Press Releases

March 16, 2017
JOB POSTING: Workforce Development and Education Coordinator


Job Description


Position: Workforce Development and Education Coordinator            




Reports to: Lillian Hartgrove


Reports to Incumbent: None




The primary responsibilities of this position is to oversee various workforce development and education programs and manage the administrative aspects of each program developed by the Highlands Workforce Development and Education Steering in conjunction with the Vice President of Workforce Development and Education. 


  • Work directly with the all partners and stakeholder groups who play a critical role in the accomplishment of the goals and objectives of this important Program of Work.  This includes but is not limited to K-12 Educators, Higher Education leaders, Business Leaders, Career Centers, Chamber of Commerce leadership and members, the Highlands Steering Committee members, TN Department of Education and Jobs for the Future.
  • Coordinate meetings for the Workforce Development and Education Committee.  This includes developing meeting agendas for approval by Committee Chair and Vice President; ensure meeting notifications are sent; and assist the Vice President with oversight of all committee in the accomplishment of goals and objectives.
  • Coordinate the Speakers Program by serving as the liaison between the School Districts and the designated speakers.  Communicate expectations to speakers on school standards for topics chosen. Assist schools in ensuring speakers are linking their speaking topic to core curricula and standards. Maintain frequent contact with existing speakers and continue to add new speakers as circumstances warrant. 
  • Maintain committee roster, ensure minutes are taken, document goals and objectives and verify that actions items are implemented for all committee and sub-committees.
  • Coordinate Parental Engagement Sub-committee activities jointly with Committee Chair.  Assist Chair in meeting schedule, location, agenda and ensuring work is on track with stated goals.
  • Oversee Tennessee Scholars Program with Workforce Development and Education Liaisons.  Maintain inventory of recognition medals awarded to scholars and any other recognition program identified by the Committee.
  • Ensure agreed upon goals and action items are in compliance with grants.
  • Submit required quarterly grant reports to Chamber CFO or as directed by a specific grant.


Additional Responsibilities:  Oversight for Health and Wellness Program of Work, which includes but is not limited to managing the Highlands Fitness Challenge event. 



Skills/Qualifications Required:


  1. BA or BS Degree in Business or Education preferred


  1. Excellent verbal and written communication skills


  1. Strong organizational skills


  1. Excellent interpersonal skills


  1. Project Management skills


  1. Time Management skills


  1. Team player


  1. Computer skills (Microsoft Office Suite of Products)


  1. Flexible, self-starter with a strong work ethic



If interested, please send an email to or call 931-526-2211








April 19, 2017


Premier technology integrator is expected to create 300 jobs over the next five years in Putnam County
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) officials announced today that the company will establish a Technology Integration Gateway™ in Cookeville. The new facility is expected to create 300 new jobs over the next five years.


The Technology Integration Gateway will create a wide range of technology jobs, including roles in information technology (IT) services, computer programming, engineering and software development. The Gateway will also provide cloud, cyber security and data science expertise. 
“We’re pleased that SAIC has decided to expand further in Tennessee by creating 300 well-paying jobs in software engineering, computer programming and other technology roles in Cookeville,” Haslam said. “Tennessee leads the nation in the growth of STEM-related advanced industry jobs and SAIC’s new commitment to Putnam County continues that strong momentum, bringing us closer to our goal of making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”


“SAIC employs more than 600 Tennesseans and this decision to put additional resources in Tennessee is a strong vote of confidence in the strength of our workforce,” Rolfe said. “SAIC’s commitment to forge strong ties with Tennessee Tech University and create high quality jobs matches perfectly with our statewide efforts to better align higher education with the needs of business partners. We look forward to the positive impact SAIC will have in Cookeville for years to come.”


Headquartered in McLean, Va., SAIC is a premier technology integrator in the technical, engineering, intelligence and IT sectors. SAIC employs more than 15,000 people worldwide.


“SAIC has a long legacy of doing business in Tennessee,” SAIC CEO Tony Moraco said. “When seeking a location for our first Technology Integration Gateway, Tennessee was a natural choice, especially given Governor Haslam’s strong commitment to workforce development, job creation and post-secondary attainment. The Cookeville Gateway will provide an excellent opportunity to build a lasting relationship with Tennessee Tech, support the development of a 21st century workforce and help local talent develop the in-demand skills necessary to address our customers’ most critical IT missions.”


