BAXTER, TENN. White House officials, state and local elected officials, community partners, and officials with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration gathered at the Baxter Welcome Center/Depot Monday to celebrate the announcement a $1 million grant award that will provide funding for the extension of a sewer line and water line upgrades to the future site of Portobello America, Inc. 

In December 2018, state officials announced the Brazilian ceramic tile manufacturer would locate its U.S. headquarters and first U.S. production facility in Baxter; creating 220 jobs and investing approximately $150 million in Putnam County. The Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD) worked with the City of Baxter and submitted the grant on behalf of the city. In addition to the $1 million grant award from EDA, the City of Baxter will also receive an additional $500,000 in federal funds and another $600,000 in local funds. 

“One of the goals of the Development District is to provide sustainable economic and community development support within our region,” said Mark Farley, UCDD Executive Director. “The strong partnerships UCDD has with local, state, and federal agencies play a significant role in assisting the communities we serve. We believe that the Upper Cumberland region is made stronger through regional cooperation and shared resources. We are honored to work with agencies that operate with that same intent as ours, to improve the quality of life for all of our citizens.”

With this funding provided by the Economic Development Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission, a new 12-inch waterline will be extended to the Portobello site from the existing 12-inch line on the high-pressure side of the Baxter system control valve. This upgrade will replace the existing 8-inch waterline that feeds the proposed manufacturing site which is currently incapable of meeting TDEC regulations under industrial and fire flow conditions by Portobello.  

The existing gravity flow sewer will be extended from the Olan Maxwell Road pump station to the Portobello America site, located on Ditty Road. System improvements will also be made at Olan Maxwell Road, Love’s Truck Stop, and Speedway pump stations.

“The funding provided by the Economic Development Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission will ensure that Portobello America will have sufficient infrastructure to operate at maximum capacity for years to come,” said Tommy Lee, UCDD’s Economic Development Director. “This is a big win for not only Baxter and Putnam County, but for the Upper Cumberland Region as a whole.”

This project location falls within an identified opportunity zone. There are 176 census tracts in Tennesseeidentified as opportunity zones, nominated by Tennessee and certified by the Secretary of the Treasury. 

In total, three Tennessee cities the City of Baxter, the Town of Mountain City, and the City of South Pittsburg were awarded a combined $4.4 million in grant funds by EDA. 

Construction of Portobello’s new facility, located at the former Tennessee Motor Speedway site, is anticipated to be complete by 2021.