Nine years after his plumbing company collapsed at the height of the credit crunch, Clint Barta is feeling confident enough to start again.
“It’s only been days, so it’s a bit slow,” says Barta who has been in the business for 33 years. “But I’m meeting with a builder tomorrow.”
The plumber had to lay off 75 employees back in 2008 and commuted daily for an out-of-town job to keep his family afloat.
“For years, we saw nothing in this town,” he says. “But now we live in ‘Trump times’ and it’s all starting to change”.
Barta lives in Jamestown, a tiny town of 1,900 people nestled in the fertile hills of north Tennessee. An area “with 230 churches and just one pub”, as some locals describe it.
It’s a two-hour drive from here to the nearest city, and the busy streets and shining high-rises of the state capital Nashville feel like a world away.
In Jamestown, the streets that make up the town centre are deserted.
A short walk takes you past row upon row of empty shops with bare shelves, broken blinds, and months’ worth of post piling up under the doors.
There are dusty shop fronts, a florist with plastic funeral wreaths in the window, a thrift store, a few sun-bleached ‘For Sale’ signs.
Between 2008 and 2012 official statistics show Jamestown had the sixth lowest median household income of any town in the US. And by 2015 over half of its population was living below the poverty line.
But since Donald Trump won the election in November 2016, there’s a new sense of optimism in the air.
“I am hopeful about his promise of bringing jobs back, I have already experienced it myself with my business reopening”, says Clint Barta. “Trump is a businessman and I’d rather have a businessman in office than a politician.”
Many echo his optimism. Voters in Jamestown and the surrounding Fentress County came out overwhelmingly in favour of the Republican candidate, who won 82.5% of the local vote.
“[We are] Republicans through and through, there’s no denying it,” Barta laughs.
Read more at the BBC.