Governor Haslam, Commissioner Boyd Announce Creation of Rural Development Task Force

Monday, August 17, 2015 | 02:00pm

NASHVILLE—Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd announced today the creation of a Rural Development Task Force that will bring resources together from a wide range of organizations to advance rural communities and economic development throughout Tennessee.

“Tennessee’s rural communities are the heart of our state in so many ways, whether it’s our main streets, longstanding companies or as world-class tourist attractions, and we want to continue helping them thrive and grow,” Haslam said. “We’re pleased to announce this Rural Development Task Force, which will build on the work we’ve already been doing to create a measured, thoughtful approach to supporting economic development in our rural communities.” 

“Tennessee is experiencing tremendous economic momentum, but unfortunately our success is not shared in many of our rural communities,” Boyd said. “Many are still suffering and our state can only be great if all communities share in the success. At the Department of Economic and Community Development, we are doubling down on rural development efforts. However, to make a transformative difference, we need a holistic solution. It’s not just about recruiting a new business. It is about increasing educational attainment, supporting rural entrepreneurship, creating and promoting tourism, and of course, agri-business. Also, rural broadband is critical. Our new Rural Development Task Force brings together all key departments in state government along with our legislative leaders and many other public and private partners. The challenge is great, but so are the combined resources of this team. Together, we can make a major impact.”

The Rural Development Task Force will develop and adopt an initial three to four year strategic plan that will include a comprehensive vision for rural development. In order to do this, the taskforce will convene issues forums, identify and engage stakeholder groups and look to the successful ThreeStar program as a way to identify gaps, challenges and opportunities.

Ultimately, the taskforce will work to identify, design and implement highly effective programming to address key issues that impact rural life.

The Rural Development Task Force is comprised of:

  • Gov.’s Office: Will Cromer, Special Assistant for Strategy and Policy Director
  • Dolores Gresham: State Senator, Somerville
  • Ryan Williams: State Representative, Cookeville
  • Dept. of Agriculture: Commissioner Julius Johnson (Co-Chair)
  • Dept. of Tourist Development: Commissioner Kevin Triplett (Co-Chair)
  • Dept. of Economic & Community Development: Commissioner Randy Boyd (Co-Chair)
  • Dept. of Economic & Community Development: Amy New, Assistant Commissioner, Rural Development
  • Dept. of Transportation: Toks Omishakin, Deputy Commissioner
  • Dept. of Environment & Conservation: Dr. Shari Meghreblian, Deputy Commissioner
  • Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development: Commissioner Burns Phillips
  • Dept. of Education: Jayme Place, Chief of Staff
  • Dept. of Health: Commissioner John Dreyzehner
  • Dept. of Financial Institutions: Commissioner Greg Gonzales
  • USDA RD: Bobby Goode, State Director
  • TVA: John Bradley, Senior Vice President of Economic Development
  • Federal Grant Programs: Brooxie Carlton, TNECD Community Programs Director
  • University of Tennessee Public Service: Dr. Herb Byrd III, Interim Vice President
  • Farm Bureau: Lacy Upchurch, President
  • University of Tennessee Ag Extension: Dean Tim Cross
  • Tennessee Development District Association: Beth Jones, Treasurer/Secretary

 The taskforce will conduct its first meeting in September 2015.

About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

Tennessee was named 2014 and 2013 “State of the Year” for economic development by Business Facilities magazine. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community

Development’s mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. The department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. Find us on the web: Follow us on Twitter: @tnecd.  Like us on Facebook: