PRESS RELEASE from the State of Tennessee, Jan. 25:

LINK: https://www.tn.gov/ecd/news/2019/1/25/commissioner-rolfe-appoints-sammie-arnold-as-assistant-commissioner-of-community-and-rural-development.html

Arnold will lead TNECD’s efforts to promote opportunities across rural Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced today the appointment of Sammie Arnold as TNECD’s assistant commissioner of Community and Rural Development.

Arnold, a native of Dyersburg, Tenn., has been with the department since 2013 and most recently served as assistant commissioner of Strategy and Legislative Affairs.

“With 80 of Tennessee’s 95 counties deemed as rural, our commitment to these areas of the state is a top priority for our department. In just three short years, the number of high-quality jobs in rural counties increased from 50 percent to nearly 65 percent, and we remain focused on continuing this growth,” Rolfe said. “Sammie’s wealth of knowledge of the state is matched by his genuine ambition to help expand opportunities across rural Tennessee, and I look forward to seeing the great things that will be accomplished under his leadership.”

Earlier this week, Gov. Bill Lee issued his first executive order, requiring all state executive departments to issue a statement of rural impact and provide recommendations for better serving rural Tennessee. It is the first step by the administration to accelerate plans to address the 15 Tennessee counties that are designated as distressed.

TNECD offers a number of programs and grants aimed at assisting rural communities to build assets and prepare themselves for industrial recruitment. Since 2017, the department has provided more than $34 million in funding to rural communities throughout the state. In addition, companies have invested $3.5 billion and committed to create more than 17,000 new jobs in rural communities over the past two years.

In 2018, TNECD landed 127 projects representing nearly 21,000 new job commitments. Of those projects, 54 percent located in rural counties, an increase from 45 percent in 2014.

“I am tremendously thankful for this opportunity. As a rural Tennessean with deep small-town roots, I am incredibly passionate about supporting our rural communities and protecting their way of life,” Arnold said. “Governor Lee has asked us to be aggressive in developing creative solutions to help our rural communities that are struggling. My team and our department are up to the task.”