NASHVILLE– The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) have partnered with local agribusinesses to initiate more than $40 million of economic activity through the Agriculture Enterprise Fund (AEF).
The AEF is an incentive program that supports job creation and economic growth by facilitating agricultural development in Tennessee.The program has provided nearly $2 million in cost-share assistance to new and expanding Tennessee agriculture, forestry, and food businesses, which has leveraged more than $38 million in investments.
“This program has directly led to the creation of more than 315 Tennessee jobs, and we’re going to continue that job growth in the areas that need it most,” Gov. Bill Lee said. “These strategic agribusiness investments are contributing to much more than the program recipients’ growth. They are providing pivotal opportunities for the local businesses, economies, and communities.”
Lee, along with TDA Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. and TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe, announced the seventh round of AEF grant recipients who will now have the opportunity to grow and positively impact rural economies.
“Since the AEF program started in 2017, it has provided funding assistance for nearly 50 projects throughout Tennessee,” Hatcher said. “With plans to further streamline the application processes, we will continue utilizing this program as an effective way to strengthen Tennessee’s agriculture and forestry businesses.”
Successful grant recipients must demonstrate a strong potential for impact on local farm income, access to markets, increased capacity, or agricultural innovation. Priority is given to businesses located in at-risk or distressed counties.
“Tennessee puts a major emphasis on promoting growth in our rural communities,” Rolfe said. “With programs like the Agriculture Enterprise Fund, we are continuing this growth by making sure our rural counties across the state are better equipped for economic and agricultural development. I look forward to seeing the accomplishments that will come from these recipients and wish them future success.”
The most recent AEF grant recipients and projects include:
- Baldwin Lumber, Fentress County – sawmill adding a wood chipper
- Cades Cove Cellars, Blount County – winery purchasing additional local fruit
- HKH Industries, Scott County – startup hemp processing facility
- Hughes Farms, Bledsoe County – adding cooler space to store produce
- Stony Creek Colors, Robertson County – increasing contracts for indigo farmers
- Tennessee Mills, Overton County – sawmill expanding to produce more pallets
- Todd Contracting, Van Buren County – sawmill expanding production of kiln-dried firewood
“We are truly honored to be selected as one of the recipients of the Agricultural Enterprise Fund for 2019,” Mark Case of HKH Industries said. “Our grant will be used to purchase specialized equipment to help Tennessee hemp farmers get their harvest to market, while also adding jobs in our local community. Thank you to Governor Lee, Commissioner Hatcher, and the teams at TDA and TNECD for working so hard to fill the need for farmer and community assistance in our area.”