economic development

Lee to make first economic development announcement in Memphis?

UPDATE: An updated public schedule  has the governor attending an “economic development announcement” in Memphis at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. The location for the announcement is outside the old Gibson Guitar building on South B.B. King Boulevard.

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The Daily Memphian reports Gov. Bill Lee is expected to make his first economic development announcement in Memphis on Tuesday.

Speculation surrounds whether the announcement will have to do with FedEx Logistics and a potential move into the Gibson Guitar building downtown.

Shelby County lawmakers were told Monday by Lee’s office there will be an announcement in Memphis on Tuesday morning, the news site learned.

FedEx’s possible plans for the Gibson building came into discussion after the sold it in 2017. But the company issued a statement in November to say “FedEx Trade Networks can confirm it is no longer considering the Gibson Guitar Factory building as a potential option for relocation of its headquarters.”

FedEx Logistics currently has corporate offices in East Memphis and around the  area.

 

Volkswagen chooses Chattanooga for electric vehicle production

Volkswagen has chosen its lone U.S. assembly plant in Chattanooga to build electric vehicles for the North American market. The German automaker said it will invest $800 million and create 1,000 jobs. The first electric vehicle is schedule to be produced in Chattanooga by 2022.

Here is a release from Gov. Bill Haslam’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe along with Volkswagen AG announced today that Chattanooga will be home to the company’s first electric vehicle manufacturing facility in North America.

The project represents an investment of $800 million by Volkswagen and the creation of 1,000 jobs in Hamilton County.

“The shift toward electric vehicles is a trend that can be seen worldwide, and Volkswagen’s decision to locate its first North American EV manufacturing facility in Chattanooga underscores Tennessee’s manufacturing strength and highly-skilled workforce,” Haslam said. “As one of Hamilton County’s top employers, these additional 1,000 jobs will have a lasting impact on the region. I thank Volkswagen for its partnership and also applaud the company for its ongoing commitment to education and workforce alignment, which helps Tennessee build a pipeline of talent for years to come.”

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Ag tech company Indigo bringing 700 jobs to Memphis

A release from Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Indigo Ag, Inc. President and CEO David Perry announced today that the agricultural technology company will establish the headquarters for its North American commercial operations in Memphis.

Indigo will invest nearly $6.6 million and create over 700 jobs in Memphis over the next three years.

“I’m extremely pleased to see Indigo create hundreds of corporate office jobs in Memphis with this expansion,” Haslam said. “Indigo is one of the fastest growing startups in the country, and the decision to make Memphis such a vital part of its future growth is a testament to Tennessee’s vibrant economy and skilled workforce.”

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Textile mill that planned 1,000 jobs in Pikeville only employs 26

Only 26 positions have been filled more than a year after Gov. Bill Haslam traveled to Pikeville to announce that a new textile company would bring 1,000 jobs to Bledsoe County, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. While Textile Corporation of America has received $3 million in state aid, the company has yet to install any sewing or stitching equipment at the site.

The owners of the company are engaged in a court battle about who is in control of the enterprise, and nearly $30,000 in property taxes have yet been paid.

“Somebody got $3 million from the state of Tennessee, and where that money has gone? I don’t know,” Dunlap attorney Tommy Austin said during a chancery court hearing over a proposed foreclosure action

Textile Corp. manager Karim Sadruddin said at the hearing that the company plans to start hiring soon and that it plans to have 300 workers by the end of the year and the full 1,000 within five years.

“We had unfortunate and unforeseen issues, but we are committed to the plant and people of Pikeville,” Sadruddin said.

Fitzgerald Glider blames EPA rules — which Diane Black sought to block — as it cuts production, lays off employees

Fitzgerald Glider Kits, the Crossville-based company that stirred controversy earlier this year over dealings with U.S. Rep. Diane Black involving EPA rules for the old diesel engines it uses in producing trucks, has slashed its production and is laying off many employees, reports the Upper Cumberland Business Journal. The company blames EPA rules, which Black had pushed to repeal.

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Fitzhugh seeks AG opinion on regulation of chicken farms (with almost 600 more needed to supply Tyson Foods in West TN)

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, who is running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, has asked for a state attorney general’s opinion on legal issues surrounding a planned Tyson Foods chicken processing plant at Humboldt and 590 new commercial chicken farm operations that will be needed to supply poultry for the plant and an expanding Tyson operation at Union City.

Groundbreaking for the new facility was held Wednesday, though Tennessee Star reports the state Department of Environment and Conservation has so far denied two water pollution runoff permits needed for construction of the processing plant. In a follow-up article today, the online arch-conservative conservative website notes that Karl Dean, also running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, was on hand for the groundbreaking event — or, in the Star’s words, “cheering ‘big meats’ newest location.” It references a Dean Facebook post saying Tyson will be “a great partner in making sure we continue to have the workforce for good jobs.”

At the ceremony, Tyson officials announced a $500,000 grant to Gibson County, reports the Jackson Sun.

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Black wants Memphis Megasite redo; other guber candidates would stay the project’s course

Diane Black has taken a strikingly different stance on developing the Memphis Regional Megasite in Haywood County notes the Jackson Sun in a Thursday article rounding up comments from other gubernatorial candidates on the subject. Black proposes to turn the megasite into an “agricultural hub” instead of continuing the so-far-unsuccessful effort to get a big new business located there.

Black outlined her proposal in an Commercial Appeal op-ed piece back in late April, declaring the project has been “a boondoggle from the beginning” and “thoroughly mismanaged by the bureaucrats in Nashville” – including, presumably, fellow GOP gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd, who headed the Department of Economic and Community Development for a period of the megasite’s development.

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Trump tariffs get TN criticism and cause concern over economic impact

Republicans are bitterly protesting the Trump administration’s decision to impose sweeping tariffs on U.S. allies with Tennessee’s two U.S. senators among them. Economically, there are suggestions Tennessee could suffer more than most states because of reliance on vehicle manufacturing and, politically, Politico reports Republicans are alarmed that the White House ignored their frenzied lobbying campaign and afraid that the party could suffer at the polls in November.

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April figures show TN employment higher, wages lower

Tennessee employers added 45,000 jobs across the state in the past year, lowering the state’s seasonally-adjusted jobless rate from 4 percent a year ago to 3.4 percent last month, reports the Times Free Press. But the average hourly wage paid Tennessee workers was lower than a year ago.

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Guber forum: Harwell and Boyd clash on ECD grants; Fitzhugh criticizes Dean

In a gubernatorial candidate forum Tuesday, House Speaker Beth Harwell promised, if elected, to reject any state-funded financial incentives for businesses moving into Middle Tennessee, reports The Tennessean. Fellow Republican candidate Randy Boyd, a former ECD commissioner, rejected the idea.

On the Democratic side, House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh criticized his primary opponent, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, on his handling of federal relief funding after a 2010 flood hit the city.

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