SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — New developments coming to Exit 407 in Sevier County will bring more job opportunities into the region’s booming tourism industry.

The Sevier County Economic Development Council (SCEDC) partnered with Kitawuh LLC, the business arm of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for “The 407: Gateway to Adventure” commercial development project.

The first part of what is known as the Cherokee Project involves building Buc-ee’s, the Courtyard by Marriott hotel and an entertainment district in the southeast corner of the intersection of State Highway 66 and Interstate 40 in Sevier County. International entertainment company Puy Du Fou has also announced plans to build a theme park in that location.

Across I-40, another development has yet to take shape though the property has been purchased. About 122 acres around Tennessee Smokies Stadium will also be developed by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Tribe. A site plan and future for that location have not yet been released.

Graph showing how the size of the labor force in Sevier County has grown since January 1990, Data source: Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis.

A mass hiring event is set next month for Buc-ee’s, where dozens of positions are expected to be filled. The advertised wage for a full-time cashier is $17 an hour with three paid weeks off.

Like most counties in East Tennessee and around the country, Sevier County has been facing rising costs for housing, employee shortages and other workforce issues in the wake of the global pandemic.

“We’re excited about the jobs that it’s bringing and we think a lot of the employment will be coming from other communities as well,” said Alan Newton, executive director of SCEDC.

Newton and the council recruit businesses to build within Sevier County and also provide information, such as traffic studies, to developers looking to build or grow in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

“We worked with quite a few businesses over the years and we’re proud of the businesses that recruited or the businesses that just come to us,” he said.

One of those developments is the Tennessee Smokies Stadium built in April 2000. After its construction, the council voted to build water and sewer systems near Exit 407 to create the possibility of more development. That led to the current development.

Newton noted that since the developments are in northern Sevier County, the development creates job opportunities for those in Jefferson, Cocke, Knox and other counties accessible by the interstate.

“We have some manufacturers out there, and they attract employees from nine counties, so it’s a great stimulus for our region,” he said.

SCEDC is currently working with the county, the City of Sevierville, the Tennessee Department of Transportation and others on the potential traffic issues that may come during the opening of Buc-ee’s and the rest of the development.

In the works also is an additional exit from I-40 in Sevier County that will be “Exit 408.” All the growth has certainly kept Sevier County officials busy, but they aren’t complaining.

“We’re victims of our own success,” Newton said, smiling.

The Buc-ee’s location is currently hiring. Read how to apply at the Sevierville location.

Unemployment data for Sevier County from 1990 to Dec 2022 shows the pattern of seasonal employment in the tourism based economy. Data: Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis