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"Together Tennessee" Explores New Vision for the State

March 24, 2008

Nashville, TN - Healthier neighborhoods and healthier and more productive people. That's what Tennessee's state and local leaders in business, social services, education, health care and the courts would like to see.

They'll figure out how to get there this week at the "Together Tennessee" conference. After analyzing just what is and isn't working to produce a high quality of life for Tennesseans, especially the most vulnerable, they'll work on enlisting help from corporate America.

Shelby Tabeling, executive director of the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare, says the 500 or so people taking part will consider ways to lower infant mortality, improve education and expand health care, and then they'll call on the business community to pitch in.

"There are some key interventions that can take place early in people's lives that are going to have long-term positive outcomes."

She lists parenting education, youth development and substance-abuse education as a few up-front investments businesses can help make to achieve those payoffs.

When social services succeed, people lead productive, independent lives. In addition, Tabeling points out, businesses stand to benefit because more people will be available for the workforce.

"Positive things for Tennessee: It's going to increase our tax base, and it will help attract new jobs to Tennessee."

The 95th Annual "Together Tennessee" conference takes place March 25-27 at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, Nashville.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - TN