ECD expanding TN international operations

Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development will soon contract for a representative to promote the state in South Korea and ECD Commissioner has plans for new offices in China, Germany and Italy as well, according to WPLN.

Pending final contracts, the state Department of Economic and Community Development is planning to open a new office in Seoul early next year. The goal is to recruit more Asian companies to do business in Tennessee.

And it’s not the only part of the world the state is eyeing: Commissioner Randy Boyd also wants an office in southern Germany, to access its automotive industry, and in northern Italy, for its ceramic tile business.

“We’ve got a couple of companies already from northern Italy” in Tennessee, Boyd says. “It turns out, because of our clay and other natural resources, this is a great place for ceramics.”

Boyd — essentially the state’s chief salesman — also plans to open an office in China and possibly add a second one there to tap into more of the market.

“Businesses in Italy or in China don’t know that much about Tennessee. They may not even be able to find us on a map, so just hoping that they might show up at our door one day and decide to locate here is pretty unrealistic,” he says.

…Tennessee has had a similar office in Japan for the last decade and a half. Boyd credits the abundance of Japanese companies in Tennessee — 182 establishments employing more than 48,500 people — to the office’s success.

“We could have one person knocking on doors every day, 10 times a day for the next 20 years, in each of the markets that we’re looking at,” he says.