Joining us for the noon luncheon were members of the Chattanooga Area Regional Council of Governments and the Southeast Tennessee Human Resources Agency (SETHRA). The annual gathering is a time for the Development District and SETHRA to present their annual reports to their respective memberships and conduct any business that may be pending before the two organizations.
The SETDD annual report highlighted many accomplishments during the past year and shows how the staff worked closely with local governments and elected officials to improve the economic environment in the region. SETDD plays a critical role in facilitating local planning and helping us identify priorities for each community.
The Southeast Tennessee Development District is composed of more than 60 elected officials. Many of them serve in small communities that do not have the funds to pay a staff to do the necessary planning for economic and community development, infrastructure needs, tourism promotion, housing, transportation and much more. The SETDD staff fills that void.
It was a distinct honor for me to be elected chairman of the Southeast Tennessee Development District/Chattanooga Area Regional Council of Governments for 2010/2011. To be chosen by one's peers from among so many qualified individuals is a humbling experience. This is an exciting opportunity to serve not only Bradley County, but the governments and citizens in our 10-county region.
The highlight of the joint meeting this year was a visit by Bobby Goode, state director of USDA-Rural Development. Bobby explained how the state USDA office is committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural Tennessee.
USDA-RD programs support essential services such as water and sewer systems, housing, health clinics, emergency service facilities, and electric and telephone service. The department also promotes economic development by supporting loans to businesses through banks, credit unions and community-managed lending pools.
At the conclusion of his remarks, Bobby presented the Development District with a USDA grant in the amount of $750,000. The money will be used for economic development gap loans to small businesses. It was my privilege to join SETDD Director Beth Jones in accepting the check on behalf of the rural communities throughout the region.
I look forward to my tenure as chairman of SETDD and am confident it will continue to be a vital force in helping local governments plan for the future.
For information about the Southeast Tennessee Development District visit the website at www.sedev.org.