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Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison passes law to bolster distressed counties


House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison passes law to bolster distressed counties

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, announced passage of a new law designed to help counties designated as economically distressed advance out of that category and prosper.

Tennessee has eight counties, including Cocke, that rank among the nation’s most economically distressed counties. These counties are identified through a composite measure of each area’s three-year average unemployment rate, per capita income, and poverty rate, according to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Faison’s law extends the deadline for distressed counties to apply for the allocation of state sales tax revenue from a percentage of the rate on all sales in a commercial development district from Dec. 31, 2024 to Dec. 31, 2030. Several counties previously designated economically distressed have advanced out of the category by utilizing the law, which was scheduled to expire at the end of this year.

“The goal of this law is to elevate economic activity in distressed rural counties to get them out of that category,” Faison said.  “If local governments manage this wisely, these counties will not only be able to come off the list, but they’ll thrive with more resources that bring additional economic development, higher paying jobs, greater opportunity and a better quality of life overall for our citizens.”

For the last decade, the General Assembly’s Republican supermajority has prioritized economic and workforce development, education and infrastructure investments to ensure growth and job creation and a greater quality of life across rural Tennessee.  Because of these efforts, Tennessee is down from 21 distressed counties in 2014 to eight in 2024.

County governments must meet any one of the following criteria to be eligible to apply:

  • Per capita income of 80 percent or less than the national average
  • Unemployment rate of at least one percent greater than the national average (based on the most recent 24-month period) or:
    • Unemployment rate of at least 2 percent greater than the state average (based on the most recent 12-month period)
  • Experienced, or is about to experience, a special need arising from actual or threatened severe unemployment or economic adjustment problems, resulting from severe short-term or long-term changes in economic conditions, as determined by the commissioner of finance and administration, the commissioner of economic and community development and the commissioner of revenue
  • Has an area comprised of property acquired from the state by an eligible county or an industrial development corporation established in the county, which property was used by the state as a correctional facility

The allocated amount is required to be exclusively used by the county, municipality or industrial development corporation for the purpose of paying the indebtedness, principal and interest and closing costs incurred by such entities in financing the CDD.

Jeremy Faison lives in Cosby and represents District 11 in the Tennessee House of Representatives, which includes Cocke and part of Hamblen and Jefferson Counties.


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