Homesteader hits snag in project to bring jobs to county

Jan Runions Staff Writer

October 26, 2013

A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) no-interest loan could be the catalyst for creating more than 100 local jobs within the next four years.

Homesteader Inc. President Anthony Mountain recently attempted to secure a loan guarantee from the city of New Tazewell before moving forward with plans to expand and restructure his company using the as yet undetermined loan amount.

The loan was discussed at the October meeting of the New Tazewell Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Mountain said the USDA requires the loan go through a local cooperative, in this case Powell Valley Electric. The Cooperative, in turn, asks that Mountain secure a guarantee from the city to “stand good” for the loan.

The 10 year note would allow Homesteader to modify its property and construct an 80,000 square foot building.

Mountain said Coffey Road, adjacent to Homesteader, will be reworked and the Tennessee Department of Transportation is ready to proceed with that part of the project.

He said the loan is capped at $2 million, with a 20 percent match by the company. However, the entire project will likely cost well over the loan cap due to extensive upgrades to the infrastructure, he said.

The project, expected to begin next spring, hit a snag when it was determined the city could not guarantee the loan. Credit cannot be given or loaned to any person, company, association or corporation except by election of the qualified voters of a municipality, according to the Internal Control and Compliance Manual for Tennessee Municipalities.

At least three-quarters of the votes cast must be in agreement with the action.

New Tazewell government would then need approval from the Office of State and Local Finance prior to entering into the debt agreement.

Mountain had a deadline of Oct. 21 to secure the guarantee from a county governmental entity. It was unclear if the company would be able to secure an extension of the deadline so as to find an alternate governmental body to back the loan.

Homesteader currently employs about 135 people.

In another matter, a grant through Walmart will allow about 50 county children access to funds for Christmas shopping this year. New Tazewell police officer Brent Clark updated the BMA about the annual program.

Clark said he and his fellow officers were hoping to get other law enforcement agencies, civic organizations, churches and businesses involved.

“We had a blast last year,” he said, adding that the program is for any deserving child and not just for low-income children.

For more information about the “Shop with a Cop” program, contact Clark at the New Tazewell Police Department.

Reach Jan Runions at jrunions@civitasmedia.com or 423-626-3222.