Prison project resumes in Trousdale County

HARTSVILLE – Construction of a 2,500-bed prison in Trousdale County is back on track following a multi-year delay in light of the recession.

Two major contracts were approved in recent months by the Trousdale County Commission that served as the final puzzle pieces for the project to begin. In 2008, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company in the country, announced its original plans for the facility. But in 2009, construction was postponed due to the economic downturn.

The prison will be built in the center of the PowerCom Industrial Center, located off Highway 25 in Hartsville – the site of a mothballed Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) nuclear power plant. PowerCom is overseen by the Four Lake Industrial Development Authority, which promotes commerce in five counties, Macon, Trousdale, Sumner, Smith and Wilson. While the prison will likely have the greatest economic impact on Trousdale – namely through property taxes and jobs – it’s expected Macon and Smith counties – even DeKalb – in the Upper Cumberland will also see results.

“It will have a regional impact,” said Charly Lyons, executive director of Four Lake. “Probably more so on the three-county region of Smith, Macon and Trousdale. But we do expect people to commute from Sumner and Wilson and possibly DeKalb to work at the prison as well as small business in that region which will have opportunity to do business with CCA. Anywhere from service industry, food and beverage type suppliers, uniform or clothing suppliers, to medical. They will have health care onsite, so there will be opportunities there.”

Currently, JE Dunn Construction, which has been selected as the general contractor, is constructing its office at the PowerCom site. Lyons said the firm will be holding job fairs in the coming weeks to select subcontractors and more.

“We expect over 125 jobs associated with construction,” he added.

When complete, the prison is expected to create nearly 400 new jobs, more than previous estimates. Jobs will include correctional officers and wardens, doctors, nurses, administrative clerks, maintenance workers, teachers, counselors and more.

CCA officials estimate construction will take 16-18 months to complete, meaning the facility should be finished toward the latter part of 2015. The facility would likely open at the end of that year.

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