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Tester says CCT earns its keep

After a city councilman questioned whether continued funding for Carter County Tomorrow was a good use of money, CCT officials have responded that the agency has indeed brought benefits to the county.
CCT chairman Richard Tester said Monday that CCT and its president, Tom Anderson, have worked hard to retain and create jobs and to draw more industry and businesses to the county.
Tester said CCT retained 100 jobs by working to keep Send the Light Distributing in Elizabethton.
“Tom worked diligently and was involved in communications to help bridge that gap when they were in negotiations in Johnson City for the old Bosch plant,” Tester said. “Tom worked to retain those jobs when they were getting ready to sign the contract with Johnson City to move into that building.”
Tester said CCT added another 25 to 30 jobs by encouraging STL to bring in more services to the Elizabethton location.
“That brought those jobs up to 125, which is a pretty respectable number,” he said.
Tester also outlined other projects Carter County Tomorrow has been involved in:
• CCT worked with the transition of the Highland Group to Georgia-Pacific. Tester said Georgia-Pacific is now adding a second shift, and is talking about adding a third and expanding the facility.
“They are talking to contractors presently,” Tester said. “Those are some big things.”
• CCT was involved in the new assisted living facility the Ocoee Foundation plans to open in west Elizabethton near the Medical Care facility. The preparation for the facility meant the relocation of a main sewer line that went through the property.
“Tom worked quite diligently with city staff to move that sewer line, otherwise that area would not have been developed at all,” Tester said. “It would have been a parking lot.”
• CCT has been involved with downtown revitalization plans and securing grant funding to add flags to downtown.
Tester also said CCT was part of bringing Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty to the county to help Mapes Piano String Company start an international expansion plan.
“They are looking to expand and do things on an international level,” Tester said. “The state can assist with some of those processes and offer tax credits. We have bridged a gap there.”
• CCT has worked with the Northeast State Community College expansion, which Tester said will be beneficial following the governor’s plan to offer a two-year college education to all students who want it.
• Tester pointed out the 2013 Fourth of July parade would not have been able to happen without CCT and the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce, which operates under the CCT umbrella. While councilman Bob Cable organized the parade, Tester said the city could not give the city funding for the event directly to a council member.
“The money could not have been channeled to another council person,” Tester said. “It went through the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber and CCT helped them pull that off.”
Tester said Carter County Tomorrow is involved in two ongoing projects: the Roan Mountain sewer project and the West Elk area redevelopment district.
Anderson said students from East Tennessee State University soon will conduct a survey of Roan Mountain residents to see how many want the sewer project to happen. He said if the community is OK with the project, and the water utility in Roan Mountain agrees to run the sewer system, then a preliminary report on the sewer project can be filed with the state and CCT can file for grant funding to help with the cost.
“We have to have those elements in place before we can move forward,” Anderson said.
The project would first bring sewer service to 100 customers and would cost between $1.5 million and $2 million.
Tester said CCT is working to secure funding for the master plan for the West Elk development district.
He said the plan would give more figures about the district so CCT would have a better idea of which businesses to recruit.
Tester also said there had also been interest from different businesses about locating in the Interstate 26 corridor near Borla Industries.
“I can’t really divulge any information, but there have been prospects that have come and visited the site,” he said. “We are trying to promote that area and make it as attractive as possible. There are things that have been done.”