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Business Roundtable
Warren County's No. 1 booster
Pictured, from left, are Upper Cumberland Development District officials, assistant director Megan Choate, executive director Mark Farley, and communications coordinator Sarah Cunningham.

The Tennessee General Assembly created nine development districts 50 years ago with an emphasis on assisting rural communities with a broad range of services and funding options to achieve ongoing progress. Our district is as follows:

Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD)
1225 S. Willow Ave.
Cookeville, TN  38506

UCDD is a 60-person firm that has two broad service areas – aging and disabilities and economic community development (ECD).  Funds are drawn from federal, state, and local sources. 
UCDD brings unique skill sets to these service areas. With ECD, they have several experienced grant writers on staff, plus an experienced map maker, statistician, photographer, communications specialist, etc. These specialties are brought together to enhance proposals and strategies. Maps can be created with an aerial view, with “greens’ (trees, etc.), before/after, etc. This overall capability would normally not exist within smaller cities. 
UCDD aging and disabilities agency renders many services aimed at people 60 years or older and adults with disabilities. They operate a Resource Center with telephone service that served almost 1,300 seniors in the past fiscal year. They help administrate TennCare for seniors with disabilities.
UCDD assists with senior Medicare, supports senior centers, connects seniors and individuals with disabilities to transportation services (UCARTS), supports programs such as “Meals on Wheels,” offers state health insurance counseling, provide legal assistance, and actually perform as public guardians for certain seniors in need.
UCDD also operates an expanding portfolio of subsidized rental apartments and single resident homes. In Warren County, there are 14 senior apartment units at Golden Oaks in McMinnville, 23 rental apartment units at Beacon Light in Morrison aimed at migrant farm/nursery workers, and seven single resident homes.
UCDD covers 14 counties from Warren to the Kentucky border. This area involves over 5,000 square miles and 343,430 residents. The top ECD long-term goal is for workplace development and education. It’s interesting to note manufacturing jobs are rated the second highest average wages to mining and oil and gas. Recognized area ECD strengths are roads, financial resources, centralized U.S. location, the availability of higher education, and an established industrial base.
The key contacts at UCDD for economic development are:

Mark Farley, executive director
Megan Choate – ECD assistant director/ECD planner

In the ECD arena, UCDD does the following:
A. Economic Development  -  UCDD will coordinate and help steer ECD projects – get all state, local, and federal partners together; assist with RFIs from new industry; write grant proposals for site development; apply for TNECD Fast Track and/or TVA Invest Prep assistance; assist with local JECD and IDB meetings, etc. 
B. Geographical Information Systems  -  several services can be taken advantage of – mapping, database management, data analysis, custom outputs, etc.
C. Grant Writing and Administration – several on-staff grant writers will coordinate the creation of copy and presentation materials.  Past success includes community development block grants (much success in Warren County), Appalachian Regional Commission grants, EDA grants, etc. 
D. Historic Planning Services -  UCDD works with the TN Historical Commission, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, the Historical Markers Program, the National Register of Historic Places, etc. and funding available from these sources accordingly. 
E. Other service areas  -  UCDD does work with TN Main Street organizations, does assist with solid waste handling, and supports local planning services.

The website is being redone. That project is expected to be finished within the next 12 months. UCDD does maintain a Facebook page and offers an email newsletter. Videos are planned as a future marketing service. The overall operating budget for UCDD is $6 million annually.
The management at UCDD projects a key economic development advantage for Warren County is our proximity to the $2 billion a year R&D corridor between Huntsville, Arnold AFB, and the Oak Ridge Research Lab. Our ambition to expand Mechatronics and launch into advanced robotics training certainly fits that protocol.
The Upper Cumberland Development District is a happening place. UCDD offers a tremendous resource to Warren County – our past, present, and future. Interesting to note that County Executive Herschel Wells Sr., McMinnville Mayor Jimmy Haley, and IDB Director Don Alexander all serve on the UDCC Board of Directors. We are well represented. For any questions about the services UCDD offer, please contact its office at 931-432-4111.
BRAC thanks UCDD for being so dedicated to serve and willing to do just that.
This community asset should help to assure our 21st century progress continues.