A 'Festival' of jobs coming

Friday, March 4, 2011
Marshall County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett, left, and UAW Local 1853 Chairman Mike Herron of Chapel Hill in front of Liggett, listen to announcements about a planned development east of I-65 near Spring Hill.

SPRING HILL -- A businessman with associates in Las Vegas and Beverly Hills on Wednesday announced plans to build a mixed-use, entertainment-oriented development on the east side of Interstate 65 near Marshall County.

The $750 million, 1,000-acre proposal might generate 15,000 jobs for area residents, according to Dennis Peterson of Nevada-based Big International Group of Entertainment. BIGE's to be chartered in Tennessee, Peterson said, according to the Associated Press and various broadcast and print reports.

Peterson's business partner, Roger Kidneigh of Nevada, acknowledged BIGE's Nevada charter was revoked for inactivity, but said the Spring Hill plan is "very real," the AP reported.

Spring Hill Mayor Mike Dinwiddie has been keeping BIGE's plan a "secret" since Christmas, he said during a press conference at the proposed development's site where he countered early descriptions of BIGE plans as "more than an amusement park."

Festival Tennessee, however, was the name used for the project.

Marshall County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett, Lewisburg industrial developer Greg Lowe, Joint Economic and Community Development Board executive director Mike Wiles, and county building and zoning officer Don Nelson attended the press conference where Liggett continued a conversation with David Webb, who proposed development of Ole South USA theme park and related projects at Rally Hill.

Liggett confirmed Webb's project is different and that the Franklin resident attended to see what's proposed.

A poster displayed by Peterson has an artistic style similar to images shared by Webb in early 2008.

Lewisburg and Marshall County officials saw Peterson's announcement as boding well for the local economy, still straddled with high unemployment. They were happy for Spring Hill and Maury County because the development would be nearby.

Such a rising tide of development, Lowe said, "will raise more boats than just Maury and Williamson counties. If they're planning a charter school, and hotels, they may have to expand that footprint" of the project.

"Disney World is 7,000 acres," Lowe said.

Some of the land is already in Spring Hill, according to media reports, and a majority of Spring Hill planning commissioners have supported requests for more property annexation and zoning for the business proposed off Jim Warren Road.

"Why wouldn't they?" Lowe asked.

A purchase option is held by the developers for use after the land is zoned for business, according to the Williamson Herald.

The Opryland theme park closed in Nashville during 1997, a fact Webb cited for his plans at Rally Hill. Reports quote industry businessmen as saying Nashville is among a few metropolitan areas without a theme park but where the market could support it. Marshall County's central location -- like the rest of Middle Tennessee -- is cited as a development advantage because so much of the nation's population is within a few hours drive.

"It's a good thing for the region," Wiles said of the proposal. "It's going to offer jobs for Marshall County.

Those would include construction jobs for the development planned for a late 2012 opening.

"They won't release who the underwriters are," Wiles continued.

Meanwhile, Spring Hill Mayor Michael Dinwiddie said there would be more announcements about the project.