A robust economy is vital to Anderson County’s success

It’s no secret that Anderson County is a great place to live, work and play.

Our community boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the state. Additionally, while we are certainly known for our nuclear industry, we also welcome students, thrill-seekers and tourists.

Educational institutions, tourism, a robust energy industry and a welcoming business setting help make our region an economic engine for Tennessee. For this reason, we must continue fostering this environment of growth and an ever-improving quality of life.

East Tennessee is home to several integral nuclear facilities and other high-tech businesses, including polymer additive manufacturers and energy companies like Kairos Power. Large and small, these companies fuel our economy and enhance our business community.

Nuclear energy is critically important to our area and the entire state, providing 40,286 jobs and an impressive $9.8 billion impact to Tennessee’s economy, according to the trade organization E4 Carolinas.

The average nuclear employee in the Southeast last year earned 65% above the regional average for all other workers, according to the organization. This reliable, safe and carbon-free industry proves to be an impressive economic driver.

The nuclear renaissance can continue to grow if we sow good policies, tout the benefits of this effective source of energy and harness our competitive advantage to keep Tennessee a global leader in the industry.

East Tennessee used to be a major player in Tennessee’s coal industry as well. However, former President Barack Obama’s policies decimated our six mines. This caused a tremendous loss of jobs and a lagging economy in the northeastern part of Anderson County. I, along with many other community leaders and residents, have attempted to offset those losses with increases in tourism.

From a nationally recognized rowing venue to attractive recreational waterways to winding hiking trails to historic museums and impressive ATV parks, our neck of the woods has much to offer for tourists and residents alike. Tourism has now become an additional economic powerhouse for our region.

To that end, in the legislative session that just ended, I sponsored a bill that will allow ATVs to operate all year on a small section of State Route 330. This will connect ATV trails between Rocky Top and Oliver Springs and provide a more stable source of income for workers and business owners.

Anderson County is also impacted by several stellar educational institutions, including Roane State Community College, four University of Tennessee satellite campuses and a Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT).

We are on the front lines of science, technology and research. Students come from across the state, the nation and the world to get a quality education in the heart of East Tennessee, helping enhance our economy and provide excellent jobs.

A strong local economy will help keep these young professionals in Anderson County. This, in turn, will increase research capabilities, innovation and overall quality of life, drawing even more businesses to East Tennessee.

On March 27, Gov. Bill Lee signed legislation I introduced expanding on the VETS Act, which encourages college campuses to provide additional services and support to our country’s honored military veterans. This legislation creates VETS Bravo campuses, which are schools that go above and beyond, offering a proven quality network of resources to help veterans assimilate and succeed.

As a veteran myself, I’ve spent a lot of time with former service members and I understand their excellent skill set, intelligence and pride in their country and community. Attracting them to our colleges and universities will greatly benefit Anderson County.

I’m a big believer in the saying that a rising tide lifts all boats. And while government is certainly not the answer, enacting policies to promote Tennesseans’ innovation, work ethic and volunteer spirit can help drive local communities like ours.