The Highlands Economic Partnership (HEP) looks to address potential challenges in economic development over the next year.
Stephen Crook serves as the Highlands’ Vice President of Economic Development. He said growing existing businesses and industries can also have a negative impact.
“It’s given us a much narrower scope of types of businesses to bring in that could help grow the economy,” Crook said. “We don’t want to bring in companies that will harm our existing business’ ability to compete for labor that gets tighter and tighter. We also know that we’ve got some objectives that we’ve got to hit. We need to elevate per capita personal income, and we need to bring int hose types of companies that retain young talent from the community colleges and the university.”
Highlands officials addressed potential hurdles and program goals during the partnership’s annual investors meeting on Tuesday.
Crook said having proper the proper space for new industry remains a critical need for future development in the Upper Cumberland.
“Product availability is always the number one challenge for an economic developer to make sure that you’ve got the product in the form of labor, sites, building, and inventory,” Crook said. ” We have a shortage of the right types and we’re continuing recommending the development of those sites. That’s something we as a program don’t hold in-house, but we can make recommendations to both the public and private sector teams that can develop those sites.”
The program lists economic development as one of its primary strategy points, with the objective to create and retain 1,500 21st-century jobs.