By Tamas Mondovics

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) announced last week the five counties chosen to participate in the latest round of the Select Tennessee Property Evaluation Program (PEP), which originates from the department’s Select Tennessee Certified Site Program.
Each round of PEP selection is based on the demonstrated local need for industrial properties and the county’s ability to assemble viable properties with market potential.
The timing of the news could not have been any better for the region, as the momentum in Johnson County and Mountain City is about as noticeable and welcomed as it can get.
“With our industrial park now full, we are in much need of more properties to serve as industrial sites,” said Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor. “Being approved to participate in this round of the PEP will make it possible to fund the cost of evaluating potential in our area.”
Taylor confirmed that he had submitted four pieces of properties (two on Highway 91, North and two on U.S. Route 421 South) that may potentially be suitable for evaluation.
Started in 2015, PEP is designed to improve the inventory of industrial sites and buildings in Tennessee.
“PEP helps local communities attract and grow businesses in Tennessee and creates high-quality jobs in the process,’ said Gov. Bill Lee. Thanks to PEP, we’re identifying even more opportunities for Tennesseans to both build a career and build up local economies in our state.”
TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe agreed when he said, “One of the best things a community can do to promote economic growth is evaluating and improving their sites for market. I congratulate the five communities on being chosen for this round of PEP and look forward to what is in store for them in the future.”
According to officials, the program evaluates potential properties, advising counties on where investment may be most beneficial and how sites can be improved to attract prospective companies. Before this round, 47 counties have participated in PEP.
PEP originates from the department’s Select Tennessee Certified Site Program. With the assistance of site selection firm Austin Consulting, PEP benefits participating counties by providing guidance on site planning for future industrial development projects.
For counties selected to participate, PEP includes an on-site visit by Austin Consulting and TNECD, an educational webinar on the site selection process and a comprehensive assessment addressing the strengths and needs of a community’s inventory of industrial sites. This assessment also offers recommendations for communities to improve marketability.
The application process typically begins with the submission of a letter of intent, which is accepted at any time. Upon receipt of the letter, interested communities will be provided with the PEP application. A new round of communities will be accepted into the program in the fall of 2019.
For more information, please visit, www.tnecd.com. Follow on Twitter and Instagram: @tnecd, facebook.com/tnecd.