November 12, 2019


Counties in Tennessee, US, want US$32 million feed mill set up in local communities



Two counties in the Chattanooga region (Tennessee, the United States) and a third just outside it are trying to woo a poultry company's planned US$32 million feed mill -- dubbed "Project Protein" -- to be constructed to serve its operations, Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.


Officials in Bledsoe, Rhea and White counties want to see the proposed facility in their communities and local farmers growing crops to sell in their home county.


Government officials involved have promised not to name the company yet, but an article in the Bledsonian-Banner in Pikeville identified the business as Aviagen Group.


On November 4, Bledsoe County commissioners and the local Industrial Development Board voted unanimously to offer the company reduced property taxes for the first five years in which the company would pay only the school portion of taxes during the period, according to county mayor Gregg Ridley.


Beginning in the sixth year, the company would pay 20% of the full property tax amount, increasing by 20% each year thereafter until reaching 100% of the rate, Ridley said.


Officials offered a 50-acre site off US Highway 127 on land donated to the city of Pikeville by the family of Charles Sheldon, officials said. The city's property lies just outside the city limits in the county.


John Bamber, executive director of the Rhea Economic & Tourism Council in neighboring Rhea County, couldn't be reached for comment on a site in the Spring City Industrial Park that officials there have offered for the feed mill.


Southeast Tennessee Development district executive director Beth Jones said "Project Protein" could be a huge boost for local farmers who can tailor their crops and sell to a major customer in their home county.


"With that facility alone, it's 21 direct jobs in the first phase, but there is a lot of other opportunity relative to that investment," Jones said.


"The even more exciting thing is the fact that they want to buy regionally and locally, so this is going to create new markets for farmers to grow corn and wheat and oats," Jones said. "It's a bio-secure feed mill. My understanding is there are two in the country and this would be the third."


Jones wasn't sure of details in any offers Rhea County officials have made but she noted that many communities have pre-approved incentive plans that can be put on the table by developers during negotiations. All such plans must get final approval by local legislative bodies, she said.


Pikeville is already home to poultry company Hubbard Breeders LLC's regional office, which in 2017 became a subsidiary of Aviagen Group, according to Hubbard's website. Aviagen has operations in the neighboring Cumberland County seat of Crossville, less than 30 miles away.


Pikeville Mayor Phil Cagle said the city is able to provide the required infrastructure and has already offered its part of the proposal to the company. Cagle believes there's a good chance for landing the company.


Landing the feed mill and continued supporting development "could make Bledsoe County the poultry capital of the world," Ridley said.


- Chattanooga Times Free Press