Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam was in Lafayette on Tuesday, September 18, to present the city of Lafayette with a $500,000 grant for sewer system improvements. TN House of Representatives Speaker Beth Harwell was also in attendance, along with a handful of local officials and many community leaders who filled the room at Lafayette City Hall.
The $500,000 community development block grant (CDBG) will be augmented by $102,410 in local funds to complete the full project: replacing 6,050 feet of sewer line, 4,200 feet of which is near downtown Lafayette.
“Infrastructure” was the byword of the day, with speeches given by Lafayette Mayor Richard Driver, Haslam, Harwell, State Senator Mae Beavers, and State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver.
“CDBG has such a huge impact on our rural communities where we have some of our biggest challenges in economic development,” Haslam said in an earlier press release, and reiterated in his speech. “Having the proper infrastructure in place can lead to additional jobs and investments for a community and enhance the quality of life for its residents.”
The CDBG program is administered in Tennessee by the Department of Economic and Community Development—funds are allocated through a set procedure authorized by the Tennessee General Assembly. These are focused on small towns under 50,000 residents, according to Haslam, and on infrastructure needs specifically. The funds are intended to improve a city’s economic and physical state from the inside out, in other words.
The grant was approved following an application by the City of Lafayette and is supported by state Sen. Mae Beavers (R-MT. Juliet), state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) and City Mayor Richard Driver. U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and U.S. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) aided in securing the funds.
“There is so much involved with a project like this,” said Rep. Weaver. “Governor, thank you for keeping rural areas on your priority list.”
“Community development block grants allow communities to complete projects that will ultimately lay the ground work for future economic development opportunities,” Haslam said. “I am pleased the state of Tennessee is able to partner with our local communities to make this project a reality.”
Additional CDBG recipients will be announced throughout September and October—Haslam said that he was currently on a “CDBG tour.” CDBG is a federal program that began in 1974. It was intended to provide annual grants community development needs like community livability, sewer lines, sewer systems, housing, water lines and water systems.