Tag Archives: ECD

Legislators to talk clawbacks at Volkswagen hearing

State lawmakers plan to discuss the idea of clawbacks From Volkswagen at a special Senate committee hearing Oct. 29 in Chattanooga, reports The Tennessean.

“Metrics and ‘clawback’ provisions will be a part of the discussion, and it is too early to determine what, if any, metrics VW may have attained,” (Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo) Watson said in a prepared statement to The Tennessean.

“The purpose of the hearing is to allow for a transparent conversation between the Senate, ECD, and VW about how VW moves forward in Tennessee and insure the public that the Senate takes its fiduciary responsibility seriously, which means we will review the components of our most recent incentives and VW’s performance relative to the incentives.”

The German automaker faces billions of dollars in fines after a U.S. investigation revealed at least 11 million cars were installed with software that allowed them to cheat on emissions testing. The incoming chairman for VW recently said the scandal is “an existence-threatening crisis for the company,” according to USA TODAY and other reports..

…Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd (mentioned) the idea of clawbacks — requiring a company to return state money if the company doesn’t meet previously agreed upon benchmarks — in a letter he sent in late September to the General Assembly. But that letter merely outlines the clawback provision in the latest $165 million capital grant provided to VW.

“Any discussion of clawbacks is hypothetical. We have assurances directly from company executives that Volkswagen’s expansion remains on track,” said Clint Brewer, a spokesman for the department.

News release below
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ECD revises effort to market West TN megasite

Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd got favorable reviews Tuesday from a group assembled to watch videos of ECD’s latest efforts to find businesses that will locate in the West Tennessee megasite, reports the Jackson Sun.

“We know we’ve got no excuses,” Boyd, the state’s ECD commissioner said about bringing a major company to the site. “We’ve got the great site, the great collaborative material, a great state of support — and so we’re excited about hitting the road.”

Boyd and Clint Brewer, assistant ECD commissioner for communications and marketing, showed a room full of chamber leaders and city and county mayors the two marketing videos that highlight the property and the plusses of building in West Tennessee, a pamphlet book and a new website to attract businesses worldwide that might move to the Megasite.

Boyd said the state has a list of 34 companies to pitch the Megasite to, 35 if you count Apple, which announced Monday it would be building an electric car by 2019.

“There’s no guarantee of success, but like at the start of every football season everybody says they’re going to win the Super Bowl, we believe we can win the Super Bowl,” Boyd said. “We’re determined to try and get it done — and now we’re going to go get it done.”

…Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith, the county where the site is located, has been an outspoken critic of the state’s urgency with the site, but Tuesday applauded ECD’s showing.

“I think the state did an excellent job putting this together,” Smith said.

Smith also said he agrees with Boyd in that the state has no excuses for not being able to bring a major company to the site.

State spending $493K to renovate ECD offices

While Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration moves toward outsourcing management and operations of all state-owned buildings, parks, prisons and college campuses with a goal of saving taxpayers money, it’s also spending $493,000 to renovate a single floor in a state office tower.

Further from Richard Locker:

That project will knock down walls, install a more open office layout and upgrade restrooms on the 27th floor of the Tennessee Tower state office building across the street from the State Capitol. The floor houses the headquarters of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, and was where the governor himself worked for eight months in 2012 during a major renovation of the Capitol.

The project is the first of several similar “alternative workplace solutions” renovations planned by the same small cadre of contracted consultants and top-level state employees also running the governor’s controversial real-estate outsourcing initiative, which would turn over the management and operations of all state-owned property — including college campuses — to a private-sector contractor.

Operating under the direction of Haslam’s appointed chief operating officer, Greg Adams, the “Office of Customer Focused Government” has four projects underway: the overall facilities management outsourcing initiative; the “alternative workplace solutions” effort focused on consolidating office space; an energy efficiency project; and a separate effort on “real estate process improvements.”

The Building Commission, which is controlled by legislative rather than executive branch appointees, delayed action earlier this month on the request to approve and expedite the project — but then approved it without discussion on Monday.

…(General Services Commissioner Bob) Oglesby told the commission (earlier) the project was “specifically requested” by ECD Commissioner Randy Boyd to increase productivity of his agency. Boyd, a Knoxville businessman, headed Haslam’s efforts to increase the number of Tennesseans with college degrees and post-high-school certificates until the governor appointed him ECD commissioner in January.

