Presidents Island Expansion Plans Scaled Back After Federal Grant Money Denied

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(Memphis) City and county leaders are coming up with a "Plan B" for expansion of Presidents Island after they were denied nearly $35 million in federal grant money.

Memphis boosters say Presidents Island is prime location for industry.

"It's close to the airport. It's close to the expressway. It's on the river. It's got rail coverage from the rail lines," says Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.

County and city leaders were hoping to expand the island by 1,500 acres helping existing companies grow, opening the door for dozens of new ones and creating 5,000 to 6,000 new jobs.

But the federal grant money that would make the plan possible was denied.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says no grants over $20 million were handed out this year.

"They simply told us well Nashville got it this time, but we are hopeful there will be another round," says Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.

Supporters aren't giving up.

"Instead of 1,500 acres, we will do 500 acres," says Wharton. "Guess what? That's
more jobs, and that’s what it’s all about."

Project officials have not announced how many jobs the new plan will create.

But it will cost $38 million. Companies already on the island are chipping in. Some of the money will come from city, county and state funds.

No time line has been set.

"It's been a long-term project to begin with. In full fruition, we were looking at 20 to 25 years to really reach its full capacity," says Luttrell.

In the meantime, project planners will continue to apply for federal grant money.

"We are going to be coming back. We are hopeful there will be another round of Tiger grants. That's what they call them," says Wharton.

City and county leaders say there are ideas on the drawing board and they're hoping to have the blueprints ready very soon.