West Tennessee Riverport Project Loses Funding
In the first week of March, 2010, county officials in Northwest Tennessee learned that $35 million federal grant funding of the proposed Mississippi River Cates Landing Riverport would not happen this year. Located near Tiptonville, Tennessee in Lake County, this proposed riverport complex was planned to impact the counties of Obion, Dyer, and Lake. At stake was the creation of 4,000 to 5,000 construction and river industry jobs. They are sorely needed. Dyer County has a 16% unemployment rate.
The federal U.S. Department of Transportation, under President Obama stimulus funding had recently announced $1.5 billion in new grant monies for cities and counties to begin major construction projects. This type of funding was listed as TIGER grants. TIGER stands for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery.
The vision of having a new modern port complex built in Northwest Tennessee brought together the regional interests of five counties and six counties in two states. The Tennessee local governments of Obion County (Union City), Dyer County (Dyersburg), and Lake County (Tiptonville) invested $2 million dollars in consultants, land assembly, and pre construction site marketing.
Fulton County (cities of Hickman and Fulton) and Hickman County (Clinton) in Kentucky looked forward to having Cates Landing as part of their economic development planning for the next decade of Mississippi River commerce. Kentucky officials viewed the proposed Cates Landing Riverport as a major addition to marketing the combined strengths of far Southwestern Kentucky.
This marketing would have included the linking of the Mississippi River ports of Cates Landing and Hickman with the Mega Industrial Park of Graves County Kentucky. This new industrial park holds over 2,500 acres of prime land for heavy industrial development.
No Money in 2010
As news reached Obion County on March 1, 2010, local officials were devastated over the situation. “Somebody is playing political games with northwest Tennessee,” said Benny McGuire, Obion County official. McGuire added, “If we don’t get some additional help, Cates Landing will be in the far off future. I’m very disappointed.”
Obion County had promised to pay $650,000 for its share of committing to build the new riverport. All but $70,000 has been paid to the project. This money now is in question by the county.
Danny Jowers, Obion County Commissioner, said, “We put our money up in good faith that we were going to get good funding. Why in the world would we put up all this money if we knew the federal government wasn’t going to fund this thing?”