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July 18, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Four area projects secure technical assistance funding under “Opportunity Appalachia” program

“Opportunity Appalachia” has announced the selection of 34 projects to participate in a program to bring jobs, business support, and investment to Central Appalachia, and four of those awards are in the immediate Middle East Tennessee region.

Recipients include the Cherokee Farm Development Corporation, which manages the University of Tennessee Research Park (UTRP), and entities in Madisonville, Morristown and the Roane County portion of Oak Ridge. As described in this February 22 article in, the awards were part of Phase 2 of the program which expanded to include North Carolina and Tennessee.

The dollars awarded will not fund the projects. Instead, “Opportunity Appalachia” will now provide technical assistance to the winning proposals to support the development of investment prospectus, structuring of project financing, market research, operations planning, architectural design, and investor outreach. According to the news release announcing the awards, “Opportunity Appalachia” will convene a highly visible event in early 2023 that will target both local and pre-vetted national investors, as well as federal and state funders.

These local projects that received funding are:

  • UTRP and its Spark Innovation Center will serve the region’s most promising technology-based start-ups by providing affordable access to specialized laboratory space, office space, and open areas to help ensure collaboration. Included will be seven fully equipped wet labs and about 15 office spaces with accompanying meeting, collaboration, and common spaces. Estimated costs total $9-11 million.
  • Ashland Holdings, LLC, Ashland Holdings and DeBord Enterprises Projects of Morristown are planning two complimentary projects with five buildings totaling 38,000 square feet that will restore and revitalize historic downtown Morristown. Plans include mixed use development with 18 residential units and up to 60 hospitality and retail jobs from tenants including an ice cream shop and a music venue. Estimated costs combined for both projects totals $8 million.
  • Zephyr Development Group and Roane Custom Beef and Pork of Oak Ridge are planning construction of a 5,600 square foot custom beef and hog processing plant in Roane County to bring healthy, locally-grown meat to area families addressing food supply-chain challenges. This locally- and veteran-owned facility will receive livestock from about 100 local farmers, butcher and package the meat, then freeze it for customer pickup, and will include production of sausage, curing, smoking, as well as space for local farm products such as eggs, jams, honeys, and other products. Estimated costs total $1 million with the anticipated creation of 11 quality jobs.
  • City of Madisonville is planning redevelopment of the 14,600  square foot historic Kefauver Hotel. The redevelopment and reuse of the hotel property is central to attracting visitors to Downtown Madisonville from the nearby outdoor recreation attractions including Tellico Lake, Cherohala Skyway, and Cherokee National Forest. Estimated costs total $5.8 millionwith anticipated creation of approximately 50 jobs.

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