Expected to open this summer, the Technology Integration Gateway will serve federal defense and civilian agencies, state and local governments, as well as commercial businesses. SAIC is exploring partnership opportunities with Tennessee Tech to identify and provide high-tech training to prospective IT employees.


Local officials and the Tennessee Valley Authority praised SAIC for its commitment to create 300 new jobs in Cookeville.


“The City of Cookeville is extremely excited about this announcement. The impact these new jobs will have on our downtown merchants and businesses is significant,” Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton said. “Jobs in the technology sector will be vital in helping raise per capita income in Cookeville. Higher wage jobs will create more income for our local businesses to capitalize on. The bottom line is that jobs in this sector translate to greater opportunities for our retailers, and this is very promising in regards to our city’s future. We look forward to more technology-based firms making Cookeville their home.”


“It’s always a thrill to announce new jobs for Putnam County and add to our outstanding portfolio of current business and industry partners,” Randy Porter, Putnam County Executive said. ”SAIC’s high-tech, high-paying jobs will provide a significant boost to our local economy and give Tennessee Tech computer engineering graduates another good reason to stay in the county. The IT field is an area we’ve long wanted to tap into and SAIC is the perfect fit to put Putnam County on the map for future growth opportunities. We enthusiastically welcome SAIC to our county.”


“Tennessee Tech, along with leaders in Cookeville and the Upper Cumberland, strives to create a friendly frontier for businesses. We are excited to play a key part in developing training and education partnerships for SAIC,” Tennessee Technological University President Phil Oldham said. “More and more, our faculty, students and staff allow the university to influence industrial recruitment and growth, job creation, and entrepreneur development based on our area’s specialties and strengths.”


"This announcement is a game-changer for our region. Our team has been working to grow employment in this sector for a long time, and we are optimistic that this company will be a catalyst for continued growth in the IT cluster,” George Halford, president and CEO of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber, said. “This project would never have been possible without the support and teamwork from our TTU, Putnam County, City of Cookeville, TNECD, and TVA partners. We see this project as the tipping point for future technology-driven, higher paying jobs for our region.”


“TVA and Cookeville Electric congratulate SAIC on its decision to locate in Cookeville and create hundreds of new job opportunities,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “We are proud to partner with Tennessee Tech University, city of Cookeville, Putnam County, Cookeville Chamber, Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to help foster economic growth and prosperity in the Valley.”


Cookeville and Putnam County are represented by Sen. Paul Bailey (R – Sparta), Rep. Ryan Williams (R – Cookeville) and Rep. Cameron Sexton (R – Crossville) in the Tennessee General Assembly.


April 25, 2017

Highlands Economic Partnership

1 West 1st Street, Cookeville, TN 38501


April 25, 2017




CONTACT: Zach Buckner





COOKEVILLE – Aphena Pharma Solutions announced today that they will be expanding their Cookeville operations.  Their Browns Mill Road facility will be expanding with a $7 million capital investment.  This expansion also means 150 new jobs over the course of the next five years.  

Aphena Pharma Solutions, Inc., is a large pharmaceutical solution provider focused on contract packaging, repackaging and manufacturing for the pharmaceutical, OTC, dietary supplement, animal health, consumer health and medical device marketplaces.

Aphena was formed by a family of well-established, seasoned companies (PrePak Systems, TestPak, Celeste and Integrated Pharmaceutical Packaging). Some of these established companies have been in this industry for more than 25 years. The strategic alliance is now called Aphena Pharma Solutions. Aphena has five FDA-registered facilities in the U.S. and offers customers several capabilities. The products Aphena is actively handling are solid dose, liquids, gels, creams, ointments, foams, suspensions and lotions.

Putnam County Executive, Randy Porter states, “Putnam County is truly a great place for business.  Aphena’s expansion is very exciting and couples well with the other economic growth announcements we have had in recent months.  New industry attraction to our county is very important, but seeing growth and expansion in our existing companies certainly is a powerful indicator of a healthy economy.   We want to continue to see companies feel great about doing business in Putnam County, and we are grateful for Aphena.”

Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton is also excited about this expansion.  “I am certainly very proud to have yet another announcement taking place within our city.  The economic climate here is something to be very optimistic about.  Cookeville is thankful to have companies like Aphena willing to be an active part of our city.  Their expansion here speaks directly to the business environment, the motivated spirit, and the work ethic of our community.  More quality jobs for Cookeville means better quality of life for our citizens.”

