FedEx Freight may bring $20-per-hour jobs to Sullivan County

J. H. Osborne • May 12, 2008 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — There’s not just one, but two, new FedEx operations set to open soon in Sullivan County, according to discussions among county officials in the last week or so.

The as yet not officially announced FedEx location — for FedEx Freight, and to be located near Tri-Cities Regional Airport — will bring with it jobs with average beginning wages of $20 per hour, Richard Venable told county commissioners last week.

Venable is chief executive officer of NETWORKS – Sullivan Partnership, a joint economic development venture of Sullivan County and its cities.

The Sullivan County Commission is being asked to OK an application for state grant dollars to “fast track” extension of sewer and water to the new FedEx Freight site at Partnership Park One.

The total cost to extend that infrastructure to the building site is estimated at about $1.435 million, according to a resolution under consideration by the County Commission. The state grant being sought would cover $750,000 of that cost, with $490,000 being contributed by the Blountville Utility District, $100,000 being contributed by Johnson City, and $94,000 coming from NETWORKS.

The proposal to seek the grant gained the endorsements of the County Commission’s three primary committees last week.

It will come for a vote by the full commission May 19.

When Venable spoke to county commissioners about the matter twice last week in public meetings, he said he’d rather not name the company pending an official announcement.

Commissioners pointed out the name of the company was in the resolution, which is public.

Later in the week, Jack Lawson, director of economic development for NETWORKS, spoke to commissioners about the proposed fast track grant — and commissioners asked for clarification of where the proposed project is to take place, citing the nearly complete FedEx building visible from Interstate 26 near the Interstate 81 interchange.

That new $8 million facility is at Gateway Commerce Park and expected to employ 80 people for a start.

Lawson explained that’s a FedEx ground operation, while the issue before commissioners now concerns FedEx Freight.

While Venable was mum on naming the business involved, details of a land sale were made public last month.

NETWORKS sold 18 acres in Partnership Park One to an existing industry in Sullivan County.

Last month, Venable said that company will have 80 to 90 existing employees when it opens at the new location, with room for future expansion and the addition of about 45 employees. Construction of the new facility is scheduled for completion in December, and the groundbreaking may be held soon, he said.

A real estate developer representing the company bought the land from NETWORKS for $500,000 on March 28, and the deed was recorded on April 11.

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