Gov. Bill Haslam visits West Tenn. to talk rural economic growth

HUNTINGDON, Tenn. — A full house watched as Gov. Bill Haslam signed the “Rural Economic Opportunity Act” Friday morning in Huntingdon.

Haslam Rural Signing2“The economy is humming,” Haslam said in his opening remarks. “More Tennesseans have a job today than have ever had a job in the history of the state.”

The governor said the bill is designed to help bring economic progress to Tennessee’s rural communities.

“I don’t think it’s any secret some of our more rural counties in the west are still struggling for job growth, and we wanted to come make this point so that everybody knows this fund is available,” Haslam said. “Let’s make certain that we get this money to work.”

The bill will help fund grants to rural communities to develop industrial sites, enhance tourism and improve their communities, something state economic officials say will help areas grow.

“There are people in need today,” commissioner for Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development Randy Boyd said. “We’re going to be having a competitive grant for the sites. We’ll also have grants for the tourism and also competitive grants for the entrepreneur incubators.”Haslam Rural Signing

State officials said signing the bill isn’t necessarily just bringing jobs to rural areas in West Tennessee but also laying the foundations for economic growth.

“We don’t make the jobs, but we can make the area be conducive for people to want to come here, to see us, to be interested in what we’re doing,” State Rep. Curtis Halford said.

Some counties here in West Tennessee are already receiving the benefits of the bill signed Friday.

Last week, Humboldt and Gibson County received $900,000 in grants from the Rural Economic Opportunity Act.

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