This announcement for more jobs comes off the heels of another major economic development announcement earlier this month.  George Halford, President and CEO of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce speaks optimistically about this Aphena announcement and the implications on the future in the Highlands. “This announcement is yet another example of the unprecedented success we are seeing in our region.  The local leadership of Aphena has been actively engaged in our community’s growth from day one.  I cannot say enough about the quality and caliber of their team.  They have supported economic development in our area by investing in the Highlands Economic Partnership, and our hat goes off to them for choosing to plant roots even more deeply here.” 

The facility will house Solid and semisolid dose packaging operations, Bottling, cartoning, blister packaging, pouching, secondary packaging, rework projects and kit assembly.  The two Aphena Pharma facilities will total over 140,000 square feet.  


May 01, 2017
SAIC Now Hiring!

SAIC is hiring multiple full time, Entry level, Help Desk positions in Tennessee. This is a great opportunity for college graduates or junior level help desk analysts to get into a premier technology integrator and grow their career! The detailed job description is available at:

June 22, 2017
TCAT Livingston and Vol State Sign Major Articulation Agreement

June 19th was a momentous day for both the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Livingston and Vol State Community College as both education institutions came together at the Cookeville Higher Education Campus to sign an articulation agreement for students to transition seamlessly between TCAT’s Industrial Maintenance program and Vol State’s Mechatronics Technology program. This will allow students the opportunity to launch their higher education journey at TCAT with comfort in knowing their credits will then transfer to Vol State within the mentioned program of study. 

This agreement is a step forward in reaching the Highlands Pathways’ overarching goal of encouraging students to improve their job readiness through higher education attainment levels.

September 06, 2017

Economic Development Coordinator

Commensurate with experience
Full Time with Benefits 
Under general direction, responsible for assisting in the implementation and coordination of economic development programs and initiatives and for providing support for department operations; performs related work as required. This position reports to the Vice President of Economic Development. 
Essential Job Functions: 
Assist in the planning and development of the organization and methodology of economic development initiatives including the completion and analysis of social, economic and other data for marketing and project management purposes 
Conduct periodic reviews and essential research for the maintenance/update of website and electronic communications including: Tracking company employment numbers and functions, tracking new business licenses and creating/updating PowerPoint and Prezi presentations 
Collect data and maintain available site and property databases 
Compose monthly department reports as assigned 
Assist with Economic Development marketing communications and manage customer relationships 
Assist with the Highlands Economic Partnership investor communications 
Schedule and coordinate Industrial Development Board of the City of Cookeville quarterly meetings and other events as needed 
Assist with some administrative duties, such as setting appointments, completing expense reports, and organizing or facilitating meetings 
Work special projects as assigned Minimum 
Graduation from an accredited college or university with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration, Public Administration, Management, Planning, Economics, Design or closely related field and two (2) years of professional experience in a related field. Equivalent combination of training and experience is acceptable. 
Ability to accomplish following tasks: plan, develop and coordinate economic development programs; prepare technical reports and materials; make oral presentations; establish and maintain effective working relationships with fellow employees, officials, businesses and the general public; and maintain a customer management database. 
Knowledge of the following software preferred: InDesign, Microsoft Office Suite, Constant Contact, WordPress, Adobe editing suite and Prezi 
Graphic Design or marketing experience a plus 
Strong grammatical and writing skills are required 
Must be able to travel part of time and capable of working on multiple projects/initiatives simultaneously. 
How to Apply:  If you believe your qualifications meet the listed requirements, please submit a cover letter and resume by e- mail to with subject line "Application - Economic Development Coordinator". Only candidates selected for interviews will be notified. 
Application Deadline: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 by 5 pm CST or until position is filled. Submitted applications will be reviewed as they are received. 
About the Highlands Economic Partnership:
The Highlands Economic Partnership, which was launched in 2006 by the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce as the Highlands Initiative, is a collaborative, public/private sector program designed to boost economic and community development in Jackson, Overton, Putnam and White counties. Over 85 investor companies made up of federal, state, city and county governments and agencies, chambers of commerce, key officials and business leaders throughout the region, play key roles in the program’s development. 
The Highlands Economic Partnership provides unparalleled access to education, leadership development, relationship-building and up-to-the-minute information about doing business in the the region. Our strategic initiatives include higher education, workforce development, regional cooperation, strengthening existing businesses, recruiting businesses, and enabling a strong entrepreneurship ecosystem. 
January 29, 2018
Lillian Hartgrove Elected Chair of State Board of Education

We are so very proud of our very own Lillian Hartgrove, newly elected chair of the Tennessee State Board of Education! This is a very distinct and well-deserved honor for Lillian and is great affirmation of her dedication to education in our state! Congratulations to her!

Pictured L to R: Commissioner Candice McQueen, Lillian Hartgrove, newly elected chair, and Gordon Ralston, newly elected vice chair.


May 24, 2018
Perdue Foods Job Posting
Perdue Foods: Team Leader
Full-time job
Perdue Foods in Monterey, TN is looking for a great candidate to fill this role. Very competitive salary. 

For more info please contact:
Jenny Bowman
HR Interviewer
Perdue Farms
Monterey, TN

Mention: Highlands Job Posting


July 24, 2018
For Immediate Release: Highlands Economic Partnership Welcomes New Director of Investor Relations
Director of Investor Relations Justin Matheney

COOKEVILLE, TENN - The Highlands Economic Partnership announced Justin Matheney as Director of Investor Relations during the 2018 Highlands Annual Meeting on Thursday, July 12, 2018.

"We are elated to welcome Justin to the Highlands Economic Partnership team," said President/CEO George Halford, Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, "His entrance comes at a pivotal time in not only our organization, but the Highlands region overall."

A 2009 graduate of Cookeville High School, Matheney completed his postsecondary education at Tennessee Technological University in 2014 with a double major in Sports Journalism and Public Relations.

"This is an exciting time to enter the Highlands Economic Partnership," said Matheney, "I am honored to work with a strong team that is already in place doing great work in our economic, workforce and community development for our region."

After graduation, Matheney served as Strong Safeties Coach, Recruiting Coordinator and Camp Director for Tennessee Tech Football. Prior to his departure from Tech, Matheney was Director of Football Operations and Cornerbacks Coach.

Matheney will serve as the main liaison and direct contact for existing public and private sector investors and will be the driving-force focusing on attracting new investors.

Launched in 2006, the Highlands Economic Partnership is a collaborative, public/private sector program designed to boost economic and community development in Jackson, Overton, Putnam and White counties.

July 30, 2018
Local Economic Development Practitioners Complete UT Training Course

COOKEVILLE, TENN - Zach Buckner and Hayden White were two of more than 50 economic development professionals from Tennessee and 10 other states who graduated from the 12th annual Tennessee Basic Economic Development Course (TBEDC) in May in Nashville. Buckner served as the former vice president of development and communications for the Highlands Economic Partnership; he now serves as a consultant with the organization. White serves as the communications coordinator for the Highlands. 

The week-long course is one of 10 courses offered by the UT Center for Industrial Services (UT CIS), an agency of the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service (IPS), and is considered the cornerstone of the Tennessee Certified Economic Developer (TCED) professional certification program. The course also is accredited by the International Economic Development Council. 

Attendees learned best practices in economic and community development, new methods and programs to promote job growth and investment, and discussed emerging trends and factors that shape local and regional economies. This year's diverse class had a range of participants that included chamber of commerce and economic and community development organization professionals, elected and appointed officials, state government agency staff and business leaders.

"The interest, engagement and knowledge of the participants made this truly a unique experience," said Kim Denton, TBEDC course director and TCED director.

Over the course of the week, the class heard presentations from more than 25 expert practitioners in many disciplines of economic development. Participants said one of the biggest benefits of the experience, beyond the presentations, was the relationships built over the week. Case studies, group work, class discussions, and after-class activities gave everyone the opportunity to create a broad network across Tennessee. "We were so fortunate to have top-notch, nationally recognized Tennessee economic development professionals as instructors at the TBEDC," Denton said.

The week closed with the TBEDC graduation ceremony. IPS Vice President Dr. Herb Byrd and Denton presented the completion certificates.



October 30, 2018
Highlands Economic Partnership Welcomes New Economic & Community Development Coordinator

COOKEVILLE, TENN - The Highlands Economic Partnership announces the recent hire of Yvonne Pickering as Economic Development & Community Development Coordinator. Pickering will serve under Stephen Crook, Vice President of Economic Development. 

