TVA and State Statements Regarding Megasite Funding Participaton

Presentation by Jefferson County EDOC on January 9, 2013 - Staff Photo by Jeff Depew

Presentation by Jefferson County EDOC on January 9, 2013 – Staff Photo by Jeff Depew

Jefferson County Commission recently appropriated $442,311 in initial funding for the certification phase of the proposed East Tennessee Regional Megasite. There has been question of the level of involvement, particularly concerning financing of the project, from the State of Tennessee and Tennessee Valley Authority. Though a TVA spokesman recently stated during an interview that the Jefferson County Megasite is not a TVA project, materials released that include TVA’s name have led to the misassumption that the Jefferson County Megasite has some level of committed financial sponsorship from TVA or the State of Tennessee. The Younger Report, an Economic Impact Study dated January 2013, includes an estimate of Public Funding from Jefferson County to be in the neighborhood of $60 million of the $306.6 million needed for the Megasite project. The remaining funds would be a combination of additional Public Funds provided by TVA and the State of Tennessee, according to the Impact Study. Compounding the confusion regarding TVA participation in the project is the property option contract that appears to be a TVA contract due to their name appearing in small print at the bottom of the contract.

At our request, TVA Public Relations Representative Scott Brooks provided an email statement on behalf of TVA.

TVA Economic Development supports product development with communities in our service area. Jefferson County is in the early stages of pursuing Megasite certification with site selection consultant McCallum Sweeney Consulting. This is to get a large site ready to recruit a major industry for high-paying jobs for the area.

TVA makes a continuous effort to work with local communities and states to find appropriate industrial sites that are ready to market for the TVA region. TVA offers technical and community development services to all communities in our footprint that are actively improving their assets or strengths to enhance their competitiveness for economic opportunities. Our technical services team offers area mapping, site renderings, etc., and these type documents do contain the TVA logo.

TVA is NOT directly involved in the purchase of real estate or the creation of this particular project, beyond the assistance mentioned above.

Scott Brooks
Public Relations
TennesseeValley Authority

Property owners in the footprint of the Megasite have been vocal regarding their confusion about the fine print on the property option contract. Attorney Scott Hurley, who represents 1400 acres in the footprint of the proposed Megasite, responded to TVA’s statement.

“We are very surprised at this statement from TVA which disavows any direct role in the mega site project. First, the real estate contract being presented to land owners by EDOC references TVA and makes it appear to be a TVA endorsed contract. I have no idea why they would do that other than to try to intimidate the landowners. Second, the unsigned draft “Impact Study” by Younger that was released by the EDOC Committee and the Chamber of Commerce said that TVA was a major provider of money for this project. Clearly, based on TVA’s statement tonight that assertion is false. At some point, I would hope that the people of Jefferson can get the real truth about this proposed mega site.”

In an effort to establish the State of Tennessee’s position regarding any financial commitment to the Megasite project, Dave Smith of the Governor’s office was contacted for a statement. Mr. Smith passed the request to the Department of Economic and Community Development and Clint Brewer, Assistant Commissioner, responded with an email statement.

We have met with Jefferson County officials on this project. It is our understanding local government there plans to assemble the land and take the lead on site preparation. State government has not contributed financially to this project, but we applaud their efforts and will remain supportive. When a prospect is identified, the full menu of training and infrastructure incentives will be available.

Clint Brewer

Assistant Commissioner
Communications & Creative Services
Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development

It is noteworthy that infrastructure incentives may cover a variety of line items listed on the Megasite cost projection sheet and are not necessarily confined to tax incentives. Further, it is the opinion of an expert in technology that the fine print on the bottom of the property option contract is, in fact, a file name. No information has been obtained regarding why TVA was a part of the file name or why it was included on the contract.  After viewing the property option contract, TVA representative Brooks stated that it appeared as if one of TVA’s contracts had been modified for use by the property negotiators, though he was unclear as to how the contact was in their possession.

Source: K. Depew, News Director