Skip to main content

Grant facilitates the completion of The BEAT Center in Fort Payne

TARCOG was proud to be in attendance as Gov. Kay Ivey visited Fort Payne City Schools on Monday, April 8, for the ribbon cutting at the new BEAT Center, a STEM-focused vocational building to provide students with career specific training in three pathways: construction, electric vehicles, and aviation/drone technology
“Fort Payne Schools are trendsetters for career ready education integrated in the local curriculum … so that students have a job by the time they earn their high school diploma,” the governor said. “The range and depth of career tech instruction already offered in the Fort Payne system is quite frankly unrivaled for a system of this size.”
Ivey authorized $1 million in funding through the Appalachian Regional Commission Southern Appalachian Automotive Worker grant for the BEAT Center. TARCOG assisted with the grant application process and post award grant administration.
This morning, a standing room only crowd of public officials, community partners and educators packed the vocational center’s Aviation Technology Room to celebrate the new facility, which fits right in with the governor’s vision for Alabama.
“Since I’ve been governor, we’ve seen business investments of $49 billion, that’s with a B, and we’ve created some 87,000 new jobs,” Ivey said. “We’ve got the momentum, and thanks to vision of Fort Payne School leaders, backed by state and local funding, we are preparing for the Alabama workforce and the economy of the tomorrow, one student at a time.”
The Building, Electric, and Aviation Technology (BEAT) Center will consist of one classroom setting with three simulated workplace bays to house the Building/Construction, Electric Automotive, and Aviation Technology programs. Innovative simulated curriculum programs will be used in each vocational career pathway ensuring that students graduating from each program will be credentialed and capable of being employed in their chosen field.
After the ceremony, Lee Terry, director of TARCOG’s Economic Development and Planning said TARCOG is proud to see the completion of such a wonderful project for Fort Payne City Schools and the students who will benefit from the high quality educational opportunities offered by the BEAT Center.
“We are always happy to assist our member governments with such meaningful projects that will have a lasting impact on our communities,” Terry said.

Regional Safety Action Plan Taking Shape

Surveys underway, Input needed

People stopped by and filled out transportation surveys at TARCOG’s Northeast Alabama Safe Streets for All booth at the Jubilee Market and Art Festival in Scottsboro on March 30. More public outreach to come in April.

What do you see that needs improvement when traveling in Northeast Alabama?

Sidewalks, guardrails, and wider shoulders were discussed as area roadway needs at the Northeast Alabama Safe Streets for All booth at the Jubilee Market and Art Festival in Scottsboro on March 30.

Festival participants stopped by the booth with 30 people completing printed surveys and another 100 taking postcards with the online survey link to help guide planners as they create a new Regional Safety Action Plan for DeKalb, Jackson, Marshall and portions of Limestone and Madison counties.

“This is all part of our public outreach for this plan to make sure the public has a say in what the safety issues are and the areas that need focus,” said Lee Terry, director of economic development and planning.

TARCOG staff along with Alta Planning + Design consultants will be seeking input through in-person engagements at five locations throughout April to conduct surveys as part of developing the plan.

“Traffic experts and data tell one side of the story, but now it’s the drivers who travel Northeast Alabama roadways who are needed to complete the picture,” Lee said.

To encourage participation, those who fill out a survey not only are helping make their roads safer, but they also have a chance to win a $100 gift card which will be given away. Fill out the survey here.

The area project is funded by the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

For more information or any questions or information requests about this process please contact TARCOG Economic Development & Planning Staff at 256-830-0818.

Take the survey

TARCOG pushes for more federal funding

Waiting to meet with U.S. Congressman Robert Aderholt at his office in Washington about funding legislation for agencies like TARCOG were from left, Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments Executive Director Keith Jones, Fayette Mayor Rod Northam, TARCOG Board President Connie Spears, West Alabama Regional Commission Director Dennis Stripling, TARCOG Executive Director Michelle Jordan and Economic and Development Planning Director Lee Terry.

Board President Connie Spears, Executive Director Michelle Jordan and Economic Development and Planning Director Lee Terry met with U.S. Congressman Robert Aderholt in March to talk about legislation that would provide additional funding for economic growth in the TARCOG region.

During a meeting of the National Association of Development Organizations and the Development District Association of Appalachia held in Washington, D.C., Michelle and Lee participated in sessions focused on regional development, the federal landscape, and the programs and policies that matter most to regional development organizations like TARCOG and its stakeholders.

Alabama Councils Reach Out

While in the nation’s capital Michelle and Lee, along with representatives from the Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments and West Alabama Regional Commission scheduled a meeting with Aderholt. During their time with Aderholt and his staff, Michelle and Lee encouraged the passage of the Economic Development Reauthorization Act of 2024 (S. 3891). Lee said it is a bipartisan bill which, if passed, would modernize and update crucial elements of EDA’s statute and its investments for the first time in 20 years.

There are more than 400 Economic Development Districts (EDDs) like TARCOG in the U.S., and each one receives an annual appropriation from EDA. That’s barely enough to cover one full time staff person. Most EDDs, like TARCOG, cover numerous counties, cities and towns, so one staff person covering such a large territory is already stretched thin.

The funding supports an EDD helping:

  • Stakeholders and organizations apply for EDA grants.
  • Administer EDA project funding and assist with project implementation.
  • EDA grantees properly administer and steward the EDQ funding they receive.
  • Lead and leverage local partnerships and help identify local projects that are eligible for EDA funding.
  • Develop Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, provide local planning expertise, which lays the foundation for successful project implementation.

“It’s been on the back burner for 20 years,” Lee said. “The issue with that is the funding for the Economic Development Administration has been basically at the same level from 20 years ago. With inflation along with all the infrastructure work that needs to be done, the funding hasn’t kept pace.”

He said if approved, the new authorization would increase the funding level from about $34.5 million in 2023 to $90 million in 2024, escalating to $130 million by Fiscal Year 2029.

Lee said this change would go a long way to get needed services into communities around the nation.

“By increasing the funding level, it would increase the amount of work we can do for our community partners at no or very little cost,” Lee said.

Grants help small police departments in Madison County

Nearly $100,000 in grant funds are going to police departments in New Hope and Triana in Madison County to help buy new, much needed equipment like body cameras, computers, and more.

TARCOG assisted both departments with applications for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, said Lee Terry, director of Economic Development and Planning.

Lee said the Town of Triana was awarded $48,650 to make purchases or upgrades to equipment like computers, body cameras, firearms and patrol car equipment, including a portable automated external defibrillator (AED) which can be used to assist with heart-related emergencies. Because of the small town’s rural location, police are often the first time-critical responder to arrive on scene’s involving medical emergencies.

Police Chief Gary Powell said the funds will help the two-officer department with two current openings keep up with the town’s population explosion. Triana grew from 496 to 4,300 residents between 2010 and 2023.

“This funding means a lot to a small department like ours,” Powell said.

Lee said The City of New Hope was awarded $41,682.32 to purchase six new body-cameras, and six hand-held tasers.

The new equipment will significantly improve the department’s ability to respond to pressing public safety concerns within New Hope and the surrounding the communities, Lee said. The town is located along US Hwy 431, a major thoroughfare between DeKalb, Jackson, Limestone, and Marshall counties. The location brings a substantial influx of motorists during peak commuting hours, which often requires extensive use of New Hope’s law enforcement resources.

“We appreciate this and the help from TARCOG staff who helped us get this grant to update our cameras and tasers,” said New Hope Police Sgt. Tim Garrett. “It will assist us in our daily duties as we assist our community.”