Gov. Bill Lee’s first executive order calls for accelerated development in Tennessee’s distressed rural counties. Perry County is on the list.

The order is a first step to move forward with plans to spur improvements in 15 rural distressed counties in Tennessee, meaning they are among the 10 percent most economically challenged counties in the nation by the Appalachian Regional Commission, which prepares an annual index.

The executive order requires all state executive departments to provide recommendations for how they can better serve rural Tennessee through a “statement of rural impact.”

The 22 departments involved in the review have until May 31 to issue their rural impact statements to explain how they serve rural Tennessee. By June 30, each department must release its recommendations for improving service to rural areas.

The order calls for expanding broadband in rural communities to increase economic and educational opportunities, along with investing in high school vocational training and agricultural education and increasing access to healthcare in rural Tennessee.

The 15 distressed counties in Tennessee include: Lake, Lauderdale, Hardeman, McNairy, Perry, Jackson, Clay, Grundy, Van Buren, Bledsoe, Fentress, Morgan, Scott, Hancock and Cocke.