Monday, June 15, 2009

Tennessee: Positioned to compete

NASHVILLE — The sluggish economy isn't slowing down Tennessee's chief economic recruiter.

After landing three billion-dollar investments since last July -- including two in Southeast Tennessee -- Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber says he's working to harvest upstream and downstream business ties to those investments for the Volunteer State.

"To have an eight-month period where we had Volkswagen, Hemlock Semiconductor and Wacker Chemical each announce projects in excess of $1 billion apiece is a trifecta that I don't think anyone imagined that the state of Tennessee would win," Mr. Kisber said. "I think we're now seeing success even in this very challenging economy."

The lucrative announcements in the past couple of years are payoffs, in part, from years of effort to upgrade the state's appeal to growing businesses, he said.

Tennessee lured more than $5.4 billion in new capital investment in 2008 and is on pace for another multibillion-dollar recruitment year in 2009, Mr. Kisber said. Investments from industry recruited or expanded since 2003 come to more than $27.5 billion, adding 167,419 jobs.

"In recent years, Tennessee has been on everybody's radar," said Mark Crawford, an editor for Area Development magazine, which awarded the Volunteer State its top "Gold Shovel" award last week.

Last year, Site Selection magazine recognized Tennessee as having the second-best business climate among the 50 states, behind only North Carolina. More here.

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