Ayers Foundation Trust Launches Come Home Tennessee Initiative for Rural Economic Growth
Today, the Ayers Foundation Trust launched a new statewide initiative to grow Tennessee’s rural economies called Come Home Tennessee and officially opened the Ayers Entrepreneur Center, a new regional co-working facility in Parsons, Tenn.
Governor Bill Lee and other dignitaries joined Ayers Foundation Trust founders, Jim and Janet Ayers, to unveil the new Come Home Tennessee initiative that aims to reduce the number of economically distressed and at-risk counties in the state. The Ayers Entrepreneur Center will be a central employment hub that offers co-working space, training, and support to rural residents in the area.
Come Home Tennessee will seek to connect the skilled alumni of the nationally-recognized Ayers Scholars Program and other Tennesseans with local employers and remote work opportunities that enable them to remain or return to their hometowns to live, work, and raise their families should they so choose.
“At the Ayers Foundation Trust, we are creating a rural revival in Tennessee,” said Janet Ayers, President of the Ayers Foundation Trust. “Over the last 24 years, we have been incredibly successful at getting our rural students to postsecondary and ensuring they have the support they need to graduate. But if there are not enough job opportunities in our hometowns, then many of those graduates are forced to leave to find a good paying job elsewhere and they may never come back. We are determined to change that.”
The Ayers Scholars Program is a nationally-recognized highly effective college access and counseling program now working in and delivering outsized results for students in 33 high schools across 21 rural Tennessee counties.
Building from a skilled talent pool of over 17,000 Ayers Scholars Alumni, Come Home Tennessee will actively work to recruit employers, businesses, and remote work opportunities to rural counties, connecting them directly with Ayers Scholars alumni and other Tennesseans.
“Thanks to the incredible support of Governor Bill Lee and the state legislature, we are now helping more rural communities than ever before in all three grand divisions of our state,” said Burton Williams, CEO of the Ayers Foundation Trust. “Come Home Tennessee takes our work to an even higher level by launching one of the largest workforce and economic development projects in the history of the state.”
The Ayers Entrepreneur Center will support the Come Home Tennessee initiative in rural West Tennessee, with local partners already working out of the hub including the Decatur County Chamber of Commerce, a new TCAT Crump LPN program, Mendota Insurance, and L.I. Smith & Associates.
“We are thrilled to see so many employers and partners already embracing the Ayers Entrepreneur Center,” said Shannon Haynes, Chief Prosperity Officer of the Ayers Foundation Trust. “We look forward to growing the economic impact of the center and hope it can be a model that can be replicated in other communities across the state.”
About Ayers Foundation Trust: The Ayers Foundation Trust is a transformative force in rural Tennessee, committed to improving the quality of life for its residents. Founded in 1999 and led by Jim and Janet Ayers, the trust’s primary focus areas include education, conservation, and social welfare. The nationally recognized Ayers Scholars Program has empowered thousands of students to pursue post-secondary education, equipping them with the skills needed for success in the workforce.