As the Highlands Initiative, Tennessee Tech University, and the Tennessee League of Women Voters prepare for the Highlands Town Hall Debate 2010 on Sept. 14 in Cookeville, a just-released statewide poll shows that rural voters are anxious to hear what the candidates for governor will do to create jobs in their hometowns and generally feel that state government has focused too much on large economic development projects at the expense of small business growth. According to the poll, 54 percent of Tennesseans believe that improving the economy and creating jobs are the most-important issues currently facing state government. The debate in Cookeville will give focus to hometown issues facing Tennessee's rural and suburban areas, with an emphasis on economic development, education and health care. It will be broadcast from 7 to 8:00 p.m. central time on NewsChannel5 in Nashville.
"Our candidates for governor should hear firsthand about the challenges facing these voters and begin to formulate plans to address those challenges," said George Halford, president/chief executive officer of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce and a Highlands partner. "A one-size-fits-all approach won't work in governing Tennessee. Our rural and suburban areas require different tactics to meet their needs."
For the Highlands Debate, Tennesseans will have the opportunity to submit questions to the candidates for governor in writing or via YouTube videos. The candidates will also be given a chance to ask each other questions. The Highlands is a regional public/private sector initiative between Overton, Putnam and White counties. Launched in 2006, the program has achieved several economic development successes due to unprecedented levels of collaboration and regional cooperation among community leaders.