UTM representatives recently joined local, state and federal officials at a funding announcement for the City of Martin which received $60,000 in Rural Development assistance to help relocate the Regional Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (REED) Center.
“Rural Development understands the importance of rural business entrepreneurship,” said James Sanders, USDA Rural Development area director. “By serving as a resource to new entrepreneurs, this center will also help stimulate job growth in the region. I would like to acknowledge the participation of the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) in making this grant possible through set aside funds received from Rural Development. This application was selected for funding from among the many requests that were received by DRA.”
The City of Martin received a $60,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant to renovate a building in downtown Martin to house the REED Center. The new location will be easier to find, more centrally located in the heart of the business district and will provide a consulting office, seminar room, computer lab and resource library that will be available for REED Center clients.
The center was established by UTM and several partners in the region to serve existing and prospective entrepreneurs and support economic development in rural Northwest Tennessee. In particular, it will assist entrepreneurs with one-on-one consultations, interactive training programs and technical resources, encourage and support new small-business ventures and promote existing businesses.
Dr. Nick Dunagan, UTM chancellor, called the announcement of the grant “a positive step” aligned with state initiatives in economic development. He noted that the center is an example of the type of partnerships Gov. Phil Bredesen has promoted and will be an asset to regional economic development. He also cited the growth potential of local entrepreneurs who can get assistance from the REED Center.
“It’s all about partnerships,” said Dr. Tom Payne, UTM Dunagan Chair of Excellence in Banking. Payne said the center is a “catalyst to get new businesses off the ground. Small business – that’s where much of the action in job growth and economic development is going to be,” Payne added.
“This is an exciting time for the REED Center,” said Hollie Holt, REED Center coordinator. “Since our opening six months ago, we have assisted more than 60 aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout the West Tennessee area. That wouldn’t have happened without the support and partnership of our local banks, USDA Rural Development and our university that have allowed this center to get established. We look forward to making our communities a better place to live by helping to create jobs and new opportunities.”
The grant is funded through Rural Development’s business program which provides assistance to public bodies or not-for-profit entities to finance and facilitate development of private business enterprises and improve community infrastructure such as roads, streets and utilities.
Participants in the check presentation ceremony included: Brad Thompson, field representative for U.S Rep. John Tanner; Mayor Brundige; Chancellor Dunagan; Holt; Payne; Dr. Phillip Young, Hendrix Chair of Excellence in Free Enterprise; Sam Lewallen, First State Bank community bank president; Paula Lovett, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development/grants program management; and Van Wylie, area specialist, and Sanders, area director, USDA Rural Development.
REED Center partners include First Citizens National Bank and First State Bank. Supporter is Reelfoot Bank, and Friends include First Choice Office Equipment, Office Products, Regions Bank, Tennessee Small Business Development Centers and USDA Rural Development.