Economic Development

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Highlands Initiative


Highlands of Tennessee is a region that was born when White, Overton, Jackson and Putnam counties developed a strategic plan to accelerate economic and community development in their respective communities. The plan, Highlands Initiative, is guided by a tri-county Highlands Initiative Steering Committee. The plan raised $2-plus million from private and public sectors. Highlands of Tennessee speaks literally of the region’s mountains and figuratively of the higher economic level toward which its citizens climb. Other neighboring counties have a standing invitation to join the Highlands. 


Highlands has a slogan that invites business and industry to “Come On Up.” The Highlands has elevated its economic game to match its terrain. Highlands’ leaders -- supported by their chambers, city/county governments and key institutions -- have... 


  • A multi-year strategic business plan.
  • Unusually cooperative arrangements among the founding counties.
  • A preapproved incentive package.
  • Several business parks in various phases of development.
  • Target opportunities and other economic development research.
  • A TVA-based inventory of available facilities and land.
  • Excellent working partnerships with TVA and State of Tennessee.


Available Industrial Sites

In early 2007, Highlands of Tennessee counties -- White, Overton, Jackson and Putnam -- upgraded electronic hardware and software to help develop a database of available land and buildings. The database provides timely information to prospects and economic partners about business and industrial sites that are available for purchase or lease in the four-county region. 


This new jobs-oriented tool lists the information online for new, relocating and expanding businesses and industry. Information is compiled by the chambers of commerce and then uploaded onto a Web site maintained by TVA


Tennessee Three-Star Community

Sparta is a certified Tennessee Three-Star Community. It has completed the five-step process required by the state to be awarded this distinction. The program is designed to assist communities in achieving excellence in community and economic development. 


Three-Star Communities are evaluated by economic specialists from the Tennessee Dept. of Economic and Community Development. They are guided through a process to identify and prioritize development goals that are implemented as part of the city’s strategic plan. 


TECD supports the goals of Three-Star Communities by partnering communities with professionals in the areas identified for growth. Annual reviews by TECD ensure cities remain on course with basic program requirements and that they progress toward reaching goals and identifying new priorities.