"We are very fortunate to bring Yvonne onto our team," said Crook. "We've been looking to expand our economic development staff for quite some time now, and I believe we found the perfect candidate. Yvonne comes to us with tremendous experience and will be a valuable asset as we grow the economic development program."

Pickering was employed as Family Programs Coordinator for the United States Army's Fifth Special Forces Group for six years.

"One of the goals is utilizing my experience working with military families is to help tap into that workforce that is either leaving or has plans to leave the service," said Pickering. "Having this experience will help make our region a place for these families to call home."

Pickering served as Military & Government Relations Coordinator for the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce for eight years before joining the Highlands Economic Partnership team.

"Working for the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce gave me the opportunity to see firsthand how vital economic development is to a community's growth," added Pickering. "The Highlands counties are growing by leaps and bounds; I'm thrilled to be part of this area. My hope is to bring my past experience to the table and do my part in making our region the number one place in Tennessee where people want to live, work and play."

Launched in 2006, the Highlands Economic Partnership is a collaborative, public/private sector program designed to boost economic and community development in Jackson, Overton, Putnam and White counties.

January 28, 2019
Don Viar Appointed As Highlands Economic Partnership Chairman

The Highlands Economic Partnership is pleased to announce Don Viar has been appointed Chairman for 2019. Viar will replace outgoing chairman, Twin Lakes CEO, Jonathan West.


Viar serves as CEO to EpiOn.IT, formerly Epic Technologies. EpiOn.IT began as a  small-town technology company and progressed its way into a national cloud IT services firm. Viar has worked with over 500 companies during his career.


“Don’s placement as chairman of the Highlands Economic Partnership solidifies our progression as an organization,” said President/CEO George Halford. “Having worked with Don on the Chamber board, I have total confidence in him leading the Highlands into our next phase.”


Prior to joining EpiOn.IT, Viar served as the Retail Controller for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, a founder of ConnectedHealth.Net (a $15 million subsidiary of Ernst & Young), Senior Consultant for Ernst & Young's Emerging Technologies team and Senior Auditor for Ernst & Young. In these capacities, he frequently served as a trusted advisor to the top executives of multi-billion dollar and Fortune 100 companies. 


“I’ve been an active supporter of the Highlands for many years,” said Viar. “I’ve seen firsthand the output of this organization from contributing as a Platinum Level investor and serving as chair for the Information Technologies Pathway for the Highlands’ Workforce Development & Education program.”


Viar is a graduate of Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Management Information Systems and a Master’s in Business Administration. Since 2012, Viar has served on the board of directors for the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, serving as Chairman of the Board in 2016.


Launched in 2006, the Highlands Economic Partnership is a collaborative, public/private sector program designed to boost economic and community development in Jackson, Overton, Putnam and White counties.

March 07, 2019
Putnam County Selected for Marketing Assistance Program

Putnam County has been selected as one of twelve counties to participate in the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development’s 2019 Marketing Assistance Program. The program is setup to aid the county’s marketing efforts for economic and community development.

Grant deliverables include four promotional videos consisting of an anthem video and three testimonials that feature the success stories in rural development, workforce development and existing businesses within Putnam County. Additionally, a custom presentation template will be constructed for economic development recruitment and a library of custom photography will be provided for communication and marketing efforts.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to participate in TNECD’s Marketing Assistance Program,” said Stephen Crook, vice president of economic development, Highlands Economic Partnership. “This initiative will provide compelling materials that will help us tell the story of why businesses continue to locate in our area and add to our marketing toolbox.”

Designsensory, a Knoxville-based agency, will handle the production of the deliverables. An award-winning research, branding, advertising and digital agency, they recently won two Emmy Awards for their work and partnership with TNECD on Remastered, a six-part series focusing on Tennessee brands and their global significance.

Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter said, “We are very thankful to TNECD for choosing us for this great program. Putnam County has been very successful in economic development over the past few years. This program will allow us to market our county on an even greater level to bring more high-level jobs here.”

Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton added, “Marketing our community and telling our compelling story is very important. We are excited to receive this grant to help facilitate that process for future growth.”

Location scouting, creative strategies and other marketing essentials will be coordinated through May succeeding a discovery call with TNECD and Designsensory. Highlands partner, Jackson County, was also selected as a grant recipient. Overton and White counties have received the grant in previous years.

