November 21, 2018
By Marlana Ward
During its October meeting, the County Commission decided to move forward with a low-interest loan from Mountain Electric Cooperative to use towards the future Ag Center project. Count Mayor Mike Taylor explained how this option best suited the county’s needs and gives an opportunity for more properties to be purchased for use as industrial sites to entice new industries to locate in the county. In a recent interview with The Tomahawk, Taylor further explained the decision, while also shared his hopes for growth in Johnson County. Taylor first emphasized that to receive the grants needed to move forward with the Ag Center, the county required to match a certain amount of the funds.
“The cost given to us was $500,000. $200,000 is expected in grants, and Rick Thomason stated there should be another $100,000 in private donations from Farm Bureau and others, which leaves a deficit of $200,000,” Taylor said. “When you get grants, there are matching funds expected.”
The details include the low-interest loan from Mountain Electric is one percent interest over ten years. “I recommended this option so we might have money available for potential industrial sites,” he said.
Taylor also emphasized that future industrial sites are a major need for the county to possess.
“We live in a very competitive world,’ he said, adding, “When businesses first call, they ask ‘What incentives do you have for us to come to your county?’ Taylor was clear of his belief that there is a need to be proactive and have industrial properties available.“A property needs to be easily accessible and have some infrastructure such as water, power, and sewer,” Taylor said, as he explained that for a property to be suitable for industry, there are specific criteria that have to be met.
When asked if any businesses had been in contact and shown interest in locating within the county Taylor said, “I have been in conversations with three small businesses. Again, the first thing they ask is what incentives are available if we come there. They soon tell me we are in competition with North Carolina and South Carolina and they will go with wherever it is the best fit for their venture.”
Taylor is currently working with Don Hurst (Business Development Consultant at the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development) about grants for the future.
“We have been working with the Department of Economic Development, and we have at least four properties they have stated they will look at with us and then look at possible funding options.”
Taylor shared his greatest goal for the County’s future when he said, “Most importantly to me is that Johnson County and our resources are being used in the best interest for all our citizens.”