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Multi-year Partnership Results in Dual Certification for Columbia TN Rail Site

The Columbia Tennessee Rail Site (CTRS) is the product of a long-standing collaborative effort between the Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance (Maury Alliance), the City of Columbia, and state and regional economic development partners. Located in Maury County, the CTRS has been years in the making and offers several strategic advantages that are often difficult to find in a site. It recently earned certifications from both CSX and the TNECD making it dual certified as a CSX Select Site and a Select TN Certified Industrial Site. This publicly owned, 225-acre property with industrial grade utilities is shovel-ready for any large manufacturer requiring rail service looking for a prime location to invest.

In 2015, the Maury Alliance convened the Property Development Committee, composed of local government and utility stakeholders from across the county, for assistance identifying potential sites for evaluation through the Tennessee Economic & Community Development’s (TNECD) Property Evaluation Program (PEP). Eight properties were identified, and Maury Alliance submitted them to TNECD’s PEP for review in 2016. The findings of TNECD’s PEP review highlighted what is now the Columbia TN Rail Site as Maury County’s best opportunity to land another large rail served manufacturer.

During a Product Development meeting hosted by the TVA around the same time, the lack of large rail served sites in the Middle TN region was highlighted as a critical need – further emphasizing the need for and future potential of the Columbia TN Rail Site. Following this meeting, the Maury Alliance and the City of Columbia immediately began putting plans in motion to acquire the site.

Thanks to City of Columbia’s excellent work in cultivating relationships with local landowners, the Columbia Industrial Development Board (IDB) was able to move quickly to secure the site after it was almost lost to residential development. The Columbia IDB put the largest tract of the property under contract and obtained options for the remaining two parcels.

“A key initiative of our current strategic plan is property development, ensuring we are constantly evaluating our existing inventory of available property and identifying opportunities for future development,” said Maury Alliance President Wil Evans. “I commend the City of Columbia for their long-term vision to bring this property to market, as well as their quick and decisive action to secure the site.”

While the Columbia IBD acquired the property in 2019, the Maury Alliance spear-headed efforts to submit competitive grant applications through the TNECD and TVA. These efforts resulted in a $1M Site Development Grant awarded by the TNECD and two separate grants awarded through the TVA InvestPrep program. After the grant funds were received, the Columbia IDB executed their options on the remaining two parcels of land to consolidate ownership of the site.

“TNECD commends the Maury County Chamber & Economic Alliance for utilizing the entire Select Tennessee suite of programs to enhance its industrial property inventory,” said Kirby Lewis, TNECD Site Development Director. “From finding the site through the Property Evaluation Program, to purchasing the site with funds from the Site Development Grant Program, to achieving Select Tennessee Site Certification, Maury County’s diligence and hard work will no doubt provide lasting benefits for the community in the years ahead.”

Once the property was purchased, the Maury Alliance began the process of working towards CSX Select and Select TN site certifications. To achieve any site certification, extensive due diligence must be completed to ensure that a property can meet whatever needs a future company might require. One of the TVA InvestPrep grants helped offset the cost of this due diligence. Nearly five years after being first identified, the CTRS was ultimately designated as a CSX Select Site and achieved certification as a Select TN Site – making it a dual certified site in 2020.

“Several years ago, leadership in Columbia and Maury County understood the need to identify land for future industrial development.  When this property rose to the top, it allowed them to confidently invest in this property’s due diligence and eventual purchase,” said Jonathan Gemmen, Austin Consulting Senior Director.  “Now that the property has moved through the process of site certification, it will get the attention it deserves from site selection consultants and prospects.”

The CTRS is one of fewer than 25 sites in all of CSX’s service territory that have achieved a CSX Select Site certification. CSX Select Sites are development-ready properties along the CSX network where standard land use considerations and comprehensive due diligence items have already been addressed.

Certifications as both a CSX Select and Select TN site, means the Columbia TN Rail Site has met high quality standards required of a wide variety of manufacturers ensuring it is primed for development, significantly reducing the time required to construct facilities and bring products to market.

“Achieving CSX Select Site and Select TN Site Certifications is the culmination of a multi-year partnership between the City of Columbia, the City of Columbia Industrial Development Board, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Middle Tennessee Industrial Development Agency (MTIDA), Patriot Rail, Austin Consulting, and the Maury County Chamber & Economic Alliance,” said Travis Groth, VP of Economic Development at Maury Alliance. “We are deeply appreciative to CSX and TNECD for sponsoring these excellent site certification programs. Awarding of the prestigious CSX Select Site and Select TN Site Certifications to the Columbia Tennessee Rail Site brings global attention to this 225-acre, publicly owned rail site located less than an hour from downtown Nashville and serves as a fantastic way to officially launch the site.”

The City of Columbia, CSX, and Patriot Rail, among many others, have already made impactful contributions to the development of this property to make it even more attractive to prospective businesses.

While it is currently unknown which company or companies will ultimately select the Columbia TN Rail Site, the Maury Alliance’s goal is to attract a large industrial company requiring rail service that will have a significant positive impact on the local economy. For more information and to view an aerial video of the site, visit www.columbiarailsite.com.

“We are very excited and extremely pleased to achieve both CSX Select Site and Select TN Site Certifications. This is the result of a lot of work by the Maury Alliance and the City of Columbia to make this happen. The development of this new industrial site has been one of the highest priorities of the Columbia City Council,” said Columbia City Manager Tony Massey. “We look forward to the day when there will be major announcement at this site.”