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$225,000 awarded to region for existing technology initiatives

$225,000 awarded to region for existing technology initiatives
Gov.Phil Bredesen and Commissioner Matt Kisber, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, recently announced that the Southwest Tennessee Development District, which includes Obion County, is the recipient of a $225,000 Rural Technology Grant for Existing Technology Initiatives.
The SWTDD is one of only three applicants statewide to receive grant money to continue and extend previously funded regional technology research programs. 
“Successful economic development begins with solid community development. These grants supporting broadband and other technology initiatives will be instrumental in laying the groundwork for future growth and job creation in rural areas of our state,” Bredesen said.
“Approaching rural economic development with an innovative and out-of-the box mindset is critical if we want to see all of Tennessee grow and prosper,” Kisber said. “These grants are a unique way of encouraging and supporting the advancement of technology, which is good for not only individual communities, but our state as a whole.”
“In today’s world, access to technology means the difference between staying competitive and falling behind,” Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) said. “This Rural Technology Grant gives small Tennessee communities a seat at the table with much larger cities, leveling the playing field for educational and industrial development.”
“Rural Tennessee has a lot to offer, and Rural Technology Grants help our communities make the most of their potential,” Rep. Johnny Shaw (R-Bolivar) said. “We appreciate this investment and look forward to reaping the benefits of a continuing commitment to technology development and deployment.”
“Broadband proliferation and access to computers in schools and libraries is no longer a luxury, but a cornerstone of sustainable economic development,” Sen. Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) said. “I applaud the leaders of this community for recognizing the importance of technology and seeking out the vital assistance provided by the Rural Technology Grant.”
The $225,000 grant will be used to continue the West Tennessee Broadband Expansion, Adoption and Job Creation Program. Areas to be served by the grant include Chester, Decatur, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Madison, McNairy, Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henry, Lake, Obion and Weakley counties. 
The Southwest Tennessee Development District’s application has the support of Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, Rep. Johnny Shaw and Sen. Lowe Finney.
The Rural Technology Assistance Grants are for programs and services that increase technology usage and/or availability in rural counties. The grants will be allocated in two categories addressing existing initiatives and new initiatives separately. 
The New Initiatives Grant Category will allocate $1,500,000 to competitive grants that address expansion of broadband connectivity in rural counties, decrease K-12 student-to-computer ratios in rural counties or expand rural distance learning opportunities.
Applications for the New Initiatives Grant Category of the Rural Technology Assistance Grants must be received by the Department of Economic and Community Development by 4:30 p.m. Central on Sept. 10 and award announcements will follow on or before Sept. 15. 
Grant applications must be submitted to the Community Development division of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. An independent panel will evaluate the applications using a 100-point scale taking into account criteria such as project impact, number of citizens served, project sustainability and the ability of the applicant to implement the program’s goals.
Rules and requirements for the application process are available at the ECD Web site at Applications and supporting documents must be mailed to: Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Attn: Leslie-Joi Davis. 312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue North, 10th floor, Nashville, TN 37243. For more information, call (615) 741-2373.
Published in The Messenger 8.28.09

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