THREE-STAR STATUS – On hand for the designation of Weakley County as a Three-Star community by Gov. Bill Haslam recently were (from left) Jerry Brigance – Weakley County Economic Development Board; Jake Bynum – First State Youth Leadership and Leadership Weakley County Board of Directors chairman; Weakley County Chamber President Barbara Virgin, First State Youth Leadership and Leadership Weakley County Program Coordinator, member Weakley County Economic Development Board; Bill Hagerty – Commissioner of Department Tennessee Economic and Community Development; Haslam; Dr. Phil Young – UT Martin Hendrix Chair of Excellence, First State Youth Leadership Board of Directors; Blake Swaggert – Regional Director of Northwest Tennessee Economic and Community Development; and Jenna Hellums – assistant to Regional Director of Northwest Tennessee Economic and Community Development.
Nashville – Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty announced this week that Weakley County has achieved certification under the state’s Three-Star program for excellence in economic development.
“Weakley County‘s certification for the Governor’s Three-Star program is among many responsibilities the Weakley County Chamber of Commerce coordinates and facilitates throughout the year,” Barbara Virgin, executive director of the Weakley County Chamber of Commerce, said. “The Three-Star program either directly or indirectly impacts every citizen in Weakley County. Cooperation from our cities and county governments, special committees, business, organizations with total participation makes this program a success. The certification process is an annual project maintaining many hours of dedication and work. The Chamber collects data from the communities in areas of government, development, education, health, industry, business and leadership programs throughout the county, submits for review all paperwork to the Regional Economic Development Specialist. After an extensive annual audited review the report card results declare Three-Star certification,” she added.
According to the Chamber office, the county has participated in the Three-Star program for more than two decades. It was only within the last seven years, however, that the county has benefitted financially from the program.
The Three-Star program offers incentives toward Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and Fast Track grants.
The CDBG’s are used primarily for infrastructure and development of water and sewer lines.
Fast Track grants are used for the economic development and industry site expansion and recruitment.
The state department of economic and community development has granted approximately $6 million toward areas pertaining to site development; fire prevention; rail infrastructure; energy; Fast Track grants; ECD loans and CDBG, during the last seven years.
All cities (Dresden, Gleason, Greenfield, Martin, Sharon) and Weakley County are again eligible for Economic Community Development Grants including Downtown Development and Main Street.
A community must meet six basic requirement programs to qualify for certification: Adult Leadership program (Leadership Weakley County); Health Care Committee; Existing Industry; Education Committee; Enhanced Web Site, and Community Emergency Preparedness.
There are Three Benchmarks to achieve:
• Benchmark I – Assessment. Where are we?
• Benchmark II – Plan for the future. Where do we want to go?
• Benchmark III – Implement. Each benchmark is focused on actions in five key areas of development.
Weakley County must submit a five- year asset based strategic plan, establish priorities prepare effective measurable actions, responsibilities, estimate a timeline, endorse the plan, implement the plan and measure the outcome.
The Strategic Plan is an important direction and guideline for the community’s future actions.
The plan was recently approved by the Weakley County Commission for 2011.
The Strategic Plan can be obtained from the redesigned county website at www.weakleycountytn.gov.
“On behalf of the Weakley County Chamber, a sincere thank you to the cities, the Weakley County government, educational, health and economic development entities, programs and volunteers for the many hours of work and support of the Three-Star program over the years,” Virgin noted.
Virgin also serves as the Weakley County Three-Star Program Coordinator.