State leaders to hold local town hall on rural economic development

Rep. Ryan Williams.
Rep. Ryan Williams.

COOKEVILLE – Upper Cumberland residents are invited to a town hall meeting next week that’s part of a statewide effort to bring more attention to rural economic development issues.

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) announced the event Wednesday. It’s part of the “Speaker’s Task Force on Rural Economic Development,” created by Harwell in 2014 and chaired by Williams. The town hall, which will be held at the Bell Hall Nursing Auditorium at Tennessee Tech University, will take place at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12.

The mission of the Speaker’s Task Force on Rural Economic Development is to identify and recommend strategies to maximize the economic potential of Tennessee’s small cities and rural areas. By identifying barriers to economic growth and ascertaining strategic opportunities, the Speaker’s Task Force will develop and propose sustainable economic strategies to bolster the state’s economy, drive prosperity and improve the quality of life.

Nearly three in 10 Americans, and nearly half of all Tennesseans, live in a rural area or small city.

“Bringing state leaders together in this region and having a serious discussion about their strengths and the challenges they face, we can more effectively advocate for them at the state government level,” Harwell said in a release. “I am looking forward to finding long term solutions related to economic and workforce development.”

Besides chairing the Speakers Task Force, Williams is also chair of the House health subcommittee. He was elected to office in 2010.

“The members of the task force have met regularly during the legislative session, and now we’re holding a series of public events to have discussions with citizens across the state,” Williams said. “This will be an excellent opportunity to make your voice heard. I encourage anyone who is interested to come out to the Bell Hall Nursing Auditorium at Tennessee Tech to learn more about the initiatives we’re focused on, and give us input on those issues that matter to you.”

Event participants also include Ted Townsend, chief of staff, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; Brock Hill, deputy commissioner, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation; and James Snyder, coordinator, TN Promise Scholarship/ReConnect.

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