Garland goes Greene: Former Tennessee economic developer settles in as Greene County Partnership CEO


Photo above: Garland at his desk.  Photos by Scott Robertson

Garland, who opens discussions of Greene County’s advantages by talking about the county’s history, poses with a statue of President Andrew Johnson.

Garland, who opens discussions of Greene County’s advantages by talking about the county’s history, poses with a statue of President Andrew Johnson.

Matt Garland has hit the ground running as the new president/CEO of the Greene County Partnership. Garland, who has worked in Northeast Tennessee for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development for the last eight years, already knows the people, places and things that will make the difference in Greene County’s efforts to attract new industry and assist existing businesses to grow in place.

“We’ve been busy this month,” Garland told the Partnership Board at its Oct. 20 meeting. “We have seven projects we’re working on with expansions and new business. We have submitted with TVA on a project as well. We also had Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development leadership here for a tour this month. We attended the ACT Work Ready Communities Academy in Atlanta with Lottie Ryans and the First Tennessee Development District. Our manufacturing appreciation event was a success. We also are submitting through state ECD and the Select Tennessee program two sites to be considered for a site development grant. That award can be up to $500,000 in assistance for site development. And we’re gearing up for the governor’s conference next week.”

Garland is the newest of a younger generation of economic development professionals heading up county organizations in east Tennessee, joining Mitch Miller in Washington County and Marshall Ramsey in Hamblen County. It’s clear Garland brings a young man’s enthusiasm and energy to the job.

“I see Greene County and Greeneville as having so much potential,” he said after the Partnership Board meeting. “I’ve always kept my eye on them. I think of Greeneville as kind of an unpolished gem in the region. So when the opportunity came open after Tom (Ferguson) resigned, I immediately began talking with local people here because I see a lot of different projects with a lot of potential, and I think our team is fantastic. It’s very exciting to be able to look around and say, ‘There’s growth to be had.’”

As most new economic developers do when entering a community, Garland is concentrating on getting in front of the existing manufacturing companies. “Eighty-three to 85 percent of job growth comes to a community through existing companies,” he said. But while he’s spending a good deal of time with them, Garland is also putting significant time into working on inventory development for new business recruitment. “You need shovel-ready sites. So we’re working with ECD on getting those state-certified sites. So building inventory is a constant.”

Between working to create those shovel-ready sites, working to ensure industry and education are working together on workforce issues and working to stay ahead of the curve with local governments on infrastructure, Garland said, “There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do what I want to do. And I’m so happy here doing it.”

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