UC communities chosen for Tennessee Retail Academy

29 communities selected to participate in 2020 event

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development has partnered with Retail Strategies, LLC to offer the Retail Academy to 29 communities from across Tennessee, including Gainesboro, Jamestown and Sparta.

The Tennessee Retail Academy program is designed to educate city leaders on retail and business recruitment, real estate and small business support. Retail Academy is made possible to cities that are awarded a grant through TNECD and USDA. The event is scheduled for August 13-14 in Franklin.

“As communities continue to combat the coronavirus pandemic, retail and small businesses will need additional support, and communities will be called on to help those businesses. We are pleased to provide the Retail Academy program for Tennessee communities,” TNECD Assistant Commissioner of Community and Rural Development Sammie Arnold said. “This program can help communities identify where their sales tax revenues have fallen and develop strategies to help their retail businesses recover. Over the last four years, we have seen our communities successfully implement retail recruitment strategies, and I’m confident this can help our communities as they retail world experiences vast changes from COVID-19.”

Eighty-eight Tennessee communities have gone through the program since the Retail Academy and TNECD partnership began. In 2019, the program’s estimated economic impact was 74 new businesses, approximately 1,000 jobs and $14.2 million in local and state tax revenue.

The grants awarded by TNECD and USDA fully fund participation in the Retail Academy. Developed by Retail Strategies, the Retail Academy program educates communities on best practices to attract new retail businesses and restaurants, while providing resources to support and grow existing local businesses.

“We are honored to continue this program with TNECD and the USDA and recognize the importance of city leaders focusing on growing the business base in their communities, as well as focusing on helping small businesses that have been affected by the pandemic,” said Lacy Beasley, president of Retail Strategies. “When we started this program in 2015, it was designed for rural communities to invest in retail as a catalyst for economic development throughout the state. We couldn’t be more excited to be the partner for so many communities across the state of Tennessee through this event.”

The Retail 101 course is an introduction to retail recruitment. Eight communities will complete the introductory program, including Centerville, Fayetteville, Harrogate, Rogersville, Sewanee, Unicoi, Waverly and White House.

The Retail Academy 201 is a deep dive into real estate and potential commercial development within each community. Atoka, Bells, Hartsville, Humboldt, Paris, Roane County, Sweetwater and Union City will participate in the intermediate course.

Retail Academy 301 focuses on downtown and small business support. Participating communities include Alamo, Covington, Dunlap, Dyersburg, Gainesboro, Greeneville, Lewisburg, and Sparta.

New this year, TNECD is launching a Destressed Community Pilot Initiative in partnership with Retail Strategies. The pilot initiative will allow communities who have been through all three phases of the Retail Academy program to continue engagement with Retail Strategies’ team of professional retail consultants for further, in-depth retail recruitment services. Jamestown, Tracy City and Waynesboro make up the small community initiative; Ripley was chosen for the medium-sized initiative; and Cocke County was awarded funds for the county initiative in commercial development.

2020 Participating Communities

Retail Academy 101








White House

Site Strategies 201






Roane County


Union City

Downtown Strategies









Pilot Initiative

Cocke County



Tracy City


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