economic development

Lee touts economic progress in rural areas

Gov. Bill Lee welcomes delegates to a summit on economically distressed counties in Linden on Aug. 13, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has made economic development in rural areas one of his top priorities. At a rural summit at Pickwick Lake on Thursday, the governor touted his achievements so far that have included the number of distressed counties dropping from 19 in 2018 to nine today.

Here’s the release from the governor’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced Tennessee has reduced the state’s number of distressed counties to an all-time low as the Lee Administration focuses on targeted interventions for workforce development and infrastructure.

“Early on, we set a goal that we would have less than 10 distressed counties by 2025,” said Gov. Lee. “By focusing on workforce development and infrastructure improvements, we are down to nine counties and will continue working to get remaining counties on the path to prosperity.”

Distressed counties rank among the 10 percent most economically distressed counties in the nation according to the Appalachian Regional Commission.

In the past four years, Tennessee has cut the number of distressed counties in half from 19 in 2018 to nine today. Since Gov. Lee took office, McNairy, Jackson, Fentress, Morgan, Hardeman, and Wayne counties have moved off the distressed list.

In 2019, Gov. Lee’s first Executive Order directed all state executive departments to issue a statement of rural impact and provide recommendations for better serving rural Tennessee. Key workforce and infrastructure interventions include:

• Creating the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) program and the Future Workforce Initiative to expand access to vocational and technical education.
• Investing $79 million to eliminate the 11,400 TCAT waiting list and increasing apprenticeships by more than 30 percent across the state.
• Allocating $100 million for broadband expansion in the FY21 budget which improves educational outcomes in rural communities.

These targeted strategies have resulted in Tennessee securing 132 projects in rural counties with over 23,000 new job commitments and $12.6 billion in capital investment since 2019.

Today, the Governor’s West Tennessee Rural Opportunity Summit was held in Counce, Tenn. The East Tennessee Summit will be held in November in Newport, Tenn. The Governor’s Rural Summit focuses on at-risk and distressed counties by engaging city and county mayors, education and economic leaders, and cabinet members.

Gunmaker Smith & Wesson moving to Tennessee

Gunmaker Smith & Wesson is moving its headquarters and assembly operations from Massachusetts to Blount County. Gov. Bill Lee’s administration says the deal involves a $125 million investment and 750 new jobs.

Tennessee is also home to Italian gunmaker Barretta and 19 other small arms and ammunition manufacturers.

Here’s the release from Department of Economic and Community Development:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. officials today announced the U.S.-based leader in firearms manufacturing and design will relocate its headquarters and other major operations from Springfield, Massachusetts to Maryville, Tennessee.

In addition to its headquarters, Smith & Wesson will relocate its distribution, assembly, and plastic injection molding operations to Tennessee. The project represents an investment of approximately $125 million and will create 750 new jobs.

Smith & Wesson will locate in Partnership Park North in Blount County, where the company plans to break ground before the end of the year.

Founded in 1852, Smith & Wesson is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and designers of firearms. They manufacture a wide array of handguns (including revolvers and pistols), long guns (including modern sporting rifles, bolt action rifles, and shotguns), handcuffs, suppressors, and other firearm-related products for sale to a wide variety of customers, including firearm enthusiasts, collectors, hunters, sportsmen, competitive shooters, individuals desiring home and personal protection, law enforcement and security agencies and officers, and military agencies in the United States and throughout the world.

Smith & Wesson joins more than 20 small arms and ammunition manufacturers located in Tennessee. Tennessee ranks No. 1 in the nation for employment in the small arms and ammunition sector, with employment increasing by 54% over the last five years.

Since 2017, TNECD has supported 10 economic development projects in Blount County, resulting in approximately 3,100 job commitments and $1.4 billion in capital investment.

NTT, title sponsor of IndyCar, announces 350 jobs coming to Nashville

Image credit: IndyCar.

Japanese information technology company NTT DATA Corp. is spending $10 million to open a Nashville office and hire 350 employees. The company is the title sponsor of the IndyCar series, which is scheduled to run its first race on the streets of Nashville in August.

NTT is ranked No. 62 on the fortune Global 500, employing 130,000 people in more than 50 countries.

“NTT DATA’s decision to locate a strategic innovation and digital delivery center in Nashville underscores the vibrant economy and highly-skilled workforce of the entire Nashville region,” Gov. Bill Lee said in a statement.

Here’s the release from the state:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and NTT DATA officials announced today that the company will establish an innovation and digital delivery center in Nashville.

The global IT services leader will invest $9.9 million and create 350 jobs, including a focus on healthcare and manufacturing technology, as a result of the project.

NTT DATA’s new center will focus on developing and deploying digital and industry skills within the IT sector. The company will provide U.S.-based service delivery to local, national and international clients and serve as a cross-industry and technology showcase from its office in downtown Nashville’s Capitol View.

NTT DATA Corporation, based in Tokyo, Japan, is one of the world’s largest IT and business service providers. Ranked 62nd in the Fortune Global 500, NTT DATA Corporation employs 130,000 people worldwide and delivers services in more than 50 countries. NTT DATA Services is a U.S.-based division with headquarters in Plano, Texas that employs more than 50,000 professionals who work with the world’s leading brands.

Over the last five years, TNECD has supported nearly 65 economic development projects in Davidson County, resulting in more than 18,000 job commitments and $2 billion in capital investment.

Facebook to build $800M datacenter in Gallatin

A rendering of the new Facebook datacenter in Gallatin.

Social media giant Facebook is building an $800 million datacenter in Gallatin, according to the state Department of Economic and Community Development. More than 1,100 construction workers are expected to work on the project at its peak.

