Tag Archives: ECD

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 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.

ECD promoting GOP on Facebook?

More than half of the money a state agency has spent on Facebook ads targets supporters of Tennessee’s top Republican politicians, with none spent on Democrats, according to WSMV-TV. The report prompted a press release protests from state Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis, and TNDP Chair Mary Mancini.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development is to attract businesses to the Volunteer State, as well as to let the community know what’s going on. One of several marketing strategies involves paying for ads on Facebook.

What pops up in a user’s newsfeed may seem random, but Facebook can target users based on interests. And if you “like” certain officeholders, there’s a good chance you’ll see updates from the TDECD Facebook page.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development is a nonpartisan state agency, except they’ve paid more than $18,000 to target people who “like” Gov. Bill Haslam, Sen. Bob Corker or Sen. Lamar Alexander. Not a dime was spent on targeting fans of Democrats.

That fact troubles Bruce Oppenheimer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University.

“I think the real question is more so, who’s not getting the information who deserves to get the information?” Oppenheimer said.
… So why would an agency that’s interested in developing businesses and creating jobs not cast a wide net to garner fans of all political parties? The I-Team sat down with TDECD Commissioner Randy Boyd.

“Should politics be involved in a department that’s supposed to be apolitical?” asked reporter Alanna Autler.

“Politics is a pretty broad word,” Boyd said. “We have to work with the legislature and the legislature is always creating new legislation affecting things we do, and they are political. So in that sense, the politics of new laws and legislation do affect what our development and any department does.”
… Many of the ads pushed for more Facebook likes. Others were more specific, such as a post around Valentine’s Day 2014 that targeted users who like “Bill Haslam or chocolate.” But of all the metrics the department used, none mentioned Democrats.

“I think the blatancy of this may be a little different. Probably the thought is, no one is really going to find out about this sort of targeting,” Oppenheimer said. The professor said the strategy also resembles microtargeting, a tactic used during political campaigns to reach voters.

“It looks like something a campaign or somebody who’s thinking of running for office [would do],” Oppenheimer said. “It’s an attempt to get your message out and manage what you’re doing and who you are.”

Political watchers say there’s talk in Republican spheres about Commissioner Boyd running for governor.

Note: The Harris commentary is below. Continue reading

Haslam, Boyd headed for China, Korea and Japan

News release from Department of Economic and Community Development
NASHVILLE — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd will travel to Asia on an economic development trip focused on increasing foreign direct investment opportunities specifically related to the automotive, high tech and advanced manufacturing sectors.

The 10-day business trip is scheduled from Monday, May 2 to Wednesday, May 11 and will include stops in Korea, China and Japan. Haslam and Boyd will meet with executives of existing Tennessee businesses as well as work to expand relationships between Tennessee and Asian business communities.
Continue reading

UT names business center for ECD commissioner

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The University of Tennessee is naming its Center for Business and Economic Research after businessman and state Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Randy Boyd and his wife, Jenny.

The center is housed at the school’s College of Business, which is named after Pilot Flying J founder Jim Haslam, the father of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

The newly-named Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research provides studies and projections for governments and private companies.

Boyd is the founder of Knoxville-based Radio Systems Corp., a privately owned maker of technology-based pet products like PetSafe and Invisible Fence. He became an unpaid adviser to Gov. Haslam on higher education initiatives in 2013 before being named head of the development department in 2014.

Boyd is among the potential candidates for governor in 2018.

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.

Eastman reducing workforce without losing $30M in job-creation incentives

Kingsport-based Eastman Chemical Co. may be trying to reduce its workforce, but that doesn’t jeopardize a $30 million incentives package provided to the company two years ago for building an new and almost complete “global corporate business center,” reports the Kingsport Times-News.

Eastman told the Times-News last Wednesday the company would offer voluntary separation to employees amid short-term challenges the company was facing due to slow global economic growth.

…As part of the project (announced two years ago), Eastman pledged to invest $1.6 billion in its Kingsport site and add 300 new jobs to its 6,000-plus workforce in Northeast Tennessee… In total, the state signed off on $30 million in economic incentives toward the project.

…“Eastman is fully in compliance with their grant (contract),” said Clint Brewer, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. “They have a number of years to complete the job creation, and they are well within the grant period to make up the jobs.”

Eastman Chairman and CEO Mark Costa told employees during a global town hall-style meeting last Tuesday that the company expects to reduce non-operations labor by up to 5 percent worldwide — which is about 300-350 employees. The company’s worldwide workforce is about 15,000.

“We expect to manage this primarily with a targeted voluntary separation program, not filling some open positions, and by leveraging normal attrition and performance management,” Eastman spokeswoman Tracy Kilgore said in an email the following day.

Kilgore, in a follow-up email, said the near-term challenges faced by Eastman are not a reflection of the strength of its growth strategy.

“We will continue to invest in growth even as we navigate through these challenges,” she promised. “This means that we will continue hiring, driving innovation, investing in our sites and supporting our communities. We will continue to meet the multi-year commitments we made through Project Inspire, including new job creation. The actions that we are taking do not impact this.”