ECD commissioner hands out $182,900 in awards



DISCUSSING TENNESSEE ECONOMICS – Carroll County officials discuss Tennessee economics with Tennessee ECD Commissioner Bill Rolfe during his visit to The Dixie on April 4. From left are County Mayor Kenny McBride, Commissioner Rolfe, Mayor Dale Kelley and Chamber President Brad Hurley.

Newly appointed State Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Bob Rolfe paid Carroll County a visit April 4 in a meeting at The Dixie to explain what is being done in the area of recruiting business and industry and discuss Tennessee’s overall economic growth.

While here, he and other state officials handed out checks to area cities and one county.

Benton County received a Tourism Enhancement award for $50,000 for the Patsy Cline Memorial. Paris was the recipient of a $32,900 Tourism Enhancement award to develop bathrooms at a downtown park.

The city of Dyersburg received a Main Street award of $50,000 and also a $50,000 Tourism Enhancement award.

The visit was a part of a state tour that Rolfe has embarked upon since being sworn in on March 1. He succeeds Randy Boyd who is planning on running for governor.

The ECD department is responsible for recruiting business and industry to the state as well as seeing after Tennessee’s overall economic growth.

Rolfe has more than three decades of experience in business and investment banking in Tennessee.

Before joining TNECD, he has held the position of CEO and chairman of Medical Reimbursements of America, Inc., a company that provides specialty reimbursement solutions to improve financial performance for hospitals and health systems nationwide.

He bragged on The Dixie during his visit.

“This is a tremendous asset to your town,” he said.

During Rolfe’s presentation, he discussed and presented figures and statistics related to jobs and industry.

“Among the things that ECD is providing are site development grants,” he said.

So far in 2017, 16 communities have received $6.2 million. In 2016, 15 communities received $5.7 million. In 2016 the Rural Economic Opportunity Act restructured the job tax credits, adding a fourth tier, and securing an additional $10 million for site development grants such as Main Street Entrepreneur grant, Tourism Enhancement grants, the Asset Based Planning Program and Asset Enhancement grants for distressed and near distressed communities.

Foreign direct investments in Tennessee have included: 927 foreign owned businesses, 127,846 Tennesseans employed at foreign-owned businesses, $33.8 billion total of foreign direct investments, 36 projects from foreign-owned businesses in 2016, 4,182 job commitments from foreign-owned businesses in 2016.

He said $140 million has been committed to the Memphis Regional megasite to date.

Concerning business development in the state, he said 54,425 total new jobs have been created over the last ten years. There have been $19.5 billion total new salaries over the last ten years.

Among the long term objectives of ECD include becoming the lowest unemployment rate in the southeast by 2025. It is the seventh lowest now, the commissioner said.

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