Here’s the ECD release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) officials announced today that the global technology company will invest $800 million to build a new state-of-the-art data center in Gallatin.

Once operational, the project is estimated to support approximately 100 jobs and will have more than 1,100 construction workers on site at peak. The data center will support a variety of positions and job types, from technical operations, electricians, logistics staff, security and more. Construction has just begun on the 982,000-square-foot facility.

The Facebook Gallatin Data Center will be among the most advanced, energy- and water- efficient data center facilities in the world. It will be supported by 100 percent renewable energy, will use 80 percent less water than the average, and, once completed, will be LEED Gold certified. Facebook has already partnered with the TVA to bring 220 MW of new solar energy to the Tennessee Valley to support Facebook’s operations in the region.

The announcement is the culmination of a three-year recruitment effort by the Gallatin Economic Development Agency, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and Tennessee Valley Authority.

Facebook will join several other large brand names located in the Gallatin Industrial Park, including Beretta USA, Gap and SERVPRO.

Since 2015, TNECD has supported 13 economic development projects in Sumner County, resulting in more than 2,000 job commitments and $223 million in capital investment.

QUOTES

“It is a testament to the quality of our business environment and the competitive spirit of our state that in this economy we are able to attract one of the world’s largest companies to our state. We welcome Facebook to Tennessee, and we are excited about the investment, quality jobs and economic opportunity they will bring to Gallatin.” – Gov. Bill Lee

“Tennessee is known for the companies that call our state home, and we are proud to welcome another globally recognized brand to our roster. Facebook could have chosen anywhere in the world for its newest state-of-the-art data center, and it means a great deal that the company has chosen Gallatin. This substantial investment will make a lasting impact on Sumner County for years to come, and we thank Facebook for its confidence in Tennessee.” – TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe

“We chose Gallatin because of its terrific infrastructure, talented workforce, and the spirit of partnership the community offered. This technology is actually what makes Facebook work, allowing people around the world to connect to each other. We are thrilled to be joining the Gallatin community.” – Rachel Peterson, VP of Data Center Strategy, Facebook

“Our community made the decision three years ago to pursue technology jobs as part of our economic development strategy. We are pleased to welcome Facebook to Gallatin, and we look forward to the positive impact they will have on our city.” – Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown

“TVA congratulates Facebook on its decision to locate and create quality job opportunities and significant investment in Gallatin. This public-private partnership demonstrates the strength of TVA’s public power model to deliver clean, renewable energy at competitive costs to stimulate investment and jobs that help communities grow. We are building the energy system of the future, and we are proud to work partners like Gallatin Department of Electricity, the City of Gallatin and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to help bring more top-tier companies like Facebook into our region.”  – John Bradley, TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development

“This is a huge investment by Facebook and is tremendous news for Sumner County. It is a testament not only to the strong talent pool we have in our local workforce, but to the hard work done for many months by Gallatin’s Economic Development team, Governor Bill Lee, Commissioner Bob Rolfe, and other essential community partners to bring these high quality jobs home. I was proud to partner with them. It will also be a catalyst for more companies to see all that Sumner County and Gallatin have to offer with our low taxes, high quality of life, prime location and business friendly environment.” – Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin)

Korean power equipment maker buys Mitsubishi transformer plant in Memphis

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at an announcement that Korean electric power equipment maker HICO will buy a transformer plant in Memphis on Dec. 13, 2019. (Photo: Gov. Bill Lee’s office)

Korean electric power equipment maker Hyosung Heavy Industries is buying a Memphis transformer plant from Mitsubishi, which had planned to shutter the facility and lay off 160 workers. The HICO deal involves an $87 million investment and the creation of 410 jobs over the next seven years.

Here’s the release from state Department of Economic and Community Development:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Hyosung Heavy Industries (HICO) officials announced today that the company will locate its first U.S. production operations in Memphis.

HICO will invest $86.9 million and create 410 jobs in Shelby County over the next seven years.

Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, HICO specializes in manufacturing electrical power equipment such as transformers, switchgear, flexible AC transmission systems and energy storage solutions. The company exports its products to customers around the globe and has established itself as one of the leading manufacturers in the power transformer business for the last 50 years.

Tennessee is home to more than 1,000 foreign-owned establishments that employ approximately 150,000 Tennesseans. Korea is among the top 10 countries for foreign investment in Tennessee, with Korean companies investing over $400 million in Tennessee since 2015.

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Gov. Lee to head trade mission to Japan, South Korea

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his first State of the State address in Nashville on March 4, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee is headed to Asia on a trade mission later this month, his office announced Thursday. Lee will be joined on the five-day trip by Bobby Rolfe, the commissioner of economic and community development. It’s the first-year governor’s first international trip and it will include stops in South Korea and Japan.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe will travel to Asia June 17 through June 21 for an economic development trip designed to strengthen ties with Asian businesses and increase foreign direct investment (FDI) in Tennessee. This will be Gov. Lee’s first international economic development trip.

During the five-day trip, Lee and Rolfe will discuss Tennessee’s business advantages with a number of Asian businesses interested in establishing operations in the Southeast U.S. The trip will include stops in South Korea and Japan.

“I look forward to traveling to Asia next week on my first international recruitment trip and having the opportunity to meet with business leaders as we showcase the many advantages of doing business in Tennessee,” Lee said. “We are proud to be home to more than 1,000 foreign-owned companies and will continue to demonstrate our commitment to fostering a business-friendly environment that will help companies from around the globe grow and succeed in the Volunteer State.”

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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.