By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) has announced that White County was one of four counties selected to participate in the latest round of the Select Tennessee Property Evaluation Program (PEP).
The other counties include Morgan, Robertson and Rutherford.
“I’m pleased to announce Morgan, Robertson, Rutherford and White counties will take part in PEP, which has helped numerous communities identify opportunities for site development,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “This program puts our state in a position to attract quality jobs and improve our overall economic growth potential.”
This round brings the total number of counties that have participated in PEP to 50. Since its inception in 2015, PEP has helped improve the inventory of industrial sites and buildings across the state. The program evaluates potential industrial properties, advising counties on industrial site improvements and where investments may be most beneficial.
PEP originated from TNECD’s Select Tennessee Certified Site Program. With assistance of site selection firm Austin Consulting, PEP provides participating counties with guidance on site planning for future industrial development projects.
“The Property Evaluation Program serves as a strategic planning session to assess a county’s inventory of industrial sites and buildings,” said Jonathan Gemmen, director of Austin Consulting. “Counties who have participated in this program have a much more cohesive strategy for improving properties as they work to attract capital investment and jobs.”
PEP includes an on-site visit by Austin Consulting and TNECD, an educational webinar on the site selection process and a comprehensive assessment of the strengths and needs of each community’s inventory of industrial sites. This assessment also offers recommendations to improve marketability.
“Not only are they going to help us identify current properties, but we’ll learn and better understand how to be able to identify properties ourselves without assistance from others,” said White County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson. “We hope to be able to identify and acquire property for future industrial development. We have nothing really left to market.”
The four counties were selected based on the demonstrated local need for industrial properties and the county’s ability to assemble properties with viable market potential. The application process begins with a submission of a letter of intent, which is accepted at any time. Upon receipt of the letter, interested communities will receive the PEP application. A new round of communities will be accepted into the program in the spring of 2020. For more details on PEP, click here.
“In order for Tennessee communities to recruit industry or support existing business growth, it is crucial that they have shovel-ready sites,”TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe added. “TNECD is focused on strengthening Tennessee’s inventory of industrial sites, and PEP is perfectly suited to strengthen what our local communities have to offer.”