State budget includes Cates Landing project
Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 9:02 pm
By: Kevin Bowden, Staff Reporter
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Lake County’s Cates Landing project moved one step closer to reality Monday night.
The $7 million in state funding for the port project was included in Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed new state budget (see related photo and story).
The governor unveiled his state spending plan for legislators Monday night, prompting praise from both state Sen. Roy Herron of Dresden and state Rep. Bill Sanderson of Kenton.
“I’d like to say loud and clear a big thank you to Governor Haslam,” Herron told The Messenger late Monday night.
He had just finished his last meeting at 10 p.m. and contacted The Messenger with the good news about the port funding.
“From our first conversation about the port project, he has understood just how much these jobs can mean to our region,” Herron said.
He referred to the loss of about 1,900 jobs from the announced closure of the local Goodyear plant and the projected 2,300 jobs that are expected to be created with the completion of the port.
Herron said he has had “numerous conversations” with the governor concerning the Cates Landing project and other local economic development issues related to his senatorial district, which includes Benton, Decatur, Henry, Henderson, Lake, Obion, Perry, Stewart and Weakley counties.
“Particularly with Goodyear closing, Gov. Haslam could not have been more supportive,” he said. “I am very grateful to his hearing the needs of our people and responding to those needs.”
Herron went on to explain that Haslam’s proposed budget recognized the difficult challenges the state is facing and also recognized how hard some of the cuts that are included in the budget will impact the people of Tennessee.
“He and I are absolutely in agreement that we must live within our means and make tough decisions like so many Tennesseans must make,” he said. “I think Governor Haslam believes, as I do, that there are better days ahead if we do the right things now.”
From the point when Goodyear first announced it is shutting down its Union City plant, Herron has been directly involved in working with local, regional and state officials to deal with the Goodyear loss. He said Monday night he has been working closely with state Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty as well as other top officials in that and other state departments.
Sanderson has also been deeply involved in trying to get state funding for the Cates Landing project. He met last week with Haslam to voice his strong support for the $7 million in state funding needed to complete the port.
The Kenton businessman told The Messenger today he is pleased with the governor’s budget and the Cates Landing funding. He said during the governor’s State of the State Address Monday night, the governor singled out Obion and Lake counties and encouraged bi-partisan support for his budget.
At a time when the state is losing federal funding, Sanderson said, “Of all the programs he took money away from, we were one of only a couple of projects that were funded.”
Sanderson said the governor spoke Monday night about the strategic location of the port and how it will have a major positive impact on the entire region’s economic development efforts.
Haslam is scheduled to be at the Obion County Public Library at 2 p.m. Thursday to meet with local economic development officials. Sanderson and Herron said they and other state officials will be at that meeting.
The $7 million in state funding is a key element in the funding plan for the Cates Landing project.
What becomes even more critical now is the fate of $13 million in federal funding for the project.
In mid-February, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 235-189 for House Resolution 1, which would have cut more than $60 billion in federal spending from the national budget. The bill was later defeated 44-56 in the U.S. Senate, which now means the fate of the $13 million in funding for the Cates Landing project rests with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Despite voting for HR1, Congressman Stephen Fincher has been busy lobbying for the $13 million in federal funding for the Cates Landing project.
Published in The Messenger 3.15.11