ECD says ‘low-cost labor’ in tune with ‘high quality jobs’

State economic development officials said Thursday there’s no conflict in their agency’s goal of recruiting “high quality jobs” to the state and its marketing of Tennessee as “low-cost labor force,” reports Richard Locker.

The agency’s assistant commissioner for communications and marketing, Clint Brewer, said Thursday that “selling the state’s low-cost labor force and recruiting high-quality jobs do not conflict. Tennessee enjoys the strategic advantage of having low-cost labor because it costs less to live here than it does in most states, (and) our debt per capita is low as are our taxes.

“The cost of labor is measured nationally by comparing labor costs between states. The quality of a job is measured at the local level in the context of a state’s cost of living and the average wage within a county. A high-quality job in New York or California will pay more than that same high quality job in Tennessee. Within the context of Tennessee’s costs of living, it is still a high-quality job,” he said.

The state is evaluating its placement of foreign representatives as contracts for existing offices either have just expired or will soon in Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada and China. The RFI seeks responses, by Sept. 21, for representatives in the U.K. and Western Europe, Korea, Italy, Germany, Eastern Europe, China and Brazil.

A change of plans for West TN Megasite: No wastewater dumping

The state has changed its approach to marketing the sprawling Memphis Regional Megasite in Haywood County away from a single mammoth manufacturer toward several smaller major industries, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Randy Boyd, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, said Thursday’s news that his agency is withdrawing a request for a state permit to discharge treated wastewater into the Hatchie River from industries in the megasite is part a larger realization that it should alter its overall view of developing one of the largest industrial sites in the Southeast.

Since the megasite’s inception nearly a decade ago, state and Haywood County officials have looked on the 4,100-acre site bordering Interstate 40 about 20 miles east of Arlington as a potential location for another giant auto plant like Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Nissan in Smyrna and General Motors in Spring Hill.

But such economic bonanzas for states and communities are few and far between.

“It is good news for those concerned about the Hatchie River that there is not going to be water going into the Hatchie. But from an economic development point of view, I think the equally big news is that we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s rare if not impossible in today’s economic environment to find any company that actually needs 4,100 acres of land,” Boyd told The Commercial Appeal Friday.

He was in Brownsville Friday afternoon delivering a similar message to local leaders.

Note: See also the Jackson Sun, which reports on the Brownsville meeting. Excerpt:

Boyd… couldn’t give specifics, but said all the water handled for businesses would be self-contained in stackable tanks that could be added onto as more companies move into the area.

For months, residents fought against the state to ensure the industry that eventually locates at the Megasite does not dump its wastewater into the state-certified scenic river.

…Boyd said the reversal was partly due to the protests, but was also because the state was planning a 4 million-gallon water treatment plant, which would be far too large, he said.

“So the good news is, we solved two things at once,” Boyd said.

…Michael Philpot, executive director of West Tennessee Industrial Association, attended Friday’s meeting. He said the “do no harm” strategy in dealing with the Hatchie could help the state as they look for a company to locate at the Megasite.

“There’s corporate executives, companies we’ve worked with in the past, that are more environmentally sensitive than others,” Philpot said. “Being green is part of their (business). Some of them wouldn’t take to dumping either or would have a discomfort with it.”

Theft of $142K in ECD funds brings 10-year sentence

A Knoxville man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing more than $142,000 intended for industrial development in Morgan County, reports the News Sentinel.

John H. Brichetto Jr., 61, had his bond revoked and was immediately handcuffed and taken to the Morgan County jail after kissing his wife, Lisa Horn Brichetto, who is a co-defendant.

Under sentencing guidelines, Brichetto faced between eight and 12 years, either in prison or on probation. Senior Judge Paul Summers imposed what the state requested in a 27-page sentencing memorandum.

By law, Brichetto will have to serve 30 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

But the judge added another layer to the sentence: Brichetto will either have to repay all the money he stole or have a court-approved arrangement for that payback in place before he can be paroled.

Summers’ role in the long-running case isn’t over. Wednesday’s hearing was for Brichetto and his wife, but her day in court was delayed because her court-appointed attorney became ill.

The Brichettos were principals in Northington Energy LLC, and each was indicted for theft of more than $60,000 for stealing part of a $250,000 state Feedstock Loan Program loan for biodiesel plant equipment to convert soybeans into fuel.

Only $4,908 was used to buy equipment, according to a state Department of Economic and Community Development official’s memo.
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ECD comish pitches West TN Megasite

Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd tells the Jackson Sun that the West Tennessee Regional Megasite is top priority for his department in the next four years and things look good… except maybe that the only hospital nearby closed last year.

