Senator Dolores Gresham, a co-sponsor of the bill.  Gresham represents Haywood County where the site is located.  “This has truly been a team effort.  All of our West Tennessee delegation has been pushing for passage of this measure.”

“West Tennesseans have always been hard workers, and the state stands to benefit much from this project,” said House Deputy Speaker Steve McDaniel (R-Lexington). “It was an honor to work with my colleagues to see passage of this bill.”

The bill, SB 653, is sponsored by Senator Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) and Representative Jim Hackworth (D- Clinton).  It makes numerous changes to the Tennessee Regional Megasite Authority Act of 2007, including the ability for authorities to purchase nearby property to be included in the megasite zone. This provision means a Megasite authority could purchase land for critical infrastructure needs, like a highway ramp or rail spurs in non-contiguous acreage.  Currently, additional property within the megasite zone must be contiguous.  The legislation also deals with the make-up of the megasite authority, making it much like a local industrial development board to enhance success of the project

“As a life-long resident of West Tennessee, I am very supportive of this West Tennessee megasite moving forward. Also, as a co-sponsor of this bill, I fully support the funding of this important legislation because it will create many jobs for West Tennessee residents,” said Representative Jimmy Eldridge (R-Jackson).

“As we struggle through this economic downturn, this bill will increase the opportunity West Tennessee has to provide jobs to citizens who desperately need them right now,” said Representative Barret Rich (R-Somerville), one of the co-sponsors of the legislation. “I want to thank the rest of the West Tennessee delegation for working hard on this team effort to provide hardworking West Tennessee residents with opportunity.”

The legislation is in addition to the proposed allocation of more than $27 million in bonds slated for the project in the 2009-10 budget to allow authorities to buy land for the Haywood County megasite.  Legislators are hopeful that the measure will have the same impact on the area as the megasites in Clarksville and Chattanooga, where similar projects have landed more than $3 billion dollars in new investments from Volkswagen Group of America, Hemlock Semiconductor and Wacker Chemical, creating more than 3,000 new jobs.

 “The West Tennessee megasite is the No. 1 major industrial development site in the state,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), who is co-sponsoring the bill.    “It will have a great deal of impact on the future of our region.”

 “We have seen the kind of prosperity that megasite projects can have on a geographical area,” added Representative Curtis Halford (R-Dyer), who is also a co-sponsor of the bill.
“Other parts of the state have been able to lure jobs into the area this way, and I look forward to West Tennessee benefitting from the same kind of economic opportunity.”


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