Launched in 2006, the Highlands Economic Partnership is a collaborative, public/private sector program designed to boost economic and community development in Jackson, Overton, Putnam and White counties.

June 26, 2019
Job Posting: Director of Investor Relations
Position: Director of Investor Relations                                             
Reports to: Vice President, Workforce Development & Education
Reports to Incumbent: None
The Director of Investor Relations is a mission-critical position responsible for the strategy and implementation of the investor relations for the Highlands Economic Partnership. This role includes but is not limited to a consistent communication message to investors; monitoring and presenting investor opinions on company performance to leadership/management; maintaining existing and developing new investors for long term sustainability of the organization. 
Essential Duties and Responsibilities: To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform the following:
1) Proactively engage both new and existing public and private sector investors regularly to articulate the strategy and status of the HEP’s progress.
2) Develop multi-year investor targeting and communication plans.
3) Record and summarize all investor contacts and communicate to internal management team and key Chamber Board and HEP leadership.
4) Prepare leadership and management team for investor meetings and investor calls.
5) Facilitate fundraising and sustainability for the Highlands Economic Partnership working with the President/CEO, Operations VP, and HEP Chairman. 
6) Communicate the work being done by the three major programs of the HEP: Economic Development, Workforce Development and Education, and Community Development and Advocacy to public and private sector partners.
7) Coordinate key HEP press releases, Highlands Happenings e-Newsletter, and print materials with CEO, division heads and communications coordinator.
8) Oversee and execute investor relations activities on an ongoing basis including, but not limited to phone calls, quarterly meetings, annual meeting, follow-up visits, and meet and greet events. 
9) Communicate the investors’ feedback/views on the performance of the organization.
10) Represent Highlands Economic Partnership at assigned community, regional, and state functions.
11) Oversee the production of annual reports.
12) Serve as the key point of contact for investors.
13) Work closely with Communication staff to issue press releases and garner positive attention regarding growth, progress, improvements and value of our services to investors.
14) Any other duties as assigned by the supervisor or President/CEO.
Skills/Qualifications Required:
1) Bachelor’s degree preferred
2) Previous experience in investor relations, public relations, marketing, etc. (preferred)
3) Excellent interpersonal skills, including the ability to communicate clearly and concisely
4) Proven success or similar experience recruiting and retaining investors from various industries and organizations
5) Strong presentation, sales, and marketing skills
6) Ability to work well under pressure; maintain deadlines, and multi-task
7) Strong organizational skills
8) Technology skills 
Applications will be accepted until Monday, July 10, 2019. Please email a copy of your cover letter and resume to Lillian Hartgrove via email at 
July 08, 2019
Young Professionals’ Organization Launches

In the two years I’ve been employed by the Highlands Economic Partnership (HEP), I’ve met and worked alongside some very talented people and learned a great deal about what it means to nurture a community so it flourishes, but most importantly, I’ve been part of work that makes a real impact on the lives of others. For those unfamiliar with the HEP, it is a four-county partnership made up of Jackson, Overton, Putnam and White Counties. Together we strive each day to make our communities great places to live, work and explore. We do this through economic, community, workforce, and education development.

As someone who loves to try new things, be creative, innovative and shake things up, it’s been so fun working for an organization that welcomes new ideas and supports great opportunities. The HEP, along with the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, always ask staff, “What’s next?” Most recently, we responded to that question with the vision to start a young professionals’ program. Some may ask why we decided this would be the next piece of the overall puzzle. The answer is really simple. Attracting and retaining young talent is essential to grow our communities. As a young professional, I am excited to know the HEP is investing in us and taking the time to develop valuable employees, strong leaders, and engaged members of the community.

With the research, planning and support in place, the HEP launched the area’s first young professionals’ group, YP Highlands (YPH), earlier this year. YPH is taking a unique approach to engaging young professionals. It is a non-partisan, all-inclusive program for individuals between the ages of 21 and 40, both degree holding or without a degree, from all job and career sectors. We want to celebrate all young talent, their diversity and the contributions they make to their communities. YPH will use three key approaches to accomplish its mission to attract and retain young, diverse professionals to Jackson, Overton, Putnam and White Counties: networking, community outreach, and professional development. Regular social gatherings will be organized to develop personal and professional connections. We will be actively engaged in service opportunities that contribute to the growth and vitality of our communities, and through professional development we will learn from seasoned professionals to develop our leadership, entrepreneurial and mentoring skills.

