U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and U.S. Representative John Tanner (D-Tenn. 8th) today joined USDA Rural Development State Director Mary Ruth Tackett at the Alex Haley Birthplace and Museum to announce a $40,000 federal grant for small business development in Henning.
“My good friend Alex Haley’s life was a remarkable example of his motto, “find the good and praise it,” said Alexander. “Alex grew up right here in Henning, listening on his front porch to his great aunts and grandma tells stories of his ancestor Kunta Kinte – stories that millions of people around the world would later know as Roots. This $40,000 investment in Haley’s home town will go a long way to help the citizens and business owners in Henning “find the good and praise it” in their community, help the economy grow, and bring jobs to the area. In addition, these funds will help bring the story of Alex’s life and his optimism in America’s progress to future generations.”
"This is an important step to make sure our community can continue its economic development," Congressman John Tanner said. "We know there are many opportunities for small business growth and job creation in Henning, and we look forward to learning how those opportunities can be utilized."
"'We help build communities from the ground up,' is more than just a motto to us," said Tackett. "Thanks to the leadership and support of Senator Lamar Alexander and Congressman John Tanner, Rural Development has the financial resources to put our money where our mouth is by investing in Henning's plan for developing the community's full economic potential."
The Rural Development grant and an additional $10,000 from the city will fund the development of a comprehensive economic and community development plan for the Henning area. This plan will focus on Henning's central business district building and the community's heritage preserved through the work of the Alex Haley Birthplace and Museum.
Experts from the University of Memphis will conduct a study and draft a development action plan through community meetings and well as assessments of Henning’s business potential. The study will be completed next year.
Rural Development’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant program provides assistance to public or not-for-profit entities to support community economic development programs that assist small businesses in developing local business infrastructure, providing job training, conducting feasibility studies and providing technical assistance to businesses and community leaders.
USDA Rural Development assists rural communities by investing financial and technical assistance through housing, community and business development programs. In Fiscal Year 2007 alone, Rural Development assisted at least 600,000 Tennessee families and businesses with more than $308 million in financial resources including loans, loan guarantees and grants. Rural development has invested more than $1.5 million in Henning since 2002.
For more information on Rural Development business, community development or homeownership programs available in southwest Tennessee contact the Area Office in Jackson at 731-668-2091 ext. 2; toll free at (800) 342-3149 ext. 1495; in Covington at 901-475-3350 ext. 4 or online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.