Jefferson County leaders announce plans to pursue a megasite. (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)
DANDRIDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Jefferson County leaders have announced plans to seek out a megasite for economic development, a plan that could bring hundreds of jobs to the region.
The East Tennessee Regional Megasite, as it's called, would be built at the intersection of Interstate 40&81. The 1,000 acre tract of land is designed to attract a major automotive manufacturer, associated suppliers and hundreds of high-quality jobs.
Right now the county is in the process of getting the cite megasite certified. A process that's expected to take 8-12 months to complete.
Businesses in Dandridge were buzzing on Wednesday with the news.
Leia Hyder has ran Leia's Wraps Cafe for 2 years. She says if people were able to work where they live, locals would spend more money downtown.
"If they lived here, they'd be more ap to eat here when I'm open," said Hyder. "A lot of people that live here have to work some place else because we don't have all of the job opportunities here."
Hyder attended the economic announcement that in other areas has generated a $5.5 billion impact once up and running.
"We have the resources that are needed to make a megasite success here in Jefferson County," said County Mayor Alan Palmieri during the news conference.
Dandridge Mayor, George Gantte, said "as a father it makes you feel good to know that sometime your children will not have to leave this community to find a job."
Leaders say the Megasite will fill a void in the northeastern part of the state. Other business owners like Rae Hutchens hope so, and that people will use the services offered at home.
"We hope they'll take part in our community taking part in our churches, in our schools and just being apart of the community that they will tend to shop more in the area," said Hutchens. "It's a wonderful place to live and to work, and for people to visit and we just hope more people will come."
Leaders plan an open house next week for property owners near the proposed megasite. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 15, from 5-7pm at the Great Smoky Mountain Expo Center.