By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

Hartsville hosted members of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development last month as part of a regional listening tour.

ECD officials in a Feb. 22 visit focused on development in rural counties and heard from representatives not only from Trousdale County, but also Macon, Smith and Sumner Counties.

Amy New, assistant commissioner of TNECD for Rural Development, highlighted the overall economic situation in rural areas of Tennessee. According to New, since the   2015 TNECD has spent $51.5 million statewide on various programs designed to grow rural economies, leading to $1.36 billion in capital investments and 5,500 jobs.

Submitted photo
Amy New

Two programs, the Site Development Grant and Property Evaluation Program, were cited by New.

“This has been so significant… it’s unbelievable the stuff that has come out of this,” New said.

One example was given by Charly Lyons, executive director of Tennessee Central Economic Authority, whose group used a grant to add a sewer line into the PowerCom industrial park. That improvement helped bring both CoreCivic and ARC Automotive facilities into the site, adding hundreds of jobs in Trousdale County.

New thanked members of the General Assembly, including Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver and Sen. Ferrell Haile, for their focus on improving Tennessee’s economy.

“The return on investment that we’re already seeing is incredible,” New said.

New gave the example of Gibson County in West Tennessee, which went through the program and landed a Tyson Foods plant.

Carthage Mayor Donnie Dennis noted the impact of another program, the Main Street development, on his town.

Trousdale County Mayor Carroll Carman said broadband was the top need to develop the local economy.

“I see broadband as the most positive economic development inside the county,” Carman said. “We can educate our people better, have the opportunity for industries in homes and have high-speed Internet in our businesses. We’re thankful for ECD and its help there.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.