The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) announced the launch of “IDEA” as a state-federal partnership initiative with the Appalachian Regional Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
IDEA is an acronym for “Ignite Downtown Economic Action.” IDEA will help designated Main Street economic development programs in Tennessee set effective and sustainable objectives.
There are 27 Main Street communities in Tennessee, and IDEA will provide each participating community with an assessment and a set of recommendations based on the Four Point model (design, economic restructuring, organization and promotion) that the National Main Street Center offers.
To be specific, the National Main Street Center has asked Barman Development Strategies, LLC to help each Main Street community identify its downtown strengths, market position and existing development needs or opportunities.
To this end, there will be public workshops held in each community throughout the rest of the year.
TNECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty said they were pleased to partner with the USDA and the Appalachian Regional Commission on this innovative and exciting new program, which he said was a welcome addition to the efforts that the Main Street communities are already making on a daily basis for furthering economic development.
Tennessee Main Street Director Todd Morgan likewise noted that Main Street programs work with entrepreneurs and small businesses every day, and IDEA will help these programs create downtown environments conducive for successful businesses and job creation.
The TNECD, USDA and ARC are together putting up $121,500 for the IDEA Initiative.
USDA Rural development State Director Bobby Goode said the amount of money invested for each town may seem pretty small, but they will be leveraging each other’s strengths by working together at the local, state and federal levels to take this next step and future steps that grow out of plans each community makes as a result of the IDEA Initiative.
In 2012, designated Main Street communities in Tennessee created 604 new jobs and generated more than $82 million in public/private investments.
During the last four years, USDA Rural Development has invested more than $3.7 billion into Tennessee’s local economies through grants, loan guarantees and loans that have helped 1.5 million families and businesses in 158 communities.
The ARC is a regional economic development agency formed as a federal, state and local government partnership, and is composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair.
TNECD is the main Tennessee economic development agency tasked with developing strategies to make Tennessee the top location in the Southeast for quality jobs.