Public Policy Experts Call Out Hamilton County For $16 Million McDonald Farm Deal

Photo: McDonald Farm Photo Credit: Old McDonald Farm / Facebook

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

In the 2021 Pork Report by the Beacon Center of Tennessee, the organization calls out Hamilton County government for spending $16 million in taxpayer dollars for 2,170 acres of the McDonald Farm with the hope of converting it into a center of economic development.

In Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger’s speech, where he revealed that he will not seek reelection in 2022, one of the items he touted as a success of his administration was the purchase of the land.

During the proceedings to funnel taxpayer dollars toward the purchase of the land, Coppinger said, “This will be an opportunity for economic development, creating jobs and at the same time being environmentally friendly having green spaces there for use.” 

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However, the Beacon Center of Tennessee believes it is a bad move to invest millions in taxpayer dollars on the hope of the investment one day paying off.


Excerpt from the Beacon Center’s 2021 Pork Report:

Hamilton County’s $16 Million Purchase of Mostly Unusable Land 

Hamilton County commissioners must be fans of the movie Field of Dreams after spending $16 million to buy 2,170 acres in hopes to turn it into a manufacturing hub. If commissioners watched the “if you build it, they will come” ideas that have already taken place right here in Tennessee, they might have left that concept in fictional movies where it belongs. (See the first entry in this Pork Report for proof.) On top of shelling out millions of tax dollars with the dream of making it a manufacturing hub, the actual cost of the land was way out of left field. In the County Commission meeting regarding the purchase, the mayor stated there were only about 600-700 acres that were ready for development, meaning the price for current usable land cost taxpayers nearly $23,000 an acre. One can only hope this project doesn’t continue to cost taxpayers like the countless government properties that require more funds than disclosed down the road.

Solution – “If you build it, they will come” might be a good movie quote, but it makes for horrible policy. These types of deals historically have been a strikeout for taxpayers instead of a grand slam. Elected officials should stop short of spending tax dollars and instead seek to make it easier for businesses to operate in Tennessee.

View the full 2021 Pork Report HERE.

The Beacon Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing expert empirical research and timely free market solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee. By putting policy over politics, they have successfully pushed for bold reforms in education, healthcare, economic regulation, and tax policy, among many others.


About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at

One thought on “Public Policy Experts Call Out Hamilton County For $16 Million McDonald Farm Deal

  • December 16, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    These small counties think they are playing some kind of a board game where the money doesn’t matter.
    This should have never happened. The people of the county are now on the hook for that money along with the taxes. No wonder this guy is not going to run again


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