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Rural counties hope "Big 4" task force considers plans best for all areas of the state, not just cities

As that task force makes decisions, rural counties are hoping their interests will be thought of too, as plans for urban areas may not be best for rural.

CAMPBELL COUNTY, Tenn. — Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis and Chattanooga, Tennessee's four largest cities, are working together to re-open businesses across the state. They're working together in a new task force. 

The group is made up of business leaders and health care professionals appointed by city and county mayors. It will develop recommendations and protocols for reopening.

"We are ready for Tennessee to get back to work, as testing improves we can open up more parts of our state," said Governor Bill Lee on Thursday. 

RELATED: Knoxville, 'Big 4' Tennessee mayors unite to create task force to reopen the economy

As that task force makes decisions, rural counties are hoping they're thought of too, since plans for urban areas may not be best for rural.

"Even though we don't have the numbers you see in a larger city we still have some pretty high performing economies in rural Tennessee," said Campbell County Mayor, E.L. Morton, who is cautiously optimistic.

Morton also said that getting their economy back on track relies on getting people to stop by.

"Tourism is a strong suit as far as our comeback strategy," he said.

His biggest concern lies with family-owned businesses, tourism and the beauty industry. He said that he's still wondering if they can stand the loss in revenue and still have enough energy to restart their businesses.

RELATED: Gov. Lee: Parts of TN with low virus counts might be places that see reopening first

Morton is ready to reopen but agrees it should come in phases, which other state leaders have suggested.

"Select those things that have the lowest risk first then the economic risk has to be balanced well," he said.

He's thankful Governor Lee is recognizing the economic need and hopes decisions will be made — keeping in mind rural counties have limited resources compared to urban areas. 

RELATED: Stimulus Financial Accountability Group created to ensure COVID-19 funds are properly used

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