KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The recruitment of a Ford plant, reduced government spending and investment in rural counties are among a handful of accomplishments Gov. Bill Lee is touting as 2021 comes to a close.

“From securing the largest economic investment in state history, to reducing the number of distressed counties to an all-time low, we have worked together with Tennesseans for one of the strongest years in state history,” Lee said. “We thank members in the General Assembly for their partnership and look forward to building on this success in 2022.”

This year also marked the 225th anniversary of statehood in Tennessee. In honor of this, the state has been collecting stories from Tennesseans about the state and Lee launched a 95-county tour. Since June 1, there have been events in 51 counties with remaining county stops planned in 2022.

Major accomplishments and investments from 2021 include:

  • Rural development
    • Reduced the number of distressed counties to nine, a 52% decrease in four years.
    • Allocated $500 million to provide high-speed broadband to every Tennessean.
    • Invested $79 million to eliminate the 11,400 TCAT waiting list for high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand jobs and increased apprenticeships by more than 30% across the state.
    • Awarded second round of GIVE grants which will fund 27 projects statewide, serving all economically distressed counties and 25 of the 30 at-risk counties.