On April 25, 2018, the City of East Ridge was notified that the Governor had signed into law an extension of the Investment Period for the highly successful Border Region Retail Tourism Development District Act. This extension allows all three of Tennessee’s “Border Region” cities—Bristol, East Ridge, and Kingsport—to continue investing in new economic development through June of 2027.
Designed to keep sales tax dollars in Tennessee by making its border cities more competitive, this legislation allows a city to enter into financial incentive agreements to spur new development within a prescribed area—its Border Region District. The city can then be reimbursed for the cost of those incentives by receiving a portion of the state’s share of increased sales tax revenue. Although complicated and often misunderstood, the legislation has already had a profoundly positive impact on the East Ridge economy. Several new businesses have already located in East Ridge, and many more projects are in the works with plans to break ground in the upcoming months.
To date, the City of East Ridge has welcomed Bass Pro Shops, Firehouse Subs, and Dunkin Donuts as a direct of result of Border Region incentive agreements, while Chick-fil-A (scheduled opening May 2018), Marco’s Pizza (Summer 2018), and Hampton Inn (September 2018) are slated to open in the near future. The addition of the Bass Pro Shops alone helped propel the city to a 20% jump in its local option sales tax revenues from FY 2016 to FY 2017 and has returned that parcel back to the property tax rolls to the benefit of both Hamilton County and the City of East Ridge.
The City has invested over $12.6 million in its Border Region District since 2015 and has received $4.4 million in reimbursement from State sales tax dollars, of which it has retained $2.3 million and distributed $2.1 million via financial incentive agreements with developers. Among the projects being financed with Border Region dollars are the expansion of Camp Jordan Parkway, the I-75 and Ringgold Road Interchange Reconfiguration, the West Ringgold Road streetscape project, and the Town Square Pavilion at the former McBrien School. According to the legislation, the city may continue receiving reimbursements until 2042 or until it has been fully reimbursed, whichever comes first.