18 agencies joined to propose comprehensive plan to promote rural growth 

NASHVILLE – The Governor’s Rural Task Force today released its strategic plan to advance rural communities and economic development throughout Tennessee.

More than 120 people representing economic development, tourism, local government, workforce development, small business, health, agriculture, infrastructure, banking and education served on one of six committees to develop the plan during the past year. The Task Force built upon ideas presented during input sessions, researched new solutions and refined the recommendations. The 18 agencies represented on the Task Force implemented a process designed to actively involve local stakeholders in the development of the strategic plan.

TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd, Department of Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett serve as co-chairs for the Task Force.

“Despite the unprecedented growth occurring in our state, many of Tennessee’s rural areas are not experiencing the same prosperity as urban areas,” Boyd said. “This strategic plan provides a potential menu of options to help transform and grow our rural communities.”

“A strong group of citizens is directing this effort with a vested interest in Tennessee’s rural areas,” Templeton said. “Much more work must be done, but this report lays a solid foundation for the future. I am grateful for the renewed interest in growing Tennessee’s rural communities and the recognition of the importance of agriculture. When our small towns and countryside thrive, we all benefit.”

“Tennessee is experiencing record-breaking tourism numbers in visitation. But with 70 percent of that economic impact being derived from five counties, it is imperative we find ways to elevate awareness and visitation to other areas,” Triplett said. “Some of the most rural parts of the state are the richest in scenic beauty, history, authentic music and outdoor adventure. Tourism development in those areas is economic development.”

The Task Force’s recommendations focus on capacity building and placemaking.

Capacity-building recommendations included health initiatives such as an incentives program for health care professionals in rural Tennessee and an oral health pilot; education programs to encourage work-based learning and a new rural teacher initiative; plans to reduce recidivism through employment programs and offer resources for rural entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Recommendations for placemaking, or the planning and design of community resources to promote overall well-being, call for tourism investment and site development resources, among other proposals to encourage retail and business growth in rural communities.

The Task Force is already working to implement some of its recommendations, including asset-based planning, one-stop-shop community resource guides and the Retail Academy. The Task Force will also support and empower local communities to build upon these programs to develop their own local programs. 

The Task Force brought together stakeholders from all parts of the state in a grassroots, bottom-up effort to create the recommendations in the report. The full report can be found here

About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies that help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. To grow and strengthen Team Tennessee, the department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. Tennessee is the only three-time winner of “State of the Year” for economic development by Business Facilities magazine. Find us on the web: TNECD.com. Follow us on Twitter: @TNECD. Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/TNECD.



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