About the Area
Cookeville is located about halfway between Knoxville and Nashville on Interstate 40. It is at the intersection of I-40 and Highway 111, approximately 100 miles west of Knoxville, 80 miles east of Nashville, and 80 miles north of Chattanooga.
Putnam County is a rapidly growing area located in the eastern portion of middle Tennessee. The county is home for some 62,000 people and its largest city, Cookeville, has about 26,000 residents. Tennessee Technological University is located in Cookeville and provides excellent educational opportunities for some 8,500 students.
The area's growth may be documented by analyzing a number of economic data series that are available on the local level. Putnam County's population has increased by 21 percent since 1990. According to the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association, Cookeville is one of the top 5 most economical cities in the nation. (4th quarter of 2002)
Total employment in the county has increased by 26%. Non-manufacturing jobs increased 42% during the last ten years.
The result of this population and job growth may be seen in other economic indicators. Bank deposits in the County have increased by 62% while local sales tax collections increased by 128%. Assessed value of property increased 111%.
The increased economic activity may be tied directly to the growth in personal income in the county. At a current level of approximately $889.3 million, personal income has increased some 84% during the latest ten-year period.
Finally, the most impressive indicator of economic growth may be found in data reflecting retail sales for the area. From 1992 to 2002, retail sales increased by 110%. Significant growth in the number of retail outlets and increases in income have contributed to this growth. It is also assumed, but undocumented, that the increase in variety and availability of retail outlets has contributed to more persons coming into the county to shop while fewer residents leave the county for specialized purchases.
Taken as a whole, all the foregoing indicators point to an area that is experiencing solid growth. Especially significant is the fact that this growth has come about without unduly taxing the capacity of the area's infrastructure to expand to meet new needs. The schools, roads, water and sewer facilities, etc. that have been associated with this growth have been implemented without major increases in local taxes.
Current estimates reflect that about 42,000, or 70% of the residents of Putnam County live in the greater Cookeville area, and 86% of the total sales collections in the county are collected in Cookeville. Therefore, it is my opinion that the City of Cookeville is a major contributor to the data discussed in this article. Reading this information makes me very proud of our community and reminds me just how great it is to live in Cookeville.
Cookeville is a regional center for employment, education, retailing, health care, and recreational/cultural activities. Approximately 15,000 Upper Cumberland Region residents travel to Cookeville each day to work, attend school, received health care, shop, or participated in leisure time activities.
A wide variety of recreational and cultural opportunities are provided for residents of Putnam County and the Upper Cumberland Region by local governments, the state park system, civic clubs and community organizations. Cane Creek Park, a 260-acre park with a 56-acre lake is owned and operated by the City of Cookeville's Department of Leisure Services. Three state parks offer many camping, picnicking, hiking, and other recreational opportunities. Three Corps of Engineer lakes, with over 1,200 miles of shorelines, are within a 30-minute drive. The Cookeville Drama Center offers a full schedule of touring plays and performances plus presentations by the Cookeville Summer Theatre and the Cookeville Children's Theatre. The Tech Community Symphony, in operation since 1963, presents several concerts each year. Putnam County's Parks and Recreation Department, the City of Cookeville's Leisure Services Department, and the YMCA work together to provide a comprehensive recreational program. There are over 100 active civic clubs and community organizations in the county.
Cookeville and Putnam County have a consolidated school system. The Putnam County Board of Education operates fourteen schools with an enrollment of approximately 9,200 students. Six elementary schools, (grades K-4), two middle schools, (grades 5 & 6 and grades 7 & 8), an alternative school, and a high school (grades 9 - 12), and an adult high school are located in Cookeville. The high school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Cookeville High School serves as a comprehensive vocational education center for all Putnam County Schools. Since 1989, Putnam County has received the Governor's A+ Award for Excellence in Education, and ACT scores of Putnam County students are above the national average. In addition, two state-supported vocational schools serve Putnam County.