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TNECD announces expansion of Site Development Grant program

Maury County Site
The Innovation Campus in Spring Hill, a recent Site Development Grant recipient.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development has announced an expansion of the state’s Site Development Grant Program, which aims to prepare rural industrial sites to attract new businesses and investment to Tennessee. 

The changes are designed to mitigate the time and risk associated with industrial development projects across the state and will include increased funding, reduced match requirements for eligible sites and the introduction of speculative building construction.   

“Tennessee remains committed to being a premier destination for businesses, and the updated Site Development Grant Program reflects our state’s proactive approach to economic growth,” said TNECD Commissioner Stuart C. McWhorter. “Through these changes, we are reinforcing Tennessee’s position as a competitive player in the economic development landscape, and we look forward to seeing the new opportunities that these updates will bring to our rural communities.” 

The three key features of the enhanced Site Development Grant Program include increased funding, reduced match for eligible sites, and speculative building construction.  

The program now offers an expanded pool of funds, enabling TNECD to provide even greater financial support to eligible applicants. This increased funding will facilitate infrastructure improvements and site readiness, ensuring companies have the necessary resources to establish a strong presence in the state. The increased grant maximum will go to $5 million from the current $1 million while the due diligence maximum will remain at $100,000.  

To enhance accessibility and support economic progress in targeted communities, the Site Development Grant Program has reduced the match requirements for the most competitive and prepared sites. At present, Tier 1 counties have a 50/50 match, Tier 2 a 70/30, Tier 3 a 90/10, and Tier 4 a 95/5 match. With the updated program, there will also be a 50% match reduction for sites that have received a site visit from Austin Consulting through the Select Tennessee Certified Sites Program. This reduction will enable communities facing economic challenges to take advantage of the program's benefits, fostering their growth and revitalization. 

The revised program now allows for the construction of speculative buildings, addressing the evolving needs of businesses. To be eligible for a Site Development Grant (SDG), the applicant must be a governmental entity (city, county, industrial development board, etc.). The site must be publicly owned at the time of application unless the grant request is to purchase the property or perform due diligence studies.  

Sites must be at least 20 acres and have gone through, at a minimum, the site visit by Austin Consulting (Foote) for the Select Tennessee certification program, the site visit and evaluation by Austin Consulting for the Property Evaluation Program or the site visit by KPMG for TVA’s Invest Prep program. Entities in Tier 3 and 4 counties may submit sites that are at least 10 acres and meet all other requirements. Sites with open SDG projects are not eligible to apply. 

This addition empowers communities to proactively construct speculative facilities, providing ready-to-use spaces for companies considering relocation or expansion in Tennessee. This flexibility will attract a wider range of industries and stimulate economic activity throughout the state. 

The Site Development Grant program, part of the Rural Economic Opportunity Act, works in tandem with TNECD’s Select Tennessee program. Since its inception, TNECD has awarded 153 Site Development Grants across the state, totaling more than $60 million in assistance to local communities and generating approximately 6,400 new jobs for Tennesseans.  

For more information about the updated program, visit here