Local ECD efforts earn state, national attention

by David Morgan, Lawrence County Executive

Lawrence County and the economic development team led by our Chamber of Commerce started 2024 by making state and national headlines.

First, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) announced that 150 acres of industrial property on the east side of Highway 43, across from Team Lawrence Commerce Park, is one of two new Select Tennessee Certified Sites.

Lawrence County Government purchased the property last year at a cost of just $265,000. Grants from the State of Tennessee and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), secured by the Chamber of Commerce, covered the remaining $2.75 million.

These 150 acres were once part of the Murray test base, where the company’s lawnmower models were put through their paces. It is near farm land, but unusual because it is located on a major thoroughfare, with easy access to utilities. Most of the agricultural land in our county offers neither advantage to industry. We will stay on the right side of the agriculture/industry balance.

This new certified site designation makes the property easier to market to prospective industries because it is “shovel-ready” for development. A certified site is at least 20 acres, with documented environmental conditions and geotechnical analysis, existing onsite utilities or a formal plan to extend utilities to the site, and truck-quality road access.

“The program sets rigorous standards to give companies detailed and reliable information during the site selection process,” stated a press release announcing the certification.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) has certified only 75 sites across the state since the program began in 2012. This recent announcement brings Lawrence County’s total to three: our first was Team Lawrence Commerce Park – East, now home to Craig Manufacturing and H & M Bay. The second was Team Lawrence Commerce Park – West, purchased by Magna International last year. County Commissioners sold the 72-acre plot to Magna for $1 per acre.

That project brought us national attention this month from Business Facilities, a publication for corporate site selection and economic development. Partners in the Magna International project – TNECD, Lawrence County Government, the City of Lawrenceburg, Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, and TVA – received the magazine’s 2023 Impact Award for EV Supplier/Manufacturing.

“Business Facilities’ Impact Awards acknowledge relocation and expansion investments that significantly contribute to the development and prosperity of the communities they are a part of,” a press release stated. “TNECD’s collaboration with Magna International stands out as a remarkable example of strategic investment and innovation in the automotive sector.”

Magna International is investing $200 million in Lawrence County, building a 400,000-square foot stamping and assembly plant that will manufacture frames for the Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck. It is expected to employ 250.

I cannot say enough about the great work our Chamber of Commerce does on every front: economic and community development, tourism, and business services. I’m looking forward to making a report about county government at its first “State of the County” event, which will also include information from the school system, our municipalities, business and industry.

The State of the County event takes place January 30 and will be recorded by TN Valley Media Group for later distribution on social media. Please watch our Facebook page and other media outlets for your chance to learn more about all the positive things going on in our community.

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