‘Field of Dreams’: Limestone Farmland Deemed Ready for Large Industry

“TVA is not just giving us an opportunity to succeed, but to lead. Their ‘best in class’ power generation and our existing interstates, water, sewer, and natural gas capabilities, our second to none workforce, and our local leader’s commitment to economic development, allows Limestone County to compete globally,” said Limestone County Commission Chairman Mark Yarborough. “I would like to thank TVA President Bill Johnson, as well as Board Chairman Joe Ritch for making these opportunities available for the citizens of Limestone County, and North Alabama.”

 

From the News Courier Story by Adam Smith, June 15, 2016

A piece of farmland in Huntsville-annexed Limestone County could soon be home to a world-class industry after receiving Tennessee Valley Authority ‘megasite’ certification.

Officials with TVA, the city of Huntsville, Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce, state of Alabama and Limestone County Commission made the announcement Wednesday. Economic and government leaders spoke to the media across the street from the 1,252-acre property known as the Sewell tract.

The property, which has been kept under option by the city of Huntsville for six years, was previously considered by Volkswagen for a new manufacturing facility. Volkswagen ultimately decided to build in Chattanooga. Officials hope to land an industry of Volkswagen’s caliber on the Sewell site.

“We’ve been in the megasite program for 12 years and we’ve created 30,000 new jobs and a capital investment of more than $6 billion,” said Bill Johnson, president and CEO of TVA. “We have this piece of farmland behind us. … Within a year, I want to see something done over here. Not started, but done. So let’s get to it.”

Huntsville native Joe Ritch, chairman of the TVA Board of Directors, referred to the tract as a “field of dreams.”

“We have a shovel-ready site ready to bring jobs and I look forward to coming to the groundbreaking” he said.

Johnson later explained TVA and economic development officials would be searing for “the right prospect” for the property. He added the one-year time frame is “aggressive,” but said there has already been interest expressed in the property.

Limestone County Commission Chairman Mark Yarbrough credited Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle with Wednesday’s announcement. Yarbrough recalled receiving a congratulatory phone call from Battle the night he won the chairman’s post. He said Battle wanted to discuss future plans over breakfast at 7 a.m. the next day.

Yarbrough explained Battle discussed his goals for Huntsville-annexed portions of Limestone County, and receiving a TVA megasite certification was one of those. The chairman said having the Sewell site certified not only gives the region a chance to compete for a lucrative project, but also to lead the way.

“We continue to be excited about our success in economic development and we’ll continue the teamwork aspect and keep on keeping on,” he said.

Industries sought

Both Yarbrough and Battle said there has been interest in the property, but declined to name specific industries.

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