If you’re thinking about building or expanding a business, look north to Union County. State funding is available to help stimulate growth in 23 so-called distressed counties. Union County is the closest to Knoxville.
It made the list with unemployment of 11.4 percent, per capita income of $18,000 and a poverty rate of 22 percent, according to the state’s most recent reports. Many residents drive to Knox County to shop and work.
A good deal awaits jobs-producing business growth just up the road in Union County.
Gov. Bill Haslam and the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development, headed by Knoxville guy Randy Boyd, have reclassified Tennessee counties to create a designation that helps rural counties recruit new business. In 17 so-called “tier four” counties, the state will double down on incentives.
Knox County school board will take a year and hire a search firm to find a director of schools, following the surprise announcement by Dr. Jim McIntyre that he’s stepping down in July.
But board members should look first at surrounding counties, especially Blount and Union where Dr. Mike Winstead (Maryville) and Dr. Jimmy Carter are doing great work to manage local school districts. A third choice is Dr. Donna Wright, director of schools in Wilson County.
Dr. Jimmy Carter and a team of teachers have devised a plan for performance pay that meets state requirements and makes sense. Carter unveiled his plan at the Feb. 20 school board meeting.
Unlike the turmoil we’ve seen in Knox County, the local plan should find smooth sailing with the Board of Education and with educators themselves. After all, it’s hard to argue with more pay for more work. And it’s easy to see how tutoring kids and mentoring teachers can improve academic performance.
Sheriff Earl Loy Jr. has more friends on the full County Commission than he has at the Budget and Finance Committee. That’s the best conclusion to draw from the ease with which the Union County Sheriff’s Office got approval to purchase four new Ford SUVs at the commission’s Feb. 10 meeting.
Or maybe commissioners just got tired of haggling about it.