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Cookeville Hires Billings As New Economic Development & Grant Coordinator

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Cookeville Hires Billings As New Economic Development & Grant Coordinator

Cookeville’s Community Development Department has a new Economic Development and Grants Coordinator in Matt Billings.

Community Development Director Jon Ward said Billings takes over an expanded position following the retirement of Melinda Keifer in 2022. Ward said Keifer has been retained as a part-time consultant to help smooth the transition, but Billings is getting up to speed in his new role.

“It’s going to concentrate on a lot of our economic development efforts for the city, you know, our strategies for industrial and retail development, a liaison with our Industrial Development Board, our state partners, and all of the other economic development partners we have,” Ward said.

Ward said Billings has experience working in economic development roles with the Upper Cumberland Development District and the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce. Ward said this is a historic time for economic development in Cookeville, so it will be a big help to have an asset like Billings in place.

“We’ve seen a lot of activity,” Ward said. “There’s a lot of investment going on in the city right now. The city, we’re pursuing improvements to streets and various street projects, and just seeing a lot of interest in the community, and I think that’s a reflection that people see Cookeville as a desirable place to be.”

Ward said Keifer’s presence has played a positive role in the adjustment period of the new hire.

“She’s got a lot of knowledge and skill in that area, and we’re happy to be able to still collaborate with her on different projects in the city and hope to keep her on in that role as long as we can. Definitely some value there to be able to have someone that had years and years of experience in that area still be around.”

Ward said the position was redefined in the past year before Billings was hired. The coordination of grants was made a priority in the role, which Ward said is a responsibility that is critical for the city’s growth.

“We’ve got several T-DOT local program grants underway here at the city, so they’re going to try to run point with those and try to keep pushing those forward and keep the projects on time, and hopefully deliver our product sooner,” Ward said.


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