Economic growth focus of alliance

Economic growth focus of alliance

By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Without revealing any specific details, officials with the Ken-Tenn Regional Alliance have announced plans to promote economic development in the region.
In the simplest of terms, economic development agencies across northwest Tennessee and southwest Kentucky represent the team and the KTRA serves as the region’s cheerleading squad.
The alliance held a news conference in the University Center on the University of Tennessee at Martin campus Monday morning. The 45-minute meeting appeared to serve as a launchpad for the agency’s mission to promote economic development in the region.
The Ken-Tenn Regional Alliance covers Weakley, Obion and Lake counties in northwest Tennessee and Fulton, Hickman and Carlisle counties in Kentucky. Fulton County Judge Executive David Gallagher is the KTRA chairman and Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire is the secretary/treasurer of the organization.
The Ken-Tenn Regional Alliance was formed in February 2011.
Hollie Holt was hired as the director of the alliance in September 2012 and she brings a wealth of economic development experience with her as she focuses on marketing the entire six-county region.
Gallagher was joined at Monday’s meeting by several economic development officials from across the region and officials with four of the six counties that are members of the alliance.
Obion County Joint Economic Development Corporation economic director Lindsay Frilling was Obion County’s lone representative at Monday’s meeting.
“We’re really excited about the Ken-Tenn Regional Alliance,” Mrs. Holt said.
Gallagher explained the organization has been working with a consultant “to help evaluate ourselves.”
He explained the organization’s goal is to promote the region’s “common assets,” such as the Mississippi River, I-69 and the region’s rail access.
“We want to bring attention to the region as a whole,” Gallagher said. “We have a lot of good things going on.”
Gallagher said the alliance plans to expand its board of directors in an attempt to involve more officials from across the region.
“The more eyes that we have on this region, the better off we are,” Gallagher said.
“Hollie is going to be the one getting the story out there,” Martin Mayor Randy Brundige said at the meeting. “One of her jobs is to keep the message out there.”
The KTRA will not be directly involved in economic development, but will serve as a regional resource center and will work on connecting economic development officials from across the region.
“The KTRA was formed out of a specific need to address pressing issues including high unemployment and resulting high poverty levels, the need for improved infrastructure and declining population,” a handout provided at the Monday’s meeting states.
The four-page summary of the agency’s strategic action plan uses terminology such as “strategic initiatives,” “positive messaging” and “regional assets.” The KTRA strategic plan identifies four target industrial sectors — food processing, plastics, agricultural equipment and auto parts.
The organization’s next scheduled meeting is set for 10  a.m. June 12 at the Carlisle County Courthouse in Bardwell, Ky.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenger 5.21.13

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