With some 200 business and political leaders from the Knoxville-region watching, the lights came on Tuesday evening at Pellissippi Place, the mixed-use tech park under development in Alcoa.
A glitch-free “Lighting of the Park” ceremony was important, but perhaps more important was the pledge of support the 450-acre project received from newly elected local government leaders.
The mixed-use project is being funded by $5 million investments by four different local governments — Knox and Blount counties and the cities of Alcoa and Maryville.
Maintaining multi-jurisdictional support in the coming years will be crucial to the long-term development of the project. And it will take years — if not decades — to build out Pellissippi Place.
Development plans include a technology business park, retail, hotels, residential, entertainment and recreational components.
Fromer Republican state senator and new Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett (he officially takes over as mayor on Wednesday, Sept. 1) said the park “is a positive move for the area.”
Knox County will always be his No.1 priority, however, successful development of Pellissippi Place is important for economic development throughout the region, Burchett said.
New Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell said the park will be an important job creator for the region and he’s “behind it 110 percent.”
Mitchell, the retired Maryville fire chief who won his first attempt at elective office, also said he’s willing to be patient as the project develops. The return on investment may not be immediate, but long-term Pellissippi Place will pay off , he said.
Congressman John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Knoxville) called the cooperative effort by the four local governments “a unique partnership” that will boost economic development throughout East Tennessee.
The partnership of local governments certainly is unique. But if local pols have the patience to maintain financial support while the project evolves — that will be truly unique.
Photo: Knoxville News Sentinel/ Roger Harris