By Gordon Boyd
Eyewitness News Reporter
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The "signs" are going up. Crews have been sealing the pavement Thanksgiving Eve. All to get the Enterprise South Industrial Park's newest "roundabout" ready by next Monday.
But what will 'Project Infinity' deliver?
"We're still not comfortable with their name being publicly discussed," says Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield.
"Our discipline in maintaining confidentiality is a key ingredient to our success in recruiting these companies, " says Trevor Hamilton, with the Chamber of Commerce.
Recruiters say that 23 acres of Project Infinity's 80-acre site would be 'under roof' as a distribution center; more than 1 million square feet, once after a $4 million state "Fast Track" grant helps re-grade the 0.3 acre wetland.
In return, 'Infinity' promises to invest $101 million to create 1,250 full-time jobs, paying, on average, $32,000 per year.
"If I had to guess, it would be very closely related to auto-parts production," says Dr. Matt Murray, Associate Director of the University of Tennessee's Center for Business & Economic Research in Knoxville.
Dr. Murray says any other use likely wouldn't play to Enterprise South's, or Chattanooga's strengths; though engineers' and architects' drawings provide for loading bays and parking for large trucks.
"Even an auto parts facility could have distribution associated with it," Dr. Murray says. "They need a place to store the product when they've produced it."
That could explain 'Infinity's' Bradley County component. Economic developers there aren't talking either, but the Chattanooga Times-Free Press reports that 'Infinity's' Bradley County investment could top $63 million to create 450 jobs, half of them full-time.
Bradley County's 70-acre site is privately-owned and subject to re-zoning. Site preparation could cost $6 million. Bradley County has sought a $2.2 million state 'Fast Track' grant, the newspaper reports.
Chattanooga's Mayor reiterates that Hamilton County does not consider Bradley County a partner in its bid; but the bids aren't viewed as competing proposals either.
"Hopefully, by next week, hopefully we can talk more openly," Littlefield says.
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