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And the Aerospace Park contract goes to ...

Hank Hayes • Aug 24, 2018 at 8:30 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Airport Authority commissioners awarded a $10.6 million construction contract Thursday to Elizabethton-based Summers-Taylor for Aerospace Park site development at Tri-Cities Airport.

“Our bids came in very favorably,” Airport Executive Director Patrick Wilson told commissioners.

A Oct. 4 groundbreaking has been scheduled to get the project rolling.

Project manager Jeff Reilly said about 1.4 million yards of material will be moved. The storm drainage equipment itself is worth about a million dollars, he added.

The background: On the Tri-Cities Airport’s southside airfield, the plan is to develop a “build-ready” site for a future “maintenance, repair or overhaul” facility or other aviation-related industry on approximately 160 acres. Airport officials expect Aerospace Park could attract up to 2,000 aviation-related jobs.

What’s been happening: The Airport Authority and the airport’s former owners — Bristol, Kingsport, Johnson City, and Sullivan and Washington counties — signed an agreement backing bonds to pay for the job. To date, airport officials say more than $23 million has been invested in infrastructure serving the total 160-acre area including grading a portion of the site, constructing an industrial access road and installing utilities. Twenty-one acres are certified through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TDECD) as a Select Tennessee Site. About 30 acres are ready to build on now, with more than 100 acres expected to be ready by the end of 2020.

Besides the bonds, how is the airport paying for this?

The bonds are worth $8.5 million. The airport got a TVA grant of $350,000 and a TDECD grant of $500,000. The Tennessee Department of Transportation’s grant funds total $4.1 million. The airport is expected to retain about $1.4 million of the bond funds for possible future matches to grant funding. Airport Authority commissioners also approved a contract worth about $660,500 for Atkins Global to oversee the project.

What’s next?

The airport continues to market Aerospace Park at trade shows. NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership is working with the airport.

In other business, the airport recognized Jim Rector, former mayor of Bristol, Va., who had served as Airport Authority chairman.

“Jim we’re going to miss you,” said Commissioner Dan Mahoney of Johnson City. “We’ve had a good run together and you’ve represented Bristol, Va., very well.”

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