- Associated Press - Monday, August 14, 2017

SNEEDVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A northeastern Tennessee county is a test case for a state plan to lift counties off a federally designated list of distressed counties by 2025.

Several state agencies, along with local and regional departments, came up with a plan called Project 95, which hopes to improve employment and literacy rates and reverse troubling health trends. If successful, the program will bring about 150-200 call center jobs to Hancock County as soon as next fall, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported .

“This is the best recipe for Hancock County,” said Paula Masters, co-director of East Tennessee State University’s Center for Rural and Appalachian Health. “In order to stimulate economic development you have to be very intentional and think about the cross section of education and health,” Masters said.

Located about 70 miles northeast of Knoxville, Hancock County ranks near the bottom of Tennessee’s counties for employment, health and literacy. The per-capita income from 2011 to 2015 was just over $15,000, according to U.S. Census data.

The county is one of several Tennessee counties that were designated as economically distressed by the Appalachian Regional Commission for the 2018 fiscal year, which means they rank in the lowest 10 percent in the country.

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Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, https://www.knoxnews.com


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