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Purchasing and Development High on List for EDC
by Ashley Murphy

Friday, April 2, 2010

During the Economic Development meeting on Thursday afternoon, much time was spent reviewing the Bradley County 2009 Three Star Program and Five Year Strategic Economic Development Plan for Bradley County, the City of Cleveland and the City of Charleston. Bradley, Cleveland and Charleston combined (along with donations) are spending nearly $200,000 for the Strategic Growth Plan Study in hopes of bettering the community.

This review was to update any projects currently on the list, or remove completed projects, to prepare the Programs and Plans for 2010. An establishment of such a plan could enable Bradley and Cleveland to receive additional and discounted grants, which is why the government sees this as such a necessary program.

Several of the listed projects have been completed or have began to emerge, such as the new additions to area schools and addition of a new elementary school, Dalton Pike expansion, the establishment of a new airport and the development of the Hiwassee River Industrial Park. Charleston boat dock improvements and the extension of a public sewer system to serve Minnis Road have been completed and removed from the list.

Once reviewed, Doug Berry requested the audience state projects that they believed were important to the community and what they believed should be top priority in Bradley County. As the statements came through, the projects were listed on posterboard for all to see. The list is as follows:

- I-75 and Exit 20
- Identify, Purchase and Develop Industrial Parks
- Incumbent Worker Training for Existing and Emerging Industry
- Identify and Purchase Sites for Schools
- Connect TN Broadband
- Identify Grants for Project Funding
- Building a Civic/Conference Center
- Retail Attraction Program
- Joint City/County Tax Incentives for Vacant Properties (to attract business)
- Strategic Plan for Community
- Career Readiness in Education
- Community Beautification
- County-wide Wastewater Authority

The audience was then asked to vote on their top priorities by placing 5 stickers next the individual projects. Once all votes were tallied the top 5 priorities for the coming year will be:

1. I-75 and Exit 20 Upgrades
2. Identify, Purchase and Develop Industrial Parks
3. Identify and Purchase Sites for Schools
4. Building a Civic and Conference Center
5. Career Readiness in Education

Currently, design and engineering is underway for the Exit 20 plan and Gary Farlow stated that the next step is to establish rights-of-way. Farlow hopes that construction can begin in 18-24 months. Other projects are still pending.

The next meeting of the Economic Development Council will be June 3, 2010 at 4 p.m. at the Chamber of Commerce.