Economic development in rural and urban communities was the focus at Middle Tennessee State University recently when the Jennings and Rebecca Jones Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning hosted the latest session for its inaugural cohort of the COE-URP Scholars program.
Sponsored by Tennessee Small Business Development Center at MTSU, the event marked the third sponsored session this semester of thescholars program, an interdisciplinary program that kicked off this fall and pairs 11 selected scholars with faculty mentors from across the university.
In presenting the session, Patrick Geho, state executive director of the TSBDC at MTSU and management professor, and Patrick Cammack, senior vice president for economic development for the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, covered various topics from small business programs to industrial development boards, zoning and the process of business attraction.
Geho, a seasoned expert in the field, shed light on crucial strategies, with a particular focus on rural communities. His talk delved into several facets, including small business programs, federal and state initiatives, and the intricate dynamics of urban and regional planning.
Geho emphasized the significance of the Small Business Administration‘s 7(a) program, a vital tool for small businesses.
“The program offers financing options, including loans of up to $5 million, with favorable terms to help businesses thrive,” he told those in attendance. He also highlighted the crucial role of Community Development Financial Institutions, citing examples like Pathway Lending in Nashville, Tennessee. His presentation also touched on alternative financing models, such as the 504 programs, aimed at creating jobs and fostering economic development.
As he concluded, Geho shed light on the role of Industrial Development Boards and discussed challenges such as eminent domain — emphasizing the importance of zoning and urging businesses to understand deed covenants and local regulations before proceeding.
Cammack, meanwhile, discussed the process of the economic development and business attraction in particular and compared this process to the college admission process starting from thinking of where to go, where to apply what factors and then ending up making the big decision.
Cammack walked through the company relocation process including reliable workforce, real estate, proximity and access to customers, stable economy, growing population and quality of life.
“As an economic developer, I want the strongest, most robust, most diverse and stable economy possible,” he said.
Cammack underscored the importance of strategic planning, collaboration and staying abreast of changing regulations for sustainable economic development.
After the session, Murat Arik, chairholder for the Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning, said COE-URP program scholars “will now fully focus on their research projects.”
He also noted an upcoming in-person forum that will be held at MTSU sometime in mid-March focusing on “Growth and Infrastructure,” jointly sponsored by the chair of excellence and Cumberland Region Tomorrow.
About Tennessee Small Business Development Center
The Tennessee Small Business Development Centers network, hosted by Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is an accredited member of the National Association of Small Business Development Centers and funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, participating universities and community colleges, and regional support partners.
For more information on the center, visit https://tsbdc.org/center/murfreesboro/.
The Jennings and Rebecca Jones Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning produces and disseminates information relevant to the planning needs and issues in the mid-state region. It encourages dialogue on these important issues among area policymakers, opinion leaders, and the broader community of interest.
For more information on COE-URP, visit https://mtsu.edu/urp/.