Posted on: Thursday - Oct 13, 2016

We had a busy and exciting third quarter. As a state, we added a few more accolades to the list, including “State of the Year,” and we continue to create jobs as companies locate and grow in Tennessee. I also had the opportunity to travel throughout the state presenting communities with “big checks” for various grants, and I can truly say that no one is disappointed to see you when you’re carrying one of those. As always, we want to thank the Governor and the members of our legislature who make all of this possible.

There are too many great things that happened during the third quarter to list them all, but following are a few of the highlights:

Since the start of the year through the end of the quarter, we have secured 14,290 job commitments from 129 companies representing $2.66 billion in capital investment.  We are poised to have a great fourth quarter with many exciting projects in the pipeline and we expect to finish strong.  

We celebrated a number of projects this quarter, including 1,370 new job commitments in a span of only four days!

  • EuroTranciatura USA: 170 jobs in Paris
  • Teleperformance: 500 jobs in Bristol
  • Lowe’s: 600 jobs in Coopertown
  • Precision Military Aerodynamics: 100 jobs in Dunlap

Tennessee was named 2016 “State of the Year” by Southern Business & Development magazine in July, which was outstanding news to receive after coming off of our 1,370 jobs week. Our state was chosen for its project totals and the variety of the industry sectors that invested in Tennessee and created jobs.

According to the report, there was a possibility Tennessee could have shared “Co-States of the Year” with Alabama, but fortunately for us, our neighboring state fell short by six projects. This was a big win for Team Tennessee and wouldn’t have been possible without all of the outstanding partnerships in place throughout the state that help these projects become a reality.

More great news! 

In August, the Brookings Institution released a report on advanced industry job growth since 2013. Tennessee topped the list with 4.6 percent annual growth for these high-skilled jobs. With the highest percentage growth rate among U.S. states, Tennessee outpaced the national average of 2.46 percent annual advanced industry job growth. This recognition shows we’re making tremendous progress by adding highly-skilled jobs faster than any other state in the country. But most importantly, it shows that Tennessee is getting higher paying jobs that will have a meaningful impact on residents throughout the state.

Even more great news!

For the second time in three years, Tennessee was ranked the top state in the nation for job creation resulting from foreign direct investment, according to IBM’s Global Location Trends report. The state’s first place ranking shows that Tennessee is extremely well-positioned in the global marketplace, and our department’s significant emphasis on recruiting international companies is paying off. 

For years, Tennessee has been a prime choice for investments from Japanese companies, but this recognition highlights that interest in Tennessee now comes from all over the world. Today, more than 123,000 Tennesseans are employed by foreign-owned companies, and we only want to see that number grow.

In July, we announced the recipients of two different grants to benefit communities throughout the state. Funding for these grants are a part of TNECD’s Rural Economic Development Fund, which was launched last fall and designed to build capacity for transformative economic development strategies in rural Tennessee.

First was the ThreeStar Competitive Enhancement Grant, which was awarded to 11 counties. These grants will be used for a variety of local programs addressing public safety, health, education and workforce development. In total, TNECD has awarded $250,000 to Tennessee communities through the ThreeStar Competitive Enhancement Grant program.

In addition to the ThreeStar grants, 29 communities were chosen to receive over $999,000 in Tourism Enhancement Grants. Jointly funded by TNECD and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development with assistance from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the grants assist cities and counties in improving local assets to increase the economic impact of tourism. Tourist development is economic development, and with the assistance of this grant, communities throughout Tennessee will be able to invest in their assets and grow their local economy.

In January, TNECD launched a statewide assessment of broadband access and usage by Tennessee businesses and households. Broadband has been a critical topic for our team as Tennessee’s economic future is directly tied to our broadband access. It impacts our quality of life, educational opportunities, healthcare and our businesses’ ability to compete.

The assessment ran through mid-March and more than 23,000 Tennessee residents and businesses responded to the survey. What we found is that 13 percent of Tennesseans, or 834,545 people, do not have access to broadband at the federal standard of 25 megabytes per second of download speed and three megabytes per second of upload speed.

The department commissioned this report to establish benchmarks on broadband access in Tennessee. Not every option included in the report may be the answer for Tennessee, nor is there one simple solution. But with the menu of options provided in the study, decision makers can begin a dialogue to find a win-win-win combination to ensure our communities have the broadband they need.

Over the summer, the communications and marketing team launched a contest on social media in search of Tennessee’s best burger. The competition began with almost 900 responses with more than 250 submissions of restaurants located throughout the state. The top restaurants were narrowed down to 16, then eight, four and finally the top two.

After four rounds of voting and 10,000 votes leading up to the final round, Brownsville Burger Basket won the title of “Tennessee’s Best Burger,” beating Jumbo House in Columbia by a mere 14 votes. I was blown away by how many people participated in the contest and rallied behind their hometown favorites.

We made a trip to Brownsville to present them with a trophy, and you could definitely feel an overwhelming amount of community support in the restaurant that day. If you’re ever in the Brownsville area, be sure to stop by the Burger Basket. You won’t be disappointed!

In late September, several of my colleagues from TNECD and I traveled to Asia to attend the 38th Annual Joint Meeting of the Southeast U.S./Japan and the Japan-U.S. Southeast Associations (SEUS Japan). This prestigious gathering of global business leaders celebrates longstanding economic and cultural ties and offers delegates from Japan and seven Southeastern U.S. member states unparalleled opportunities to forge new ones.

During the conference, SEUS-JP commenced with state hosted receptions, of which Tennessee hosted the largest group. More than 75 individuals attended representing Tennessee and Japanese business interests. The next day was filled with networking, panels and keynote speeches elucidating on the string relationships between not only Tennessee, but also the strong relationship between the Southeast U.S. and Japan. The event ended in a ceremonial Kagami biraki in breaking the Sake casks. This was a great opportunity to build both business and cultural relationships.

We just wrapped up a very successful week focusing on Tennessee’s strong manufacturing sector and are gearing up for the annual Governor’s Conference later this month. We have a great schedule planned, and I hope to see all of you in Nashville to celebrate Team Tennessee MVPs October 27-28.