Southeast TN Development District

Sep 29 - mkamplain
Our County
D. Gary Davis
County Mayor

For Tuesday 09/29/2015

This past week we discussed the need and the benefits of being prepared for situations and emergencies not only personally, but as a community, state and a nation. This is very important and requires multiple approaches to reach a lofty goal such as we have set in Bradley County. The honor of serving as Bradley County Mayor has many responsibilities and also rewards. One of the opportunities that encompasses both a responsibility and a reward is the opportunity to serve again as chairman of the Southeast Tennessee Development District. This group of concerned public officials and professionals represent multiple counties across the southeast portion of Tennessee.

This past year was the first time that our annual report was presented electronically and it was titled "Gearing Communities for Prosperity”. Two of the multiple highlights were detailed in the report but two that held regional and Bradley County significance were the Smart Communities Initiative and a Brownsfield Coalition Grant. This past year our region competed for and was selected by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to be awarded their Smart Communities Initiative. Through this service learning partnership, our region will have access to some of the brightest and talented graduate level students who will provide additional capacity to engage in real world problems identified by our local governments aimed at increasing the level of economic vitality, environmental sustainability and the social integrity of the region. Some of you may remember seeing multiple students across different areas recently working on solutions locally for the downtown area of Cleveland. These students were part of this group and it is beneficial for a new and different perspective to be taken into the decision making process and this is part of that process. Another new initiative awarded this year was the $500,000 from the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) that will enable us to assess and prioritize brownfields for development. These are just two examples of how our staff at the Development District continues to position people and places throughout our region to enhance the quality of life, economic well being and to take advantage of every opportunity.

There is no way that one report or article can capture the accomplishments of the staff during this past year, but a few highlights are listed below.
More than 1,000 Workforce Investment Act participants were served. 13 regional manufacturers found assistance with "on the job” training and also coordinated a workforce work experience for 128 youth across our region. The Career and Workforce Development staff helped to develop the winning grant proposal that secured $946,280 from the State of Tennessee’s Labor Education Alignment Program to reinstitute technical education in advanced manufacturing processes in 7 high schools across 4 counties including Bradley County High School. The Area Agency on Aging and Disability staff more than doubled the number of one-on-one free, unbiased insurance counseling appointments about Medicare and related insurance programs. And the information and referral services professionals assisted 9,653 individuals with outreach, education, connections to community resources and access to home and community based services.

Further proof of another record year includes the planning staff with our Community and Economic Development that were kept busy both night and day. They provided technical assistance to 24 local governments, developed a new Heritage tourism guide, launched a new regional tourism website, and rehabilitated 37 houses in an effort to continue in their efforts to preserve historical assets. And in their spare time, wrote, applied for and won multiple grants including 16 Community Development Block Grants totaling over $9 million. These funds that were secured will help 95,663 people, including many in Bradley County as we received a $525,000 grant. These funds will help all through providing new water lines, improved water and wastewater systems and community livability projects. The SEIDA Economic Development staff responded to 67 prospect inquiries, facilitated 13 prospect visits, 6 new locations and 19 expansion projects that resulted in new capital investments totaling $1.5 billion along with the creation and/or retaining of 5,676 jobs for this region we call home.

As our board of elected officials would proclaim, that we are forever grateful for the staff we have in place that works diligently and tirelessly in cooperation with many public and private partners to move our region toward further prosperity. This cooperation is not only important across our region it is vital to the continued health and prosperity of Bradley County as well. The continued ability to represent Bradley County first, and our region second places me in contact with and locations to further the success of both: Bradley County & South East Tennessee Development District. This ability combined with the support of citizens, business, professionals and other elected officials all working for the same purpose ensure that Bradley County will always continue to be Tennessee at its best!

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