Rhea County group sets marketing and business growth as goals

Rhea County group sets marketing and business growth as goals

April 5th, 2012 by Kimberly McMillian in News

Workers move dirt at the site of the new Rhea County High School in Evensville, Tenn. The property sits behind the current high school which willl be made into the middle school. The new school is set for completion by August 2013. Photo by Kimberly McMillian

DAYTON, Tenn. - Do more marketing of Rhea County. Increase cooperation between the community's businesses and government. Attract retirees. Recruit and retain retail businesses.

Those were some of the goals brought up by nearly 30 Rhea County leaders attending a meeting Tuesday of the Rhea Economic and Tourism Council.

It was the first meeting headed by the council's new executive director, John Payne, who took over after Raymond Walker resigned in December. Under Walker, recruiting and retaining industries was the main focus of the council, not marketing.

The "key is putting the plan together and implementing it" along with weighing the costs to accomplish the goals, Payne said after the session.

Millie Callaway, community development consultant for the Tennessee Valley Authority, which operates the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Spring City, Tenn., described the meeting as "setting the table ... for future priorities and impact."

She said she would use information gathered at the session for a report to help direct the council's strategy to achieve the goals.

President Lenita Sanders, with the Dayton Chamber of Commerce, listed "market Rhea County" as one of her top three priorities.

Rhea County Executive George Thacker agreed. He said that last year he created TV and radio commercials to showcase "great things in Rhea County that don't cost anything" to attract budget-conscious travelers.

Payne said accomplishing the goals includes bringing in people who live outside Rhea rather than simply passing money among county residents.

A longtime goal for economic leaders has been industrial growth and the development of the industrial parks.

Leaders listed Rhea's accomplishments in the last decade and challenges they've encountered.

They lauded MainStreet Dayton's state-funded courthouse revitalization and the construction of Rhea County High School in Evensville.

Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at kdj424@bellsouth.net.