Cumberland County is one of 59 counties in Tennessee that have been awarded one of the states Three Star Grants. Cumberland County was approved to receive a $50,000 grant.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe recently announced that 59 counties would receive Three Star grants.

Earlier this year the Cumberland County Joint Economic Community Development Board outlined its top goals for workforce development, economic growth and industry recruitment as part of the Three Star grant application. The program offers up to $50,000 in grant funding in a two-year period to focus on the goals identified by the joint board.

The board includes representatives from the city of Crossville, county government, local industry, businesses and private citizens. 

Crossville Mayor James Mayberry said, “This year was harder and encompasses a two-year reward. It amounts to excellent help from the state to improve some of the livability of our community.”

Malena Fisher with the city of Crossville explained this year’s grant application required the board to conduct an inventory of local assets and use that to determine priorities. The goals for the application had to be “specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely,” — or SMART.

The first goal is to launch a new workforce program that will utilize local resources such as Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Roane State Community College and the University of Tennessee Extension Service as well as other local organizations and groups.

The program would provide quarterly classes for potential and new business owners to outline steps required for starting a business. It would also work to facilitate more school-community partnerships, building on the program currently in place at Martin Elementary with the Crossville First United Methodist Church. The goal is to expand that program to four of the county’s nine elementary schools by September and to all schools by February 2020.

The second goal is to conduct an infrastructure evaluation to facilitate community and economic development and determine areas of need, with a plan of action developed by December 2020.

The third goal is to develop a regional marketing plan for the city of Crossville, Cumberland County and the Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce to better market available industrial sites.

“We’re excited about the new structure and this grant award,” Fisher said. “I’m personally anxious to start implementing it.”

The Crossville City Council approved the grant application during its July 9 meeting and will administer the grant funds.

This is the third year the community has been awarded a Three Star Grant, with increasing amounts each year. 

In total, TNECD is awarding $2.4 million in funding to Tennessee communities through this round of the Three Star grant program.

The grants will be used for a variety of local community development initiatives, including education, workforce development, health, entrepreneurship and economic development programs, among others that are prioritized by the communities.

“These 59 Three Star grants will help counties all across Tennessee invest in vital community development initiatives,” Lee said. “I’m eager to see these programs strengthen the quality of life, access to workforce training programs, and economic opportunities for our residents in rural Tennessee.”

“The Three Star grant program has a proven track record of success, and I’m pleased to announce this year’s grant recipients,” Rolfe said. “TNECD is proud to assist communities that are committed to improving their workforce readiness and quality of life with these types of innovative local programs.”

Three Star promotes economic and community prosperity through collaboration to positively impact every Tennessean. For the third time in the past four years, all 95 Tennessee counties gained Three Star certification.

To be eligible for Three Star grants, each county must meet all Three Star certification requirements, develop an asset-based strategic plan and design a program to implement a goal from its strategic plan. The 59 counties were selected out of 78 applications.

Cumberland County has been a recipient of Three Star Grants for several years.

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