TTU program helps state drop to its lowest number of distressed counties
Rural Reimagined is on the ground in 65 of Tennessee’s rural counties and has helped 200 small businesses in the last year alone, always at no cost to them.
Governor Bill Lee announced last week that the number of distressed counties in the Volunteer State has been reduced to eight, the fewest in Tennessee history, and part of the credit goes to a program launched in 2019 by Tennessee Tech University.
Named Rural Reimagined, the initiative leverages the full resources of the university to support the flourishing of Tennessee’s rural communities. Today, Rural Reimagined is on the ground in 65 of Tennessee’s rural counties, actively engaged in nine ongoing local tourism projects, and has helped 200 small businesses in the last year alone, always at no cost to them. Meanwhile, Tech students involved with Rural Reimagined have logged a collective 113,000 hours of volunteer service since the initiative began.
Rural Reimagined has actively helped seven distressed counties with plans in place to assist each of the state’s remaining distressed counties during the course of fiscal year 2024. The impact of Rural Reimagined is especially pronounced in the Upper Cumberland region that surrounds Tech’s campus where, since fiscal year 2019, Fentress, Jackson, and Morgan counties have been moved off the distressed counties list and DeKalb, Overton, and White counties have improved from “at-risk” to “transitional” counties.
Tennessee’s recently enacted fiscal year 2024 budget allocated $1 million for Rural Reimagined, a nod to its role as an invaluable partner in spurring new ideas and investment in the state’s most disadvantaged communities.