Haslam Talks Rural Economic Development In West Tennessee

Press Release

By:  Bill Haslam
Date: Sept. 21, 2010
Location: Jackson, TN

Will Create New Leadership Position with a Rural Focus

Republican gubernatorial nominee and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam will discuss today his plans for rural economic development during visits to Madison County. One of his most important proposals is to create a leadership position within the Department of Economic and Community Development devoted solely to small towns, rural development and agricultural issues.

Mayor Haslam will also touch on the need to find efficient and cost effective ways to increase access to broadband in rural areas and discuss the importance of agriculture, conservation and tourism in rural Tennessee.

"In many of our rural areas, the unemployment rate exceeds the statewide rate," said Haslam. "From concerns about access to broadband and water to communities dependent upon agriculture or tourism and the need to preserve small town character, rural economic development requires a specific, targeted approach.

"Earlier this year I announced that I would create a leadership position within ECD to focus on small town, rural and agricultural issues," Haslam continued. "The person in this position will serve as my point person on rural issues and will be one of my most important appointments."

Haslam's Director of Small Towns & Rural Development will report directly to the ECD commissioner and will have the ear of the governor on rural economic issues. Another significant aspect of Mayor Haslam's jobs plan is decentralizing ECD and establishing regional jobs base camps that will help each region leverage existing assets and coordinate economic development efforts in order to establish specific regional strategies.

"What I envision is my rural director working with our regional leaders on the ground to make sure that all of their needs are being met and that they have the support they need from the governor's office in order to execute their economic development strategies," Haslam continued.

Today Mayor Haslam will meet with leaders from the Regional Economic Development Initiative, or REDI, in Southwest Tennessee, one of two significant economic partnerships recently formed in the area.

"Between REDI and the partnership of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, Department of Economic and Community Development and TVA, there are lots of great things happening in Southwest Tennessee," said Haslam.

"As governor, I want to help the region establish a unified, proactive strategy around rural development, and I've laid out a plan to do just that," added Haslam.