Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe have announced that 59 counties will receive $2.4 million of taxpayer money for various community development initiatives.
State officials are disbursing this money through what is known as a ThreeStar grant program. These community development initiatives include local workforce training, health, and economic development initiatives, according to an ECD press release.
The Tennessee Star contacted officials in 10 of the 59 counties and asked how they plan to use this money. We also asked whether this investment of money will exceed the benefits to taxpayers.
Of the 10, officials in only four of those counties responded.
Grundy County Mayor Michael Brady said he oversees “a distressed, rural community” and he and other county officials will use the $50,000 they receive to offer workforce development classes.
“We used that money before to buy equipment, and we started a welding program after hours for adults and our high school graduated 12,” said Brady, whose county currently has about a 7 percent unemployment rate,” Brady said. “I know of at least five of those folks that found employment after they graduated.”
Meanwhile, in Wilson County, ThreeStar Coordinator Susan Shaw said in an emailed statement that the $40,250 they receive will pay for a workforce development project to better prepare students for the local job market.
“The investment of this grant will benefit county residents with higher employment levels, better talent retention within the county, improved productivity, and overall making Wilson County more attractive to employers as we continue to grow,” Shaw said.
Elsewhere, Anderson County Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Janet Hawkins said the $20,000 the state gave her county will help middle schoolers and high schoolers.
“The grant provides transportation to advanced manufacturing, the “Get Hired” event for all eighth graders, industry visits for sixth graders, as well as higher education visits such as the Roane State Clinton Higher Education Training Facility in Clinton and others for 12th graders,” Hawkins said. “We also hope to include a career fair for middle schoolers and high schoolers. We will be documenting with quarterly reports to the TN ThreeStar director outlining the number of students, the activity and the impact.”
Overton County will receive $50,000 of taxpayer money.
Overton County Executive Ben Danner told The Star in an email that he and other county officials will use that money to start an HVAC and plumbing program.
The ECD’s website has a list of all the other counties that got taxpayer money.
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