Local leaders bring home fresh ideas for economic growth from Rural Development Conference
OOKEVILLE—Will Robbins, Executive Director of the Byrdstown Pickett County Chamber of Commerce, and the Leadership Pickett class for 2011, Michelle Mitchell and Francis Copeland, joined leaders from across the state April 13-14, as participants in the 16th Annual Rural Development Conference: Promoting Economic Success, hosted at Tennessee Technological University.
Dr. Chris Kuehl, managing director of Armada Corporate Intelligence n Kansas City, opened the conference with an economic overview of rural America.
Kuehl's company provides business strategy for clients using competitive intelligence, economic forecasting and strategic planning. Major clients include Mid-America Capital, Hallmark International and the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association among others.
Workshops by nationally recognized authorities focused on a variety of topics including, Best Municipal Practices in Renewable Energy, Entrepreneurs and Growing Your Economy, Workforce Development and Mechatronics, Technology and Broadband, and Live Green and Prosper." The conference was sponsored by USDA Rural Development, Tennessee Technological University College of Business Administration, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, homeownership and affordable rental housing in rural communities. During the last two years the agency assisted more than 1.5 million Tennessee families and busi-nesses, investing more than $1.3 billion through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants. More than 86% of these investments will be paid back with interest. The rest is at work creating jobs, broadening the local tax base and increasing opportunities in education, training, healthcare and public safety.
Tennessee Technological University College of Business hosts the annual conference. TTU is committed to meeting the need for economic development in Tennessee's rural areas, and the university is engaged in both basic and applied research. The College of Business, especially through the Business Media Center and the Small Business Development Center help transfer that research into real life applications for products and services locally and worldwide.
The University recently launched the new TECH-REDI (Regional Economic Development Institute) initiative, leveraging TTU resources to enhance the economic environment in the Upper Cumberland and surrounding region.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states at prices below the national average. TVA, which receives no taxpayer money and makes no profits, also provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists utilities and state and local governments with economic development. TVA Economic Development, working with distributors of TVA power, regional, state and community organizations, helped companies invest $4.3 billion in projects and add or retain 41,000 jobs across the region in fiscal year 2010.