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August 01, 2014
PUTNAM COUNTY -- The Highlands Economic Partnership (HEP), administered by the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, held a special luncheon on Tuesday for new Steering Committee members to recognize their support of the third phase of the four-county regional economic development program. The Steering Committee is composed of local leaders of businesses and industries who provide high level investment to the program.

The luncheon was attended by not only members of the Highlands Economic Partnership Steering Committee, but also by regional partners and governmental agencies such as the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

After recapping the successes of the first two campaigns, HEP Steering Committee Chairman Jonathan West presented awards to Robert Bell and Philip Oldham for their service as chairman and campaign chair, respectively.

Oldham then introduced his colleague and keynote speaker, Malcolm Portera, the Chancellor Emeritus for the University of Alabama System.

Portera, a world-renowned economic development mind, offered an objective perspective regarding economic growth opportunities for the region. After much analysis of the assets of the partnering counties of Jackson, Overton, Putnam, and White counties, he shared hopefulness and vision for the capabilities the Highlands region holds.

“We have what may be a unique opportunity to influence our competitive economic position by creating strong, collaborative-use partnerships with all the institutional assets of the Highlands region,” Portera said.

He credited the strong academic base located in the Highlands, the Upper Cumberland regional airport and strong industrial manufacturing base as major assets to the region.

In closing, Portera offered encouragement and enthusiasm for the steering committee members, noting that their continued support and investment could offer the opportunity for the Highlands region to be the engine capable of serving as the economic driver for the entire state of Tennessee.

Steering Committee Chairman Jonathan West echoed that notion in his closing statements.

“We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what we are capable of. The Highlands region will reap the benefits of your investment for the next four months, four years and forty years,” said West.

Current HEP Steering Committee members include: American Bank & Trust, American Way Real Estate, Averitt, Bank of Putnam County, the City of Cookeville, City of Sparta, Cookeville Regional Medical Center, Dacco, First National Bank of Tennessee, First Tennessee Bank, Frontier Communications, Highlands Medical Center, Highways Inc.,  MMA Creative, Putnam County, Tennessee Tech University, Twin Lakes, WD Stone & Associates, and White County.

The Highlands Economic Partnership, launched in 2006, by the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, is a collaborative, public/private sector program designed to boost economic and community development in Jackson, Overton, Putnam and White counties. Supported by over 75 investor companies and government organizations, the Highlands Economic Partnership is dedicated to the long-term vision for the region’s economic prosperity.

For more information on the Highlands Economic Partnership, please call 931-526-2211 or e-mail Economic Development Coordinator Stephen Crook at