Seated, from left, Clint Voils, RCIDA Chairman; Mark Mason, USDA Rural Business Specialist. Standing, Gary Robertson, Russell County Judge-Executive; Bennie Garland, RCIDA Executive Director; Judy Keltner, Community & Economic Development Director LCADD.
Business owners considering Russell County as a location will soon have important data they need to make an informed decision, and existing businesses will have more tools at their fingertips to help with expansion.
The Russell County Industrial Development Authority has received a $40,000 Rural Business Development Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to support the completion of a retail feasibility study and workforce analysis to guide local business recruitment efforts. The economic and demographic information collected will provide detailed insight into what types of businesses could profitably operate in Russell County, and assist existing industries with growth efforts.
“We want business owners to feel completely at ease in their decision to locate in Russell County,” RCIDA Executive Director Bennie Garland said. “With this data, we can show them they will be profitable and have all the support they need to succeed.”
This information is especially helpful considering Fruit of the Loom’s departure from its Jamestown factory in 2015. At that time, Russell County was left with an excess of water and wastewater treatment capacity. RCIDA has since tried to capitalize on that excess by further developing its French Valley Business Park and obtaining its certification as a shovel-ready food and beverage site.
“We anticipate being able to attract job-creating retail and industrial businesses to Russell County with the availability of these studies,” Garland said.
The USDA’s Rural Business Development Grants are designed to support technical assistance, training and other activities that help develop or expand small and emerging private businesses in rural areas. RCIDA will contract with the Lake Cumberland Area Development District to assist in the administration of the project.
Garland said he expects the studies to be complete by spring 2018.