Gov. Bill Haslam introduced his economic development strategy for the state today, a plan called Jobs4TN that focuses on existing Tennessee companies, reducing business regulation, research and development investment, recruitment of target industries, and a more regional approach to business development.
In devising the economic development plan, Haslam said he called on the Department of Economic and Community Development to restructure and review all of the department’s functions, then develop a jobs plan within 45 days. After meeting with ECD staff, outside advisers, community leaders and others, the Jobs4TN was created with the goal of Tennessee becoming the leading Southeast state for “high-quality” jobs.
As part of ECD’s redefined strategy, the department will be reorganized with the establishment of nine territories across the state called jobs base camps led by ECD staff. Haslam and ECD Commissioner William Hagerty said the ECD staff will be reduced by about 35 percent, with some 70 jobs being cut by Dec. 31.
“My top priority is for Tennessee to be the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs,” Haslam said. “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.”
A major thrust of the plan is to target its recruitment efforts on six clusters in which the state believes it has a competitive advantage:
Automotive: Involving companies like Nissan, Volkswagen, Bridgestone, AutoZone.
Chemicals and plastics: Involving companies like Eastman, DuPont, Olin, Mueller Industries.
Transportation, logistics and distribution services: Involving companies like FedEx and Averitt.
Business services: Involving companies like International Paper, Sitel, Dollar General, Asurion.
Health care: Involving companies like Hospital Corporation of America, St. Jude Medical, Community Health Systems, BioMimetic Therapeutics.
Advanced manufacturing and energy technologies: Involving companies like Wacker Chemical, Electrolux, HSC and Alstom.
According to ECD statistics, expansion of existing businesses accounted for nearly 86 percent of new jobs created in the state.
ECD will restructure its field staff to establish the jobs base camps in nine state regions, with each base camp working with local economic development officials to revise regional plans and coordinate federal and state resources within those plans. Regional ECD directors will be named to run the base camps.