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USDA Rural Development Announces Three Funding Awards for the University of Tennessee at Martin

Sherri McCarter
Release Date
Sep 15, 2016

MARTIN, Tenn., Sept. 15, 2016 —USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Goode along with Interim Chancellor Bob Smith today announced three funding awards for the University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM). The university will receive a total grant amount of $130,000.

“The three funding awards presented today illustrate the impact that UTM has on West Tennessee,” Goode said. “These awards will provide the funds necessary to assist the university in creating a stronger rural economy for the areas they serve.”

As a recipient of Rural Business Development Grants totaling $30,000, UTM will use $10,000 of RD funds to conduct an economic impact analysis that will be used to determine the impact the university has on the rural regions of West Tennessee.  The study will focus on the specific economic impact in Weakley County.  $20,000 of the grant will be used to conduct leadership and entrepreneur training for the WestStar Leadership Program. This program serves all 21 counties in West Tennessee, many of which are poverty stricken and have high unemployment, and provides participants with new leadership skills and strategies for assisting their communities in problem solving and creating economic opportunities.

Lastly, UTM will receive a $100,000 Community Facilities Direct Grant to provide the requisite supplies and equipment necessary for the commercial culinary program. This will include catering and food lab space for the UT Martin Hospitality and Food Service Management curriculum. 

Others participating in the event include Senator Lamar Alexander Field Representative Matt Varino, Congressman Stephen Fincher Field Representative Heather Waggoner, Weakley County Mayor Jake Bynum, Northwest Tennessee Development District Executive Director John Bucy, WestStar Director Charley Deal and Virginia Grimes, Dr. Todd Winters, USDA Assistant to State Director Harriet Cannon, USDA Area Director Joel Howard, USDA Area Specialists Tyler Hayes and Brandon Orr.

USDA Rural Development is moving investments to rural America with housing, business and infrastructure loans and grants to create jobs and strengthen rural economies with an emphasis to assist areas of persistent poverty.  Since 2009, the agency has assisted more than 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 230 communities in all 95 counties of Tennessee, investing more than $6.6 billion through affordable loans, loan guarantees, and grants.

For more information on USDA Rural Development programs available in Northwest Tennessee contact the Union City Area Office at 731-885-6480 x 4.  Visit us online at www.rd.usda.gov/tn.