JECDB Development Board

Joint Economic Community Development Boards:
Purpose and Composition

To foster communication about economic and community development among local governments and members of their communities, the Growth Policy Act required local governments in each non-metropolitan county to establish Joint Economic and Community Development Boards (JECDBs) or request that an existing board be deemed sufficiently similar.63  These county boards and their executive committees must meet at least four times a year in order for local governments in each county to be eligible for state grants.64  Within this broad framework, these boards are free to focus their efforts as they wish.  Some boards choose to do more, while others regard establishing grant eligibility as the only reason to meet and consider the meeting requirement excessive and unnecessary.  Still others would like to see the boards given broader authority so they would have more reasons to meet.

Efforts to Make JECDBs Successful

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) uses JECDBs in two of its programs: the ThreeStar Program and the Select Tennessee certified sites program.  The department retooled the ThreeStar program after the Growth Policy Act was passed to make the JECDBs a part of it.  Each participating county’s ThreeStar program must be administered by the county JECDB or its designee.  According to the department’s website, participation in the ThreeStar program is based on an annual evaluation and activity plan.  Local community leaders and Joint Economic and Community Development Boards are encouraged to implement activities that will impact the community’s competitiveness in a global economy.  Participating counties (and cities in these counties) will be eligible for a four percent discount (for eligible projects) on both the business development and community development ability-to-pay calculations (CDBG and FastTrack) each year the county fulfills the requirements of the ThreeStar program.  Additionally, only cities located in a county that is an active participate in the ThreeStar program will be eligible to participate in the Tennessee Downtowns program.  Finally, there is an annual grant for Tier 2 and Tier 3 counties to serve as seed money for activities (not to offset general operating expenses) focused on improving at least one of the measured areas of the program:  health and welfare, public safety, and education and workforce development.

Counties are divided into three tiers based on unemployment, poverty, and income.  Tier 3 counties are those with the greatest needs.  Eighty-five Tennessee counties were granted ThreeStar status in 2014.65  The Select Tennessee Certified Sites Program assists communities in preparing sites for investment and job creation.  According to the department’s website,

the Select Tennessee Certified Sites Program was developed as a rigorous process aimed at elevating Tennessee’s sites to the level of preparedness necessary for corporate investment. The program will market the sites to a targeted group of site selection consultants and business leaders in Tennessee’s key industry clusters.  TNECD has established a reimbursable grant to assist communities in Tier 2 and Tier 3 counties with the preparation of sites through the Select Tennessee Certified Sites program.

Because counties may often have several potential sites for development but limited funds to prepare and market them, the department requires that local JECDBs determine which site or sites are in the best interest of the community.  The JECDB handles the application process, and if a site is approved to move forward by the state’s consultants, the JECDB coordinates a site visit and meetings with the consultants and local representatives.66  The state provides financial grants to assist Tier 2 and 3 counties with their applications.

On their own, JECDBs can help bridge gaps between cities and counties by bringing the different leaders together regularly.  The JECDB was successful with their board, where the board was instrumental in the county receiving a $1.76 million grant from the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration for the reconstruction of the roof of the NYX industrial building.  NYX, a manufacturing company, brought much needed jobs to Perry County.

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