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By JUDY UNDERWOOD
Morgan County News Editor
At first glance $15,000 doesn't sound like much when you're talking about a multi-million dollar development park but last week's grant announcement is a crucial step for Plateau Partnership Park.
"This is very critical and hopefully we will be able to parlay it into a million dollar project or more," said Cumberland County Mayor Brock Hill.
Hill's comments came during an announcement last week the Plateau Partnership Park has been awarded a $15,000 grant from Rural Development to pay for a feasibility study.
The feasibility study is a necessary step for the tri-county effort which includes Morgan, Roane and Cumberland counties to move forward. The study is mandated by the state's Economic Development Agency.
The park includes more than 1,000 acres and is located near three modes of transportation, rail, interstate and air. It is positioned near Rockwood Airport, I-40 and includes Morgan and Cumberland counties and is very close to Roane County as well.
Local leaders, like County Executive Becky Ruppe, believe it is crucial to the economic future of the three-county area.
"Federal, state and even private funding often hinges on the results of an industrial development project's initial feasibility study," said Rural Development Area Director Joe Woody.
Hill said the study is set to begin this summer and its outcome will be essential as development of the park moves forward. Officials are already working on a grant application to bring infrastructure into the park.
Sen. Tommy Kilby is supporting efforts to make the park a reality. "Plateau Partnership Park will be an asset for years and years to come."