Category Archives: economic development

Hankook gets another $2.7M to move HQ to Nashville

Hankook Tire America Corp. is set to receive $2.72 million in incentives for moving its North American headquarters from New Jersey to Nashville, reports the Nashville Business Journal.

Hankook, whose parent company is based in South Korea, plans to employ about 200 people at the Nashville headquarters within two or three years.

…Details of the state grant became public in advance of Tuesday’s meeting of Metro’s Industrial Development Board, which also has to sign off on the grant. It’s little surprise the state is devoting taxpayer aid to help entice Hankook, given the state’s desire to continue to foster its reputation and profile within the automotive industry.

According to board documents, the grant is to reimburse Hankook for expenses tied to renovating and setting up its new headquarters. Hankook is leasing the entire fifth and sixth floors of the (Nashville’s AT&T Tower, also known as the) “Batman Building,” about 40,000 square feet. When Hankook announced its move in the spring, the company said it would invest $5 million in the move itself.

Hankook will be eligible to claim the grant money between now and April 2021. To receive the reimbursements, Hankook commits to hire and retain 150 full-time employees through the end of that grant period.

…By the end of this year, Hankook expects to start making tires at its $800 million factory in Clarksville, an hour northwest of downtown — a precursor economic development deal that gave state officials an opening to recruit Hankook’s North American headquarters as well. In that separate deal, Hankook received local and state incentives and benefits worth more than $120 million.

Randy Boyd buys Knoxville land for development

State Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd, who owns the Tennessee Smokies baseball team, has purchased about seven near Knoxville Old City for $6 million, reports The News Sentinel. He won’t say whether the property will be used for a future ballpark.

The Smokies team left Knoxville more than a decade ago in search of a new stadium and is now based in Sevier County.

“Jenny and I have a passion for the Old City and its development,” Boyd said in a statement Wednesday morning. “We have been and continue to be very opportunistic buying property there for redevelopment.”

Boyd, whose wife owns and operates the Jig & Reel restaurant and who owns the Lonesome Dove building in the Old City, has now acquired the entire city block between Jackson and Willow avenues and Florida and Patton streets and two adjacent properties. Tim Love operates the Lonesome Dove restaurant.

Mike Frazier, owner of Knox Rail Salvage, which sells discounted construction material, said he had been negotiating with Boyd for 18 months over the property at 400 E. Jackson Ave. before deciding “with a great deal of trepidation” to sell the property. The land is in the industrial area known as the Magnolia Warehouse District.

Joel Piper, Frazier’s son-in-law and a principal at Knox Rail Salvage, said he exchanged emails with Boyd on Tuesday about the deal.

“He asked us to be discreet, but it’s an investment property (for Boyd),” Piper said.

Piper said Boyd did not discuss with the family his plans for the property.

Megasite wastewater going to Mississippi River

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee on Monday gave the green light to economic development officials to start buying up property rights to build a 35-mile wastewater line to the Mississippi River from the Memphis Regional Megasite, an industrial park still in search of major tenants.

The move follows an earlier decision amid a public outcry to abandon plans to dump treated wastewater form the site into the nearby Hatchie River, which runs 23 miles through the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge in Haywood County.

“At one time we were thinking of putting it in the Hatchie River, but we determined it was far better to take it to the Mississippi,” Randy Boyd, the commissioner of economic and community development, said after the meeting.

The executive subcommittee of the State Building Commission voted 3-0 to approve the plans for buying the easements for the $41 million wastewater main project. The Department of Economic and Community Development said it would begin negotiating with about 210 property owners between the site and the Mississippi River. Continue reading

ECD’s Clint Brewer moves to consulting business

News release from Stones River Group
NASHVILLE, TN – Stones River Group president Mark Cate today announced the addition of veteran communications executive and former journalist Clint Brewer as the company’s newest principal. Clint will join Washington, D.C. transplant and former Podesta Group VP Alexandra Sollberger in helming the firm’s public relations shop.

“Stones River Group has experienced consistent growth over the last year and we’re bringing on new talent to offer enhanced services for our clients,” Cate said. “Clint is a terrific addition to our company, offering clients a deep understanding of media and business. His leadership skills and relationships are a tremendous asset.”

Brewer was the Assistant Commissioner for Communications and Marketing at the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD), where he helped lead Governor Bill Haslam’s economic development program. Prior to joining TNECD, Brewer was a journalist and media executive for 16 years, serving as editor of the Nashville City Paper and the Lebanon Democrat as well as government and politics editor of the Tennessean.

“I am incredibly excited to join Stones River Group,” Brewer said. “This company is made up of exceptionally talented people. I’m looking forward to putting my experience and skills to work for our clients.”

Stones River Group has expanded its communications offerings in recent months to meet growing client demand. In March, the firm brought Sollberger on board from the Podesta Group, one of the nation’s top government relations and PR firms, where she provided strategic counsel to a diverse array of clients, including education nonprofits and postsecondary institutions, Fortune500 companies, trade associations and coalitions, and financial services institutions.

Previously, Sollberger worked for several years as a communications director and senior advisor in the U.S. House of Representatives, serving on the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the Committee on Small Business and in the office of former Congressman Geoff Davis (R-KY).

“Both Alex and Clint are smart, well-respected communicators with impressive backgrounds and considerable reach into the media,” Cate said. “We’re excited to add their strategic expertise to the team and look forward to ushering in the next chapter of success at our firm.”

