By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor
COOKEVILLE – It’s only the beginning. The Highlands Economic Partnership celebrated the launch of its public phase Wednesdsay after more than a decade since the organization was first launched.
Supporters and members of the organization’s steering committee were on hand Wednesday when it was announced the group is a little more than 70 percent of the way toward its fundraising goal of $2.85 million over a five-year campaign.
That money helps fund various programs that help boost the area’s continued community, economic, and workforce development.
“I would really challenge you all to not only meet your goal, but to blow past it,” said David Popen, principal with Convergent Nonprofit Solutions.
Earlier in the project, Convergent, a comprehensive solutions company, was tapped to assist with fundraising efforts for HEP.
“What we’ve seen is phenomenal progress; you’ve got an amazing staff,” Popen said. “Not every community is blessed with the type of staff that you have here in Cookeville and beyond. Tremendous leadership, that is really the key to economic development success and fundraising success … What really makes the difference is the leadership role in the political and private sector; and you have phenomenal leadership here.”
Popen says he considers the Highlands within the top-five percentile nationally as a community, an organization, and other factors.
The Partnership is a collaborative effort; a joint venture between Jackson, Overton, Putnam, and White counties that first launched in 2006 with the goal of boosting economic and community development in those four counties dubbed the Highlands.
“There is no way any community has four counties that work this well together,” said Zach Buckner, HEP vice president and development of communications. “We are so fortunate to have what we have … This is just the beginning.”
“This works – what you’re doing works,” said Denny Wayne Robinson, White County executive. “A win anywhere, profits everyone.”