Inaugural Orange Carpet Tours
Governor Phil Bredesen and ECD Commissioner Matt Kisber joined local officials today at three ceremonies across the state to sign agreements acknowledging the communities' participation in the inaugural Orange Carpet Tour. The program is designed to acquaint veteran site selectors with development opportunities in Tennessee's rural communities and to give communities the opportunity to gather feedback from veteran business consultants.
"Each of these communities has demonstrated a willingness to collaborate and work together on a regional basis," Bredesen said. "At the end of this process, these communities will see how they are perceived by highly regarded site selection experts and how to use that knowledge to make themselves more competitive."
The signing ceremonies took place in Covington, Decherd and Rockwood. The initial round of Orange Carpet tours include five groups comprised of three counties each:
•Lauderdale, Haywood and Tipton Counties
•Lewis, Wayne and Lawrence Counties
•Coffee, Franklin and Lincoln Counties
•Clay, Pickett and Fentress Counties
•Morgan, Cumberland and Roane Counties
The tours, patterned after traditional economic development red carpet tours employed by many urban chambers of commerce, were announced as part of Bredesen's Rural Opportunity Initiative (ROI) in September. The ROI strategy is a three-pronged approach to increasing economic development efforts in the state's more rural areas. In addition to the tours, the initiative includes an expanded series of tax incentives for companies investing in rural communities with historically high unemployment and the Rural Opportunity Fund, a new source of capital available to rural Tennessee businesses.
The project involves a two-day, intensive site selection visit in which the communities will organize a full-scale, detailed presentation to the consultants. Upon conclusion, the consultants will provide community leaders direct feedback, including detailed information on strengths and weaknesses of the area, especially as they relate to those elements of most interest to relocating companies.
"The work won't end when the Orange Carpet Tour is over," said Commissioner Kisber. "Our department is ready to work with each of these communities to develop solid action plans based on the feedback they receive.
Commissioner Kisber said ECD will be working closely with nationally recognized consulting firms like Chicago-based Plante Moran to conduct the tours. Dates for each community's tour will be announced at a later time.