Eight Southeast Tennessee counties are getting targeted federal grants for technical assistance, training and other help for small and emerging rural businesses.

Bobby Goode, state director of USDA Rural Development, said the Rural Business Development Grant dollars will be spent on five projects:

  • * Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Athens; McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Bradley and Polk counties
  • * Ducktown Basin Museum, Polk County
  • * Cleveland Bradley Business Incubator, Bradley, McMinn, Meigs, Rhea and Polk counties
  • * City of Dunlap, Sequatchie County
  • * Bledsoe County government

"At Rural Development, we made a commitment to create jobs and help small businesses grow in rural Tennessee," Goode said. "These funds will provide aided financing needed to support their efforts in expansion and operation."

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) $33,750 to help buy and install software for students in computer electronics courses. The project also will help local businesses find and hire trained workers.

The Ducktown Basin Museum received a $14,630 RBDG grant and $7,130 Community Facilities grant for interpretive signs, maps and brochures explaining the historical artifacts on a trail along museum grounds. Tourism is a major industry in Polk County, so this project will benefit surrounding businesses.

The Cleveland Bradley incubator was awarded $12,500 for a feasibility study of expanding and relocating the incubator. Since it was founded, the incubator has helped hatch more than 150 businesses, created more than 700 jobs and expanded four times, according to Goode's news release.

Dunlap's $15,000 grant will pay for a feasibility study to solve wastewater and stormwater flooding affecting the central business district. Storm damage has led to loss of jobs from businesses leaving in recent years. 

The $15,000 grant to Bledsoe County will pay for a market feasibility study for an assisted living facility that could bring an estimated 50 health-related jobs, providing positive economic development to the area.

Since 2009, U.S. Rural Development has helped more than 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 230 communities, investing more than $6.6 billion through affordable loans, loan guarantees, and grants, Goode said in the release.

For more information on USDA Rural Development programs available in Southeastern Tennessee contact the Chattanooga Area Office at 423-756-2239. Visit us online here.