Leaders say the economic downturn slowed down Pellissippi Park plans

6:45 PM, Aug 11, 2010   |    comments
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Leaders say the economic downturn slowed down Pellissippi Park plans

Leaders attribute a tough economic climate and the credit crunch as two reasons why after four years, the first phase of the Pellissippi Place technology park is only now seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

"We've always said this project is a 50-year build project; so it's a generational project," said Blount County Economic Development Board interim CEO, Bryan Daniels. "There's no way to anticipate the economic climate for the bond market and loans."

It's been about four years since crews broke ground on the 450-acre land and about a decade since the leaders first talked about the project.

"If you look in our region, we have three technology parks that are geared toward technology entrepreneurship," said Daniels.

Governments in Maryville, Alcoa, Blount and Knox Counties each invested $5 million for the park. However, outgoing Knox County commissioner Bud Armstrong said he's concerned about the investment because he's not sure about what type of economic impact the park will bring.

"I think in this depressed economy in this point in time, we have plenty of land that we can sell, if you can find a buyer," said Commissioner Armstrong. "So to spend more money on more land is unnecessary."

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale's office disagrees with that statement. Mike Arms said because of the imulti-million dollar investment, the county will get a return in profits.

"We had some special legislation passed in Nashville that allowed a county to collect property taxes in another county," said Arms.

The first phase of the project is currently testing utilities on the land. Daniels said a ribbon cutting on the first phase will be on August 31.

Maryville-based Molecular Pathology Laboratory Network, incorporated has shown interest with the park for years. A spokesperson said despite the longer-than-expected timeframe for the project, they're still planning on moving into Pellissippi Place at a future date.

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