Last month, 12 new communities joined the Tennessee Downtowns program: Ashland City, Crossville, Dickson, Gainesboro, Hohenwald, Humboldt, Lenoir City, Livingston, Lynchburg, Manchester, Wartburg and Woodbury. While we are normally only able to choose six communities each round, we were able to providing funding to 12 communities because of the Rural Economic Opportunity Act. Congratulations to these communities for making efforts to revitalize their downtown commercial districts and create sustainable economies in throughout Tennessee.
GOVERNOR’S TRIP TO ASIA
Our department is always looking for opportunities to increase foreign direct investment in our state. Last year alone, foreign investments totaled $2.25 billion in capital and created more than 7,800 new jobs.
In May, I traveled with Gov. Haslam to Asia where we covered three countries and eight cities in the span of 10 days. With stops in Korea, Japan and China – Gov. Haslam’s first official visit to China as governor – we tried to make the very most of our time by fitting in as many meetings as possible on each leg of the trip. At times it was exhausting, but sharing the Tennessee story with over 200 companies was extremely rewarding. One of the best parts of the story that I always got to tell was that our state is led by a governor who is a businessman and understands business. Gov. Haslam talks often about how our state is really a 33,000-person customer service organization, serving both the people and the businesses of Tennessee: a message that always resonated with our audiences. We are fortunate to have him leading our state, and my team was fortunate to have him out shaking hands and sharing the Tennessee story throughout Asia.
TRIPLE TRIPLE-A BOND RATING
In May, for the first time since 2000 and for only the second time in state history, Tennessee received a triple triple-A rating from the credit ratings agencies. Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services conducted a mid-year review and upgraded Tennessee’s rating from AA+ to AAA. The other two rating agencies, Moody’s Investors Services and Fitch Ratings, have provided Tennessee with their highest ratings of Aaa and AAA since 2010.
Tennessee now holds the highest bond ratings issued by all three major credit rating agencies. The state’s triple triple-A status reflects the extremely strong confidence the rating agencies have in the state’s capacity to meet its financial commitments.
GOLD SHOVEL AWARD
For the second consecutive year, Tennessee has received a Gold Shovel Award from Area Development in recognition of projects undertaken in 2015 creating a significant number of high-value-added new jobs as well as investment. The annual awards recognize state economic development agencies that drive significant job creation through innovative policies, infrastructure improvements, processes and promotions that attract new employers as well as investments in expanded facilities. In addition to the Gold Shovel Award received this year, Tennessee also earned Gold Shovels in 2012 and 2009, and Silver Shovels in 2011 and 2010.
In May, Tennessee hosted the 9th Annual Southeast US-Canadian Provinces (SEUS) Conference in Nashville, which was attended by cabinet heads of 12 Southeastern Atlantic Canadian Provinces. The conference focused on business-to-business meetings as well as meetings for commissioners and ministers of economics and commerce from both nations. With more than 70 Canadian companies located in Tennessee, we are grateful to have such a strong partnership with Canada. The conference was a great success, and I look forward to growing our relationship with Canada in the years ahead.
Thanks to everyone for helping to make all of these great things possible. From our General Assembly, to our companies, communities, stakeholders and partners across the state, thank you for being part of Team Tennessee and moving our state forward toward an even brighter future.