BLOUNT COUNTY - Both state and local economic leaders say a $553 million ammunition company project in Blount County is "still ongoing" despite a handful of setbacks.
In October 2015, Advanced Munitions International announced plans to expand and relocate its headquarters from Arizona to Alcoa, bringing 605 jobs to Blount County.
AMI was given two years to begin construction on the project. That deadline is up on Oct. 19.
"I've been here for six years, and it's the first one we've ever had use three quarters of their allotted time to get it done, so I'd say it's pretty rare," Blount Partnership Communications Director Jeff Muir said. "If they want to take the full two years to do it, that's their prerogative."
Since the announcement, AMI has undergone changes in leadership, lawsuits and financial troubles.
In October 2016, former AMI CEO Mark Kresser sued AMI and its sister company, Advanced Tactical Armament Concepts, on charges including fraud and breach of contract.
Kresser claimed that the companies "did not have the financial ability, or commitments to construct a several-hundred-million dollar manufacturing plant in Alcoa, Tennessee."
AMI has also since returned the deed for its 235 acres on Louisville Loop Road to the Blount Partnership.
"When we deem that they are financially sound and stable to start this project, we'll deed the land back to them and they will reimburse the Partnership and county for any lawyer-related fees or costs," Muir said.
Despite the setbacks, economic development leaders say they are confident the project will get up and going.
"While the timeline of the AMI project has shifted from what was announced in 2015, the project is still ongoing. The East Tennessee economy is experiencing great momentum, and we do not expect this delay to have an impact on the economy or job opportunities," Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Communications Director Jennifer McEachern said in a statement to 10News.
The Blount Partnership has not put capital investments such as roads and other infrastructe into the land for AMI's project.
"The ball is in their court as to as far as when they break ground, then we can start going with those capital improvements," Muir said.
Alcoa City Manager Mark Johnson said he hopes things will work out. He said all they can do is sit back, wait and see what happens.
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