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Tennessee Shines Spotlight on Rural Communities

Marketing Assistance Program provides the tools these areas need to showcase themselves to companies thinking about relocating to Tennessee.

By Lindsey Hyde on July 26, 2022

For feature about digital resources in rural Tennessee communities

A number of rural communities across Tennessee have all the “bells and whistles” major companies often look for when choosing a region to relocate or expand. The issue, however, is many of these towns and cities are undermarketed.

To help address this problem, the state developed the Marketing Assistance Program in 2015, in which it aids rural communities in developing digital resources, such as custom photography and a promotional video, that they can use to catch the attention of corporate decision-makers, site selectors and other individuals.

Communities are chosen (often each year) from a pool of applicants that submit a form, noting things site selectors and corporate decision-makers would find advantageous about their town or city, including available site inventory, workforce and education, existing industries, well-known brands and quality of life.

Video Programs Help Communities

Several communities have greatly benefited from the digital resources since the program’s inception.

For example, Greene County, a 2017 program participant, uses the video for economic development and tourism purposes as well as to simply share more information about the county with individuals in the area, including parents and students who come to Tusculum University, a private Presbyterian university, for orientation.

“It’s a staple in the cupboard,” says Jeff Taylor, president and CEO of the Greene County Partnership. “For us to have had that access to that kind of funding to have that kind of quality production – we use it every time we can if we think it’s appropriate.”

See For Yourselves

Check out the videos mentioned in this article:
Greene County
Henry County
Lincoln County

Additionally, the program has made a difference in Lincoln County’s marketing efforts. A participant of the 2020-21 program, Elaine Middleton, executive director of the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Industrial Development Board, says COVID-19 made it difficult to showcase the community to site selectors because they didn’t have the resources to share information virtually.

“This video has allowed us to do that,” she says. “So, it’s allowed us to share with these folks – here’s the diverse manufacturing we have in our community, and oh, by the way, here is our quality of life.”

As for Henry County, another 2020-21 program participant, the promotional video has allowed officials to share with others their manufacturing base and quality of place as well as the success of their homegrown companies. It has especially helped Columbiad Fabrication, a company that specializes in precision metal fabrication.

“They’re a small company, don’t have a big marketing budget – things of that nature – so they really had a big presence on the video, which we were pleased with,” says Rob Goad, executive director of the Paris-Henry County Industrial Committee. “And they’ve used it to help them secure contractual work, so that was good.”

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