Since February of this year, over 190 young professionals from the four-county partnership have participated in social networking events and volunteer opportunities. We cannot wait to see how YP Highlands continues to grow and make an impact. For more information on how to join the fun, contact Kaitlin Salyer at 931-526-2211.

Kaitlin Salyer

Highlands Economic Partnership – Workforce Development and Education Coordinator

Advisory Council Chair, YP Highlands


July 29, 2019
Highlands Economic Partnership Welcomes New Director of Investor Relations

COOKEVILLE, TENN. – The Highlands Economic Partnership announces the hire of David Darnell as Director of Investor Relations, effective August 5, 2019. Darnell comes to the Highlands with over fifteen years of sales and management leadership, including considerable recognition for his work with previous employers and developing two nationally-recognized companies: Addo, Inc., a corporate recruiting firm & DBK Environmental Solutions, which houses a men’s lifestyle brand that is sold in forty-two states and over 500 stores.

“David is eager to begin working with our investors and understands how vitally important this position is to the Partnership”, commented Lillian Hartgrove, Vice President of Workforce Development & Education. “Investors need to be apprised of the on-going work and accomplishments generated by their investment, none of which would happen without their support. The Director of Investor Relations is pivotal in that regard.”

Darnell plans to take on this role with high energy and a drive and determination to ensure new and existing investors have an unwavering degree of confidence in the Highlands Economic Partnership.

“We are thrilled to have David joining the team to assume responsibility for this extremely important position.  Having a resource dedicated to sustaining the work of the Highlands Economic Partnership, while ensuring our investors’ needs are met, is imperative toward achieving our economic development goals for the partnership,” said George Halford, President/CEO.

Launched in 2006, the Highlands Economic Partnership is a collaborative, public/private sector program designed to boost economic and community development in Jackson, Overton, Putnam and White counties.


May 12, 2020


“The May 20, 2020 meeting of the Industrial Development Board of the City of Cookeville is hereby cancelled. For any questions please contact Stephen Crook at


NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN to all residents of Cookeville, Tennessee and to all persons interested, that a Special Meeting of the Industrial Development Board of the City of Cookeville Tennessee (the “IDB”) shall be held on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at 10:00 AM.

NOTICE IS FURTHER HEREBY GIVEN that, pursuant to Executive Orders No. 16, 23 & 24 issued by the Governor of Tennessee, all governing bodies should meet by electronic means if the governing body determines that meeting electronically is necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of Tennesseans in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

NOTICE IS FURTHER HEREBY GIVEN that  the governing body, the IDB, has determined that this meeting will be held by electronic means only because of the necessity to protect the health, safety and welfare of all Tennesseans as well as all interested persons in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NOTICE IS FURTHER HEREBY GIVEN that live electronic access to the public during the meeting shall be available via Zoom audio and video. The electronic meeting will be recorded via audio or video recording and copies of the meeting will be made available within two (2) business days after the meeting.

To access the meeting, please call (931) 526-2211 or email Stephen Crook at and an email will be sent to you with access instructions. Anyone person interested in accessing the meeting via Zoom should familiarize themself with the Zoom App in advance of the meeting.

NOTICE IS FURTHER HEREBY GIVEN that the purpose of the special Meeting to be held on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at 10:00 AM, shall be to consider a tax incentive proposal between the Industrial Development Board of the City of Cookeville, Tennessee (the “Lessor”) and Royal Appliance Mfg. Co., (the “Lessee”), successor in interest to Oreck Manufacturing.  Such proposal shall be for the purpose of: (1) setting forth the possible tax incentives available to, and obligations required of  Lessee resulting from a proposed amendment to the existing real property Lease dated December  20, 2007 between Lessor and Lessee’s predecessor, which amendment will require an additional expenditure by Lessee of approximately $8,000,000.00 in capital improvements to the leased real property and extending the term of the original real property Lease by three (3) years; (2) for the additional purpose of authorizing a proposal setting forth possible personal  property tax incentives available to, and obligations required of Lessee resulting from a proposed new ten (10) year Personal Property Lease which will require the employment of 325 new employees, and require Lessee to acquire approximately $12,000,000.00 in new equipment and personal property for use at  the Cookeville location; (3) considering appropriate “claw-back” provisions in the event of nonconformance by the Lessee; and (4) consider all additional matters which may properly be considered at meetings of The Industrial Development Board of the City of Cookeville Tennessee.

