Fincher: Cates Landing close to getting $13 million
Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 9:09 pm
By: Kevin Bowden, Staff Reporter
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Lake County’s Cates Landing project “is close, very close” to getting $13 million in federal funds, according to Congressman Stephen Fincher.
In a telephone interview with The Messenger Tuesday afternoon, the freshman lawmaker said he met earlier in the day with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood concerning the project’s funding application.
“I think it’s on track,” Fincher said about the TIGER II grant application.
TIGER is an acronym for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Re-covery. The Cates Landing application has already been approved, but the $13 million in funding has yet to be approved, according to Fincher.
“We’re trying to get everything situated and moving along,” he said, noting what’s at stake is one of the key pieces to the region’s economic future.
Fincher has been working hard on the project and already he and his staff have reached out to the White House, the House Transportation Appropria-tions Committee, the House Republican Conference and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Basically, the Cates Landing project needs $20 million to be completed.
The project is also known as the Northwest Tennessee Port and Industrial Park.
Those involved in the project are seeking $13 million in federal funds to go along with $7 million in state funds to complete the development of the Lake County harbor. Once the $20 million in funding is in place, the port is expected to take about a year and a half to complete.
After completion, the project is expected to create some 2,300 jobs.
It is the project’s job creation potential that economic development officials are focusing on as they push for funding.
Former Congressman John Tanner was directly involved in the Cates Landing project and has described it as “the biggest economic development initiative in northwest Tennessee for generations.”
The slack-water harbor is being developed to handle barges, which could be easily loaded and unloaded.
The harbor is strategically located 25 miles away from Interstate 155, which is directly connected to I-40, I-55, I-24 and the Purchase Parkway. The development of I-69 will even further enhance the location of the Lake County harbor in terms of industrial development.
Fincher described the Cates Landing project as a “shot in the arm” and a “big boost” for the region’s economy and said he is committed to the process of getting federal funding for the project.
He said the funding process for the project “is very close to being completed.”
In addition to approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Cates Landing application must also be approved by the U.S. Maritime Administration. Fincher has been working with Maritime administrator David Matsuda to ensure his agency supports the project.
Fincher said it is critical that everyone is on the same page concerning the Lake County project.
Never has the Cates Landing project been more significant than now, with the Feb. 10 announcement by Goodyear that it is closing its Union City plant by the end of this year. The local tire plant employs 1,900 workers.
The ripple effect from Goodyear’s announcement extends far beyond the plant’s 1,900 workers. The entire northwest Tennessee region has been affected.
Local, regional and state officials have been busy working on the Northwest Tennessee Port and Industrial Park since the Northwest Tennessee Regional Port Authority was formed in 2001. Dave Frankum of Union City serves on the port authority, which was scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. today at the Lannom Center in Dyersburg.
Published in The Messenger 3.9.11