OUR OPINION: TVA land transfer offers a new chance for growth

The probable transfer of 172 acres owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority at the Yellow Creek industrial site in Tishomingo County to the state of Mississippi creates another opportunity for major development at that prime location on the Tennessee River and the Tenn-Tom Waterway.

Since 1971, when TVA announced that it would build a nuclear power plant at the site, Tishomingo countians and people in Northeast Mississippi have waited for Yellow Creek’s ship to come in. So far, it has not.

After $1.2 billion in nuclear plant investment, that project was mothballed and abandoned.

That was followed by a planned advanced solid rocket motor (ASRM) for the space shuttle fleet, but after $1.5 billion invested, politics in Washington killed that project when it was 80 percent complete and the jobs it had brought in relocations by contractor employees from California.

Some smaller private-sector businesses are on the site, but it has not scored big as the home of large industries employing hundreds, if not thousands.

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker’s efforts to win congressional transfer of 172 acres, if finalized, would lead to another state effort to bring major industry to the acreage. The Mississippi Development Authority would be given fuller sway in developing the site.

Companion legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House by Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., and co-sponsored by the rest of the Mississippi delegation.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted favorably Thursday on a bill proposed by Cochran and Wicker to transfer the site at the Yellow Creek Port in Iuka from TVA to the state. The bill has the backing of TVA, the Mississippi Development Authority, the Yellow Creek Port and the Tombigbee River Valley Water Management District; all those agencies have official relationships with Yellow Creek, the port, the river and the waterway.

The boundary lines of statehood gave Mississippi few miles of shoreline on the Tennessee River. It is heavily developed with permanent residences and vacation homes, but Mississippi has barely scratched the surface in commercial and industrial development compared to Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky.

The transfer of 172 valuable acres from the Tennessee Valley Authority provides another opportunity for Mississippi to increase shoreline assets with substantial employment and investment.