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February 21, 2013 | Tom Ballard

ProNova to bring 500 jobs, $52 million investment to Pellissippi Place

Patience and adherence to the initial vision have paid off for the four local governments that invested in the creation of Pellissippi Place technology research and development park. ProNova Solutions announced on Thursday that the company will become the anchor tenant, invest $52 million, and create 500 new jobs.

Here’s the official release from the Blount Chamber.

Maryville, Tenn. – The Blount Partnership, Knox County, Innovation Valley, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with officials from ProNova Solutions, today announced the company has agreed to become the anchor tenant at the Pellissippi Place technology research and development park on the Oak Ridge Corridor located at the end of the Pellissippi Parkway in Alcoa, Tenn. The announcement represents an investment of $52 million and the creation of 500 new positions in Blount County.

“This is an important milestone for ProNova Solutions that signifies not only the next step in the advancement of proton technology, but it’s also an important investment in the Blount County community,” said Dr. Terry Douglass, Chairman of ProNova Solutions. “With the Provision Center for Proton Therapy located in Knoxville and now the ProNova site in Alcoa, this is truly a regional effort and one we hope will benefit not only the citizens of East Tennessee, but that it will bring the next innovation in cancer treatment to patients and physicians across the globe.”

“I want to thank ProNova for their investment in Blount County that will not only benefit our citizens and economy but cancer patients and physicians worldwide,” Haslam said. “Our Jobs4TN strategy includes leveraging our state’s unique assets, such as those in research and development, and the remarkable technology companies like ProNova are creating will help us toward our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“Our state has a rich history of entrepreneurial success stories, and entrepreneurship and innovation can drive economic growth and create job opportunities for our citizens,” Hagerty said. “Tennessee is a top 10 state when it comes to research and development expenditures, and we are focused on leveraging our state’s extraordinary R&D assets, commercializing new technologies and growing innovative companies right here in the Volunteer State.”

ProNova, which intends to commercialize a next-generation, compact proton therapy system as part of the latest in cancer treatment technology, is slated to construct two facilities on 26 acres on the West side of the property to house its corporate headquarters along with a research and commercialization laboratory.

“The announcement made today is a wonderful event for Blount County and the entire East Tennessee area,” said Sen. Doug Overbey. “We welcome ProNova to our community and know that the technologies and jobs it is bringing will be great benefit to our citizens and Tennessee. I applaud the efforts of all who have made this possible – our state and local officials, the leadership of the Blount Partnership and ProNova for selecting Blount County for its new facility.”

“This collective effort from many different entities really shows how far we’ve come to realize that an investment like this benefits the area as whole and not just one town, community or county,” said Chuck Alexander chair of Blount Partnership Economic Development Board. “ProNova’s project is more than double the capital investment than Blount County, Knox County, Alcoa, Maryville and the Blount Partnership have made in the park. Thank you to Pronova for sharing in our vision of building a technology community.

“This now pushes our total to 2,325 jobs that have been created and $167 million in capital investment over the past two and a half years.”

Its product strategy is to develop, produce and deliver a smaller, lighter and more energy efficient proton therapy system.

“To have a company put this kind of investment and add so many well-paying jobs to the economy speaks volumes as to the assets of having not only a place to build the facilities, but a location that benefits the region as a whole,” said Alcoa city Mayor Don Mull. “ProNova’s reputation as a solid company with a vision for the future gives me the confidence they will be here for many generations to come.”

The company intends to construct this project in two phases. The first being a 30,000 square foot two-story office and research building with a 40,000 square foot assembly and test area initially supporting 35 employees, growing to 110 by 2015.

Phase two adds an additional 120,000 square foot two-story structure with more gantry and cyclotron testing and assembly areas (40,000 square feet) with a projected staff of 110 in 2015 and expanding to a cumulative total of 500 by 2018.

A total of nearly 200,000 square feet will be used upon completion of both phases, including 130,000feet of office space and 60,000 feet of commercialization and research space.

“This is a huge shot in arm and a boost to the local economy that hasn’t been seen in a long time,” said Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell. “This type of investment really shows how much confidence ProNova has in the workforce of this area and the quality of the life that the region offers.”

“In the past, Knox County invested millions of dollars in the Pellissippi Place technology research and development park, and it is good to see it attracting business growth,” said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. “The jobs created there by ProNova will not only benefit Knox and Blount counties, but our entire region.”

“We are pleased to have ProNova entering this community and setting up shop at Pellissippi Place,” said Maryville city Mayor Tom Taylor. “We had a plan for this space and now we are beginning to see the beginning of great things happening at this location. The Parkway expansion will only lend to further development.”

“I applaud ProNova for making a commitment to this region and using local resources to build and expand their brand,” said Innovation Valley board chairman Dr. Thomas Mason, Director Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “This type of technology is what the leaders of Innovation Valley have been striving to bring to this area. This location in Pellissippi Place shows our dedication to companies that see the value of the workforce and quality of life available in The Innovation Valley.”

Proton therapy benefits include significant decrease in tissue damage, decrease in debilitating side effects, decrease in secondary cancers from unnecessary radiation exposure while allowing for a combination of radiation, chemotherapy and biologic treatments and the potential for patient cost savings by decreasing complications and secondary cancers.

Provision is developing a $119 million proton therapy cancer center that is taking shape at Dowell Springs Business Park off Middlebrook Pike in Knoxville.

The Provision Health Alliance was formed by multiple providers and physician practice groups that have common goals and interests in providing innovative and comprehensive healthcare solutions to the community.

One of the original founders of Provision Health Alliance, Terry Douglass has played an integral role in the development and commercialization of positron emission tomography (PET) and its development globally while at CTI Molecular Imaging. CTI specialized in the development, production and distribution of products and services for diagnostic imaging from 1983 to 2005 when it was acquired by Siemens.

Due to the PET innovations at CTI, cancer can be diagnosed earlier and therefore treated earlier leading to a much higher level of success ultimately saving lives. The mission and vision of CTI was to make PET a clinical reality and increase access to this life saving technology.

That vision is carried forward at Provision Health Alliance where leading edge technologies like Proton Therapy are being added in order to meet the needs of cancer patients in the community.