Local leaders react to Gov. Lee’s executive order supporting rural Tennessee

BOLIVAR, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Lee is carrying out his first executive order since taking office. Lee’s order will affect 15 economically distressed Tennessee counties.

“It means a lot to us when one of the first things that a governor does is takes a look, ‘OK, where can we be the most helpful in the state of Tennessee,'” said Eddie Crittendon, CEO of McNairy County Economic Development and Chamber of Commerce.

Less than a week after his inauguration, Gov. Lee announced his first executive order, which is to address transforming rural areas in Tennessee. McNairy and Hardeman counties were both on his list.

“It really means a lot to us that they take the initiative to understand that growth begins in the rural communities,” Crittendon said.

“Sometimes we sort of feel forgotten about when you talk about Tennessee, talk about the state, talk about the big three — Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville,” Bolivar Mayor Julian McTizic said.

Gov. Lee’s executive order requires each executive department to submit recommendations on how to help better those communities.

“Our whole main objective is to see people get a good, sustainable job,” Crittendon said.

“More economic development, more workforce training and more opportunities for us here in the rural communities to take advantage of,” Mayor McTizic said.

Leaders from both McNairy and Hardeman counties say they hope this executive order will help their communities long term.

“Ten years from now you will see McNairy County out of that distressed county designation and be one of the leaders in the region,” Crittendon said of his hopes for the executive order’s lasting effects.

“I’m very optimistic about the things that Gov. Lee has in store for rural communities,” Mayor McTizic said.

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