Legislature welcomes more top
companies to the Volunteer State
Throughout the legislative session, Tennesseans were greeted with news that top companies are both coming to Tennessee or existing business are expanding their operations throughout the state. This is being done mainly because conservative legislators have fought hard to maintain Tennessee’s status as a strong right-to-work, no income tax state.
Early in the session, Gov. Bill Haslam welcomed a major company to Tennessee that will provide valuable employment opportunities for citizens. U.S. Nitrogen, LLC selected Tennessee to be the location for its brand new liquid ammonium nitrate plant. The company was recruited to the state by the governor and legislators.
The company will bring nearly $110 million to the local economy as well as 80 jobs for talented Tennesseans. The move was called yet another sign that Tennessee’s leadership is committed to improving the workforce opportunities for citizens by recruiting and retaining some of the top companies in the United States to the Volunteer State.
Southeast Tennessee received additional good news as it seeks to brand itself as the number one destination for high quality jobs in the South. Wacker Chemical, a worldwide manufacturer of numerous products, hosted a groundbreaking at the location of its soon-to-open operations facility in Bradley County. The company announced it would invest $1.45 billion into the plant — the largest single private investment in the Chattanooga area.
The company joins other corporate giants who have recently joined the growing number of top-tier companies to call the Volunteer State home like Volkswagen, Electrolux, Hemlock Semiconductor, Amazon and others.
State Rep. Eric Watson from the area stated, “Bradley County and East Tennessee are leading the way back in our state from the depths of the Great Recession because of projects like this new Wacker Chemie facility.”
Wacker increased its investment in Bradley County, adding nearly a half-billion additional dollars and 150 more jobs to the originally planned 500 positions.
Later in the session, another major company grabbed the headlines. While the country is still grappling with the effects of a harsh recession, Tennessee’s economy continues to prove many experts wrong. In a joint statement, the governor and commissioner of Economic and Community Development announced VICAM was expanding its facility in the Volunteer State. The state has seen a surge of relocations and growth from many companies over the last few years that view Tennessee as a location with a strong and qualified worker base.
The Japanese company is expanding its Coffee County manufacturing facility with a $32 million investment that will provide 70 new jobs to the area.
One representative stated, “Tennesseans want government to get out of the way so businesses can grow and expand. Our leadership team in Nashville is making sure that happens.”
The ECD commissioner stated this is another win for Tennessee’s push to improve unemployment, especially in rural counties. The governor added, “Japan has long been Tennessee’s largest foreign investor nation, and we are particularly grateful for the growing presence of Japanese companies in the Volunteer State and the investment and jobs they bring.”
Early in the legislative session, it was announced the Port of Cates Landing Project in Lake County was going to be funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation to the tune of $13 million. The state reserved funds in the Department of Transportation funding and the overall budget of $7 million to uphold Tennessee’s portion of the partnership.
The governor said, “I was pleased to announce that night (in his State of the State Address) that one of the limited things the state can fund this year, that I was recommending to the Legislature, was to add $7 million in state funding for this project for the Port of Cates Landing.”
A conservative representative from West Tennessee who worked hard for the project commended the announcement saying it fulfills the dreams of a lot of people and will pay off for many years.
“Generations and generations are going to reap the benefits of the folks that had the imagination and the creativity to put this together,” the representative said.
House leaders applaud
Showing their mutual commitment to paving the way for job creation in the private sector, House leaders welcomed news of the Jobs4TN plan presented by the administration.
The governor and Economic and Community Development commissioner (ECD) announced the plan, which lays out the administration’s economic development strategy resulting from a top-to-bottom review of the department. The plan is consistent with the principles laid out by the leadership of the General Assembly and implores unique initiatives to pave the way for job creation in Tennessee. The plan focuses on: Prioritizing the strategic recruitment of target industries; assisting existing Tennessee businesses in expansions and remaining competitive; supporting regional and rural economic development strategies; and investing in innovation and reducing business regulation.
“My top priority is for Tennessee to be the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs,” said the governor. “Our Jobs4TN plan is a blueprint for doing just that. By leveraging our existing assets in each region, we will be able to attract new businesses to the state while helping our existing businesses expand and remain competitive. We will also be making significant investments in innovation to position Tennessee as a national leader well into the future.”
The plan was developed over a 45-day period and involved interviews with more than 300 stakeholders, community leaders and national experts as well as through seven roundtables across Tennessee that were hosted by legislators.
House leadership applauded the plan, noting a clear vision for reducing regulations and passing common sense reforms will encourage job growth throughout Tennessee. This plan is an innovative blueprint that respects the unique aspects each region brings to the table and seeks out companies that will partner with those areas. The governor and this majority, once more, prove we are committed to economic development in this state.