DYERSBURG, Tenn., Jan 17, 2013 -- In turbulent economic times, stabilizing a rural local economy takes a keen eye and the ability to leverage existing resources. Faced with an increasingly high unemployment rate, exacerbated by the departure of long established manufacturing operations, Dyer County officials took action.
The results of their work were recognized Wednesday with the presentation of the 2012 Rural Development Award for outstanding Local Programs. The annual award is made by the Tennessee Rural Development Committee (TRDC), a federal/state multi-agency partnership that works to coordinate programs for economic development in rural communities.
"Small business is the economic engine of rural communities, creating jobs and helping maintain a healthy, diversified local economy," said TRDC 2013 Chair Bobby Goode. "Dyer County officials have taken outstanding steps to build up resources and infrastructure that support small business development, including farms and ranches, and have set the bar high for other communities."
Dyer County thrives on its agri-business segment with more than 230,000 acres under cultivation. Soybean, grain sorghum, wheat, corn and cotton production pump more than $136 million into the local economy. However, the county government does not focus only on farm and farm-related economic activity.
The county continues to focus on improving the local economy while also planning for the future. Programs such as Dyer County Leadership prepare adults and youth for leadership positions in business and the community. The opening this week of the new McIver Grant Library and the ongoing downtown revitalization project, including River Park, will draw more visitors and locals to the business district.
The Tennessee Rural Development Committee includes the state heads of the USDA: Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Forestry Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service; Tennessee Department of Agriculture; Tennessee State University Extension; and University of Tennessee Extension. Recent prior winners of this award include McNairy County 2011, Montgomery County "The Gathering" 2010, Henry County 2009, Bolivar Farmers Market 2008, Chickasaw-Shilo RC&D Council 2007 and Lawrence County Council of Community Clubs 2006.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, community development, homeownership and affordable rental housing to improve the economic health of rural communities. During the last four years the agency has assisted at least 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 158 communities, investing more than $3.3 Billion into local economies through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in northwest Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office in Union City at 731-885-6480 ext. 4, toll free at 800-342-3149 ext. 1497 or visit us online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.
Participants in the event included Tn Dept of Agriculture Asst. Commissioner Joe Gaines, State Rep. Bill Sanderson, Sen. Lamar Alexander's Field Representative Matt Varino, Rep. Stephen Fincher's Field Representative Hannah Wade-Powell, USDA RD Specialist Van Wylie, Dyer County Extension Agent Tim Campbell, FSA CED Don Smith, Dyer County Extension Agent Beth Bell, USDA RD Assistant to State Director Bob Connelly, (holding award) Dyer County Mayor Richard Hill and TSU Dean Dr. Latif Lighari, Dyersburg/Dyer County Main Street Director Steve Guttery, DSCC VP Dr. Kay Patterson , DSCC President Dr. Karen Bowyer, NRCS State Conservationist Kevin Brown, USDA RD Area Director Harriet Cannon, DSCC VP of Institutional Advancement Youlanda Jones-Wilcox, Friends of McIver Grant Library Board Member Carol Harris, TSU Extension Agent William Taylor, Senator Bob Corker's Field Representative Nick Kistenmacher.
Dyer County officials have been awarded the 2012 Rural Development Award for outstanding Local Programs. The annual award is made each year by the Tennessee Rural Development Committee, a federal/state multi-agency partnership that works to coordinate programs for economic development in rural communities. According to Committee Chairman Bobby Goode, Dyer County officials have taken outstanding steps to build up resources and infrastructure that support small business development, support sustainable economic growth and improve the quality of life in the region.