ECD report: 13% of Tennesseans lack broadband

News release from Department of Economic and Community Development
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development released today a study it commissioned to assess the current state of broadband access in Tennessee and options for increasing access and utilization.

Strategic Networks Group and NEO Connect, global leaders in broadband consulting, conducted the study on behalf of the department.

According to the study, 13 percent of Tennesseans, or 834,545 people, do not have access to broadband at the federal standard of 25 megabytes per second of download speed and 3 megabytes per second of upload speed.

More than 23,000 Tennessee residents and businesses responded to the survey portion of the study, which took place between January and March of this year. Continue reading

ECD comish plans Japanese journey

News release from Department of Economic and Community Development
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd will lead Tennessee’s delegation at the 39th Annual Joint Meeting of the Southeast U.S./Japan and Japan-U.S. Southeast Associations (SEUS-Japan) in Tokyo from September 20-22.

The joint conference of the two associations celebrates longstanding economic and cultural ties between Japan and the Southeast U.S. The prestigious gathering brings together Japan’s top CEOs, corporate executives and government officials alongside governors and economic development leaders from southeastern states. Continue reading

Haslam see negative economic impact from Brexit

Fresh from an economic development trip to Ireland that coincided with Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday the decision could have a negative impact on Tennessee.

Further from The Tennessean:

“I’m concerned — I think we have a fairly tenuous international economy, and I think this is one of those things that will be a negative,” Haslam told reporters Monday after making an appearance at the National Charter Schools Conference in Nashville. “Ultimately in Tennessee we’re connected to that same economy, and we hope there’s no eventual repercussions here.”

The United Kingdom is Tennessee’s fourth-largest foreign investor, with 96 companies doing business in the state and nearly 11,000 jobs tied to those investments, according to the Tennessee Department of Economic Development.

The governor pointed out that there were already negative repercussions to the vote last week, highlighting the declining stock market prices. The British pound fell to its lowest value since the 1970s.

“As trade agreements become more tenuous, obviously that puts some of that at risk,” he said.

Haslam said that while traveling in Ireland, along with state Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd, he discovered that “a lot of members of their parliament” thought the vote would actually go the other way.

Since returning home, Haslam noted there has been “quite a bit of buyer’s remorse.” …”It feels like there are a lot of folks who voted for that who said maybe we were too hasty there,” Haslam said.

Note: The governor’s comments are perhaps something of a contrast with those of U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, who has been backing Donald Trump’s view that the Brexit vote was a good thing. Previous post HERE.

Nashville, Chattanooga companies lead in TN corporate welfare

Companies bases in Nashville and Chattanooga are leading beneficiaries of “taxpayer handouts to big businesses in Tennessee,” according to Beacon Center of Tennessee statewide listing of incentives and tax breaks.

The new Beacon website,, “is the start of a large public awareness effort on corporate favoritism the Beacon Center will run over the next couple of years,” says a news release.

Further: “The website features an interactive map that tracks which businesses received handouts from the state and local governments. Nashville, Chattanooga, Clarksville, Memphis, and Charleston round out the top five areas for private businesses receiving taxpayer money. The site also features a brand new video on corporate favoritism and a ticker with the Tennessee businesses that have received the most taxpayer money over the past decade.

“…”This is a really exciting start in our effort to educate the public on the unfair and unethical practice of giving the tax dollars of hard-working Tennesseans to multi-million dollar corporations. Ending corporate handouts is an issue that those on both sides of the aisle can come together to support. This isn’t an issue of right and left, it’s an issue of right and wrong.”

The site says $3 billion in “corporate welfare” has been provided to 470 companies since 2005, about 3 percent of the state’s 170,000 companies.

The Commercial Appeal has story on the report. An excerpt: Continue reading

Haslam makes quick trip to Ireland

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and state Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd have been on a trip to Ireland for economic recruitment.

Haslam spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals said in an email that Haslam and Boyd were in Dublin on Monday meeting with Irish government officials and business leaders. She was not more specific about what kind of economic recruitment they were doing.

They ended the evening by seeing the cast of the show “Nashville” in concert in Dublin and were brought up on stage by the performers. Donnals said it was a coincidence that the show was being held the same day the governor decided to visit Ireland. Haslam used the opportunity to promote tourism to Nashville and Tennessee.

State paying $5.5M to help Memphis company move

State taxpayers are anteing up $5.5 million toward the $27 million renovation of Memphis’s vacant Peabody Place mall into the new corporate headquarters for ServiceMaster, which is moving Downtown from its current East Memphis offices, reports the Commercial Appeal.

The State Funding Board on Thursday approved a $5.5 million grant for the project. The money is coming through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s FastTrack economic development program that provides incentives for businesses to relocate to the state and, increasingly, to keep existing businesses here.

ECD spokesman Clint Brewer said the grant is the total state incentive for the project and will help pay for construction and renovation of the 15-year-old, 328,000-square-foot Peabody Place for use by ServiceMaster.

The state money was the first public incentive to be disclosed for the ServiceMaster relocation announced last Friday by the home and commercial services provider’s chief executive, Gov. Bill Haslam and Mayor Jim Strickland, who declared it “the most significant corporate headquarters announcement in Downtown Memphis in a generation.”

Downtown officials are proposing a $1 million grant to help ServiceMaster with an estimated $14,795,000 in tenant improvements.

…Landlord Belz Enterprises expects to spend about $12 million to retrofit the building.

On Tuesday, Belz is scheduled to ask another commission board, the Center City Revenue Finance Corp., to approve an amendment to Peabody Place’s existing tax abatement.