Jackson County brings back economic development board

GAINESBORO – Jackson County recently restructured its Joint Economic and Community Development Board, and community leaders say the move will better position their community for potential grant funding and future commercial opportunities.

The JECDB committee consists of local government officials and both public and private sector representatives. Members include County Mayor James Kinniard, City Mayor Lloyd Williams, County Commissioner Troy York, Jackson County Chamber of Commerce representative Sam Petty, Alderman John Cassetty, Alderman Travis Agee, Alderman Jacob Stafford, business owner Bryan Haney, greenbelt owner Patrick Martin, citizen Alice Barlow and citizen Frank Hardegree. The committee will also include another county commissioner yet to be named.

With representation from the county’s major organizations, the board is taking a unified approach to lead the City of Gainesboro and Jackson County in future economic development efforts, said Michelle Price, economic and community development specialist with the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD), who has been serving as an ex-officio member of JECDB.

“This revitalized JECDB can be the central organization relating to the economic and community development of Jackson County,” Price said. “The vision is to make the county more attractive to new residents while making it irreplaceable for the current.”

Each community must have a functioning JECDB committee in order to apply for state grant funding. In the past, Community Development Block Grants and the HOME Program have allowed the county to extend water lines and complete home rehabilitation projects. With a functioning JECDB in place, Jackson County is now eligible to apply for additional state dollars.

With the focused efforts of the restructured JECDB, the committee is seeking out opportunities to increase the county’s marketability, attract new investment, foster a quality lifestyle for the community, and capitalize on future economic development opportunities to bring in more jobs. Price and other UCDD staff members will be assisting with different aspects as needs and opportunities are identified by the committee.

The committee’s momentum is picking up with plans already in the works for 2016. Identified as an action step in the new year, the City of Gainesboro will be submitting an application for the Tennessee Downtowns Program, which is designed to enhance downtown revitalization. The JECDB committee is also proposing three additional Adventure Tourism Districts, which will be sent for state approval in the spring.

The JECDB committee also seeks community input. Community discussion meetings will be held starting in the spring as the committee works on a 10-year county plan. More information will be released about these meetings in the next couple of months.

Regular JECDB committee meetings will be held bi-monthly on the third Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. at city hall.


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