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February 14, 2024 | Tom Ballard

Three Economic Recovery Corps Fellows will work in Tennessee

One of the projects targets Tullahoma's Arnold Heritage and Innovation Center, the other two are multi-state efforts.

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and its partners have announced the first cohort of Economic Recovery Corps (ERC) Fellows and host communities, and communities in Tennessee are part of the work of three of the Fellows.

Authorized under the CARES Act and launched in 2023 through a $30 million cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the ERC program is designed to build capacity in some of the hardest-hit and most economically distressed areas across the U.S. while cultivating the next generation of economic development leaders.

On Monday, the 65 Fellows began their 30-month field placements with a four-day training and networking event in Portland, OR. After the conclusion of the event on Thursday, they will join their host organizations and spearhead catalytic projects that advance new ways of doing economic development to build more resilient, inclusive, and equitable economies.

The three Tennessee-related projects are as follows.

  • Beverly Lee of Tullahoma will use her military background, network, and Department of Defense experience to enhance opportunities for all groups in the Coffee County region. Specifically, working for the Tullahoma Area Economic Development Corporation, she will support something known as the Arnold Heritage and Innovation Center. Located in a Census tract with 32 percent poverty, it was identified as an opportunity to grow an inclusive workforce and increase the region’s economic resilience. Lee will serve as the primary liaison for aerospace and tech industries, recruiting firms, and entrepreneurs to identify, prioritize, and develop workforce development needs and strategies critical for an inclusive, community-informed entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • Sherrie Campbell of Eight Mile, AL is leading a three-state project for Communities Unlimited titled “Crossing State Lines, Building on Momentum!” The initiative aims to empower rural communities in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, building on the successful ConnectRURAL model’s pilot in East Texas, which enhanced local capacities by enabling communities to achieve place-based objectives driven by residents. The goal is to fortify rural regions, catalyzing locally-driven development for sustained growth and community well-being.
  • Fenika Miller of Warner Robins, GA was selected for the “Our Dollars, Our Dreams” campaign by the Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP) that is focused on equitable funding opportunities across the Southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia). As federal funding is allocated to communities across the nation—from broadband, climate action, microchips, and other investments—this project aims to empower Southern communities, organizations, and coalitions to secure these unprecedented resources. The ERC Fellow will support communities in building partnerships, creating equity frameworks, scoping projects, collecting data, grant strategies, and collaborating through peer-to-peer learning. With technical assistance, research support, community engagement, and facilitation, the fellow will drive strategies around bold, equitable goals and projects leading to the strategic advancement of communities’ efforts to secure federal funds, fostering economic progress across the American South and in communities less equipped to compete for federal funds.

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