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County moves forward with proposed Meat Processing Facility project

By Jinifer Rae

Freelance Writer

Plans for a new meat processing facility have moved even closer to fruition. During Thursday night’s meeting, the county approved moving forward with logistics. The commission approved an architectural contract with Shaw & Shanks Architects. 

The new facility will partner with the Johnson County Schools Career and Technical Education (CTE ) program and, according to county officials, will allow “the school system to use as a teaching environment.” 

The benefits are endless for Johnson County students who will have the opportunity to learn the skills and receive hands-on training to learn the meat processing trade. 

“Any opportunity that allows our students to succeed, we are on board with,” said Dr. Mischelle Simcox, Director of Johnson County Schools.

The new facility will receive funding partially from several grants; the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant, American Rescue Plan (ARP), and the Three Star Grant. 

“In July, Johnson County was awarded $406,000 from ARC grant,” said Russell Robinson, Director of Accounts and Budgets. The ARC or Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and thirteen state governments across the Appalachian Region. 

According to its website, the ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest in building community capacity and strengthening economic growth.

In addition to the ARC grant, Johnson County “received $184,000 from government ARP funds,” said Robinson. The American Rescue Plan was devised under the Biden administration to help communities regrow after the Covid-19 pandemic. Congress approved the ARP act allotting $1.9 trillion in relief to hard-hit areas of the nation. 

Johnson County received $50,000 from ThreeStar Grant; this program was
developed to help communities prepare for a better
future. The monies received were set aside to buy
equipment for the new processing facility. The equipment has been purchased and is currently being stored, waiting on the facility’s
opening.

The exact opening date is not yet confirmed, but hopes are high that construction will begin as early as the first of next year. “Potentially opening early 2024,” Robinson said. 

The property where the facility will be built is adjacent to the industrial park. The county owns several acres and will retain ownership of the facility. 

For more information www.tn.gov www.arc.gov.