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Full funding expected for meat processing plant

By Meg Dickens
Freelance Writer

Johnson County’s plans for a custom meat processing plant seem to be going as well as possible. The county applied for a grant through the Appalachian Regional Commission, and sources say complete funding is very likely.
While nothing is set in stone, the county and related experts have high hopes for the project’s future and designed the layout for the possibility of becoming a USDA-inspected facility later on.
News on the subject came in on March 15, two days before the county commission met.
County Mayor Mike Taylor heard that the project was recommended for complete funding after reviewing the pre-application. Expert Ken Ray, who has worked with the developmental district for 28 years, reportedly told Taylor he had never seen one be recommended that did not receive the entire sum.
Johnson County has asked for $508,000. This grant is a 70-30 match, which means that the county will have to come up with $174,000. Already planning for this, officials set $68,000 aside in the previous budget to go towards the cost.
That leaves $106,000 to allocate, and Taylor says it will come from the second allotment of ARP (American Rescue Plan) funds set to arrive in May.
Other forms of funding have already been secured. For example, the Three Star Grant will help with supplies within the facility, such as saws and bags for the meat.
Officials are also looking into an Ag Enhancement grant to help with outside barricades for the animals.
“I met the Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture down there today with two or three other committee members,” Taylor shared with the commission. “He really likes our business plan, likes the partnership with the schools, likes where it is in relation to the county. He asked us
about outside pens, gates, corrals, that kind of thing. He said for us to put together a proposal for an Ag Enhancement grant, and he’ll help with that.”
The facility will have a partnership with Johnson County Schools. Through this, the school system will share CTE Director Herbie Adams, and students will have access to learning the trade. Taylor reported several retailers have agreed in writing to hire those graduating from the workforce development program, including Food Country, Ingles, and Food City.
Keep an eye out for more news on the future plant, created opportunities, and progress in future editions of The Tomahawk and at the monthly County Commission meetings.
The Johnson County Commission meets on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Johnson County Courthouse. For more information, visit johnsoncountytn.gov.