NASHVILLE – Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Representative Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) announced today that the Tennessee House Representatives passed legislation aimed at giving rural counties in the state an economic boost. The Rural Economic Opportunity Act of 2016 passed unanimously. Representative Curtis Halford (R-Dyer) ushered the legislation through the process. Nearly three in ten Americans, and nearly half of all Tennesseans, live in a rural area or small city.
“I was proud to vote for this legislation today,” said Speaker Harwell. “Last year, I created a Task Force on Rural Economic Development, and this will greatly aid those efforts of making our rural communities more prosperous.”
The bill has two main parts. First, it implements a program called ‘Propelling Rural Economic Progress’ (PREP). This program allows grants from the PREP fund to be used to help rural counties build sites and infrastructure, making their communities more attractive to prospective companies. Second, the legislation would restructure the county tier system making it easier for businesses in rural counties to qualify for job tax credits. This, in turn, will make it easier for businesses in those counties to expand and hire new workers.
“Our rural communities are lagging behind other parts in the state economically, and this legislation will help remedy that,” said Representative Pody. “I’m proud of our elected officials coming together to aid rural counties as we all work to make the state more prosperous for all Tennesseans.”
More information about the legislation can be found here.