Loudon County Economic Development Agency is working on a study officials hope could help plan for the community’s future.

Utilizing a $50,000 ThreeStar grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, EDA plans to hire a firm for a data-driven, county-wide economic impact study to address growth.

Loudon was one of 54 counties in Tennessee to get the grant.

“This study is a data-driven approach to assess several community factors and provide recommendations for sustainable growth,” Jack Qualls, EDA executive director, said in an email correspondence. “Workforce, for example, is regional and cannot be looked solely from the county level because employees are willing to commute for higher paying wages.

“... Growth is not always wanted or accepted with open arms; however, the truth of the matter is growth will happen,” he added. “This study will provide an unbiased, data-driven resource for the leaders in our community that choose to review it and use the data with a positive outlook. The goal of this study is to assist in policy- and decision-making that impacts the future of the community.”

The scope of the study includes demographics, economic stability, housing, education, community livability, manufacturing sectors and land use and zoning.

A vendor will be awarded on or before Dec. 1.

Qualls expects the study to take at least five or six months.

“I know that there are several other counties around the state that are experiencing growth,” David Meers, county commissioner, said. “Having some kind of plan and looking at it and utilizing it, hopefully that will give us a guiding point for what we need in the future.”

Meers, who has been a proponent of the study, said a firm looked at school growth several years ago, but he couldn’t remember one that addressed the county as a whole.

“I think at that time it was based on what the schools needed and now we have something that we can put our teeth in and do some planning on that will help us five, 10, 15 years down the road, hopefully,” he said.

Gary Whitfield, county commissioner, said he believes the study could be beneficial, acknowledging there isn’t much information available right now.

“I guess the thought process is that it’s a grant that’s available for us and I think that we should take advantage of it,” Whitfield said. “Also it gives us some really good information that we can make some educated guesses and have some real data in front of us that shows what folks that do this for a living can put in front of county commission.”

Henry Cullen, county commissioner, agreed.

“The problem is nobody knows what the outcome is going to be or what it’s going to encompass,” Cullen said. “I think it could help out, but we won’t know a lot until it’s finished. But could it help the county? Probably will, but I don’t know for sure how it will impact the county.”

Trending Recipe Videos