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Cates Landing project takes shape; officials report benefits seen already

Cates Landing project takes shape; officials report benefits seen already
Staff Reporter
In just over six months, the Cates Landing project in Lake County will be up and running.
In the past few months, the Mississippi River port just north of Tiptonville has really begun to take shape.
The Northwest Tennessee Regional Port Authority met for 45 minutes Wednesday morning in Dyersburg and was updated on work going on at the port.
Universal Contractors LLC of Union City was awarded a $1,575,000 contract to build a new 40,000-square-foot warehouse on the port site and Harold Coffey Construction Co. Inc. of Hickman, Ky., was awarded an $878,000 contract for concrete work at the port site.
The two contracts were awarded to the low bidders for the work.
Construction of the new steel warehouse is scheduled to begin early this summer and is expected to be completed by November.
Forcum-Lannom’s Mike Sanders, senior project executive, said the new warehouse would make the port “more attractive” to port users.
Wednesday’s meeting was as much about the future of the port as it was about what has been accomplished so far on the project. Informa economics of Memphis has been working on putting together a comprehensive marketing plan and a list of potential port operators for the port authority, and those two key reports will be submitted to the board once funding for the informa economics contract is secured.
Dyersburg attorney John Lannom, who is consulting with the port authority, told the board, “We’re hoping all those lines will converge.”
“I’m hopeful we’re going to have something within the next 45 days,” he said.
Lannom informed the board a $150,000 funding application has been submitted to the USDA office in Union City to fund the marketing study and port operator report.
“They’re on track with the marketing study,” he informed the board, referring to informa economics.
As for the entire port project, port authority chairman Jimmy Williamson announced at Wednesday’s meeting that various elements of the project are either on schedule or ahead of schedule and under budget. His announcement was backed up by a budget document that showed nearly $10.2 million has been spent on the dock, just over $4 million has been spent on dry improvements and grading, $1.95 million has been spent on buildings and $3.2 million has been spent on engineering and inspection expenses. That comes to nearly $19.4 million of the $20 million that was budgeted for those items.
Williamson then pointed to an image from the site’s webcam and stated the obvious. “This is a massive project,” he said.
There was a definite sense of accomplishment that emanated from the meeting as the port board reviewed all the pieces of the puzzle that are coming together on the project.
As for the status of the Foreign Trade Zone designation, West Tennessee Industrial Association’s Mike Philpot reported, “We’re waiting on signatures. … We thought we’d have it done by now.”
As the meeting came to a close, it was Williamson who again stated the obvious. “Our area is beginning to reap the benefits of this project already,”  he said.
Williamson made a second report on the Cates Landing project when he attended the annual meeting of the I-69 Coalition in Union City later Wednesday morning.

Published in The Messenger 5.24.12

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