By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor
SMITHVILLE – DeKalb County is among six counties recently chosen by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) to participate in the latest round of the Select Tennessee Property Evaluation Program (PEP).
Designed to improve the inventory of industrial sites and buildings in Tennessee, PEP helps provide communities the tools to remain competitive in industrial recruitment.
“It allows us to take a fresh look, with some unbiased eyes, and get unbiased feedback on which sites can quickly be ready to accommodate new industrial investment,” DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling explained.
Stribling says only one small space remains vacant in Smithville’s current industrial park and new properties are currently being considered to meet future industrial growth.
“We’re looking at other sites to see if they would be good industrial sites and by the State of Tennessee providing this property evaluation program, it saves counties a lot of dollars,” Stribling said.
He estimates it would cost DeKalb County approximately $15,000 to hire an independent company to perform the work the state’s property evaluation program will provide.
“We’re excited to see what it holds in store for us,” he said. “It’s helpful for our county but also helpful for the Upper Cumberland and, in turn, the state of Tennessee.”
Other counties selected for the program include Cocke, Giles, Lauderdale, Lewis and Tipton.
“Congratulations to the six communities selected to participate in this round of PEP,” TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe said. “PEP has done a fantastic job helping local communities better prepare to attract new and expanding businesses in our state. With the assistance from this program, I’m hopeful that the newest counties participating in PEP will be able to successfully attract companies to their local communities and broaden job opportunities for their residents.”
Since 2015, the program has worked to evaluate potential properties, advising counties on where investment may be most beneficial and how sites can be improved to attract prospective companies. With the assistance of site selection firm Austin Consulting, PEP provides participating communities with guidance and on-site planning for future industrial development projects. PEP originates from the department’s Select Tennessee Certified Site Program.
“The tremendous support by county economic development organizations to be part of TNECD’s PEP is proof that local economic development groups see the value of planning ahead for the next phase of industrial development so Tennessee will continue to lead the country in locating new companies for decades to come,” Frank Spano, managing director of Austin Consulting, said.
PEP selection was based on the demonstrated local need for industrial properties and the county’s ability to assemble viable properties with market potential.
A new round of communities will be accepted in the spring of 2018. For more information, visit www.tnecd.com.