The tax incentive proposal shall be subject to the negotiation and execution of definitive documents and shall be further subject to the approval of the Comptroller of the Treasury for Tennessee and the Tennessee Commissioner of Economic Development, and final approval by the IDB.

NOTICE IS FURTHER HEREBY GIVEN that at the Special Meeting there shall also be held a PUBLIC HEARING to provide members of the public an opportunity to be heard concerning the matters to be considered.

                                                                                                Robert R. Bell, Chairman

                                                                                                The Industrial Development Board

                                                                                                Of the City of Cookeville, Tennessee


August 26, 2021
NOW HIRING - Director of Workforce Development and Education
Director of Workforce Development and Education
Highlands Economic Partnership [under umbrella of] Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce 
1 West 1st Street Cookeville, TN 38501 
Vice President, Economic Development 
Workforce Development and Education Liaisons (x2) 
Full-time, exempt 
Monday – Friday, 8AM – 5PM 
Occasional early mornings and nights. 
Commensurate with experience. 
The Director of Workforce Development and Education works to support the overall mission of the Highlands Economic Partnership which includes advocating for quality education and training programs that develop a skilled workforce to meet the needs of employers and advance the economic wellbeing of partner counties. The primary responsibility of this position is to oversee all aspects of the workforce development and education program of work. Duties include: 
• Work directly with the VP of Economic Development and external economic development partners to market the regional workforce to prospective and existing businesses seeking to create jobs. 
• Work directly with all stakeholder groups who play a critical role in the accomplishment of program of work goals. This includes, but is not limited to, employers, local school districts, higher education partners, and local, regional, and state agencies. 
• Maintain budget oversight for all expenses associated with each of the programs and ensure that proper documentation and timely reporting for expenses and/or grant compliance is achieved. 
• Prepare and communicate program of work progress reports to the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Highlands Economic Partnership Steering Committee, Workforce Development and Education Steering Committee, and other stakeholder groups as needed. 
• Coordinate short-term career exploration and training programs for P-12 students across diverse industry sectors including but not limited to manufacturing, healthcare, information technology, education, and construction. (Program Examples: Highlands Pathways, Paid Internship Program, 8th Grade Career Fair, Speakers Program, Student Job Fair) 
• Coordinate programs aimed at developing and retaining diverse talent in the region. Programs include but are not limited to an annual Counselor Summit, YP Highlands (young professionals’ program), Highlands Leaders (leadership development program), and Family Engagement sessions. 
• Provide technical support to employers and education institutions as they work to expand work-based learning opportunities for students. 
• Support partners at the American Job Center and Upper Cumberland Local Workforce Development Board in connecting employers to WIOA resources (i.e., training grants, youth and adult education programs, veteran resources, etc.) 
• Oversee and support WFD&E Liaison positions as they work to accomplish defined goals. 
• Develop metrics to measure program outcomes and effectiveness. 
• Provide support to organization-wide programs and initiatives and assist with additional duties on an as-needed basis. 
• Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in Education, Social Work, Basic Business/Economics, or a related area 
• 5+ years of experience in Economic Development, Workforce Development, or a related field 
• Impactful leadership skills 
• Strong program management experience 
• Effective listening skills 
• Exceptional verbal and written communication skills 
• Exhibits a strong orientation toward customer service 
• Flexible, self-starter with ability to manage time, organize, and prioritize tasks 
• Attention to detail and ability to multitask 
• Builds and maintains good working relationships and displays a positive attitude and excellent interpersonal skills when interacting with diverse partners and department staff 
• Proficiency using Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, One Drive) 
• Willingness to learn new skills and apply them to work tasks 
• Grant writing experience 
• Graphic design knowledge (Canva, Adobe Suite, etc.) 
• iWork Suite experience (Pages, Keynote, and Numbers) 
• Social media content management 
• Resume 
• Cover Letter 
• List of three references with contact information 
Accepting applications until position is filled. 
Lynne Matthews 
Vice President, Operations 
The Highlands Economic Partnership, under the umbrella of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, is committed to providing equal employment opportunity to all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, or any other criteria protected by local, state, or federal law.