The commissioner and his assistants visited with The Jackson Sun editorial board Tuesday and said the project, which has the potential to transform West Tennessee economically, is his number one focus.

“If we don’t do anything else, that’s what we want to get done these next four years, is get somebody in that site,” Boyd said.

“It’ll be hard to claim victory if we don’t,” he said. “If we do, we could probably be forgiven for a lot of other things. That’s number one.”

Boyd said the state has invested $108 million in the 4,100-acre Megasite and it is approximately 18 months from being finished, or roughly the same amount of time it would take before a major company could be ready to build.

The challenge now will be to bring companies in and to sell them the site, he said.

“I can say in my novice opinion … this is absolutely without question the best asset for industrial development in the state of Tennessee and maybe one of the best assets for industrial developments in the country,” Boyd said.

…Boyd was not as confident when asked about the lack of a medical center near the megasite. Haywood Park Community Hospital in Brownsville closed last year.

He said Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan, which was rejected by the legislature, was critical for rural development.

“If you’re going to locate [here] you have to have a talented workforce, but then they’ve got to have health care, and if there’s not a hospital or any place to get medical care within 50 miles, it’s going to make it a hard, if not impossible, sale,” Boyd said.

State gives $8M to ‘Nashville’ TV show

The ABC drama “Nashville” quietly secured economic incentives from the state last week as part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s amended budget, according to The Tennessean.

The Haslam administration allocated a combined $16 million to the Department of Economic and Community Development’s film and television incentive fund, and $8 million of that has been earmarked for “Nashville” to continuing filming in Music City. Lobbyists for the show’s production team have also been in talks with Mayor Karl Dean’s administration about additional incentives from Metro.

Unlike last year when representatives from “Nashville” kicked the tires on filming the show elsewhere amid down-to-the-wire negotiations with the state and Metro, discussions have gone smoothly this time. There’s still the question of whether ABC will pick up the music-focused series for a fourth season, and the production team feels the incentives are necessary to justify the costs of filming remotely.

“They’ve done a great job proving their economic value so we wanted to be supportive,” said Randy Boyd, ECD commissioner.

In addition to the $8 million for “Nashville,” $4 million will go to productions based in Memphis, $2 million to Knoxville productions, and $2 million will go to the recurring incentive fund for various productions across the state. Even with extra funding in Haslam’s budget, Tennessee’s film and television incentives pale in comparison to other states. Boyd pointed out that Louisiana gives approximately $270 million to lure productions there.

Randy Boyd named new ECD commissioner

News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Randy Boyd as the new commissioner of Economic and Community Development.

A successful entrepreneur, Boyd, 55, served as a full-time, unpaid special advisor to the governor for higher education in 2013, focusing on the “Drive to 55” initiative to bring the percentage of Tennesseans with college degrees or certificates from 32 percent up to 55 percent by the year 2025. Boyd’s work resulted in the Tennessee Promise, the program to provide two years of community college or a college of applied technology (TCAT) absolutely free of tuition and fees to graduating Tennessee high school seniors.

“Randy understands the importance of making sure that the business community and educators are working hand in hand to meet our workforce needs,” Haslam said. “More than ever, offering an educated and highly trained workforce is part of attracting new business to our state and encouraging existing businesses to expand here. Randy’s experience and success in the private sector as well as his engagement in the education community make him a perfect fit to continue our focus on being the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

Boyd is chairman of Radio Systems Corporation, which he started in 1991. Radio Systems is headquartered in Knoxville and has more than 650 associates worldwide with offices in seven countries.

“I am very excited about this opportunity to serve our state. While working with the Governor last year, we often talked about education being not K to 12 but K to J, with the ‘J’ being jobs. Now, I can work to ensure that those high quality jobs we are educating people for are there for them,” Boyd said. “I’m first and foremost a salesman, and every salesman likes to have a great product to promote. I cannot imagine a better one than the state of Tennessee and can’t wait to promote it to other businesses around the world.”
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Hagerty steps down as ECD commissioner

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty is leaving the administration to return to the private sector, Gov. Bill Haslam announced Wednesday.

The Republican governor didn’t say exactly what Hagerty will be doing, even though the commissioner’s name has surfaced as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2018.

Haslam lauded Hagerty’s recruitment efforts in helping Tennessee be recognized as the State of the Year in economic development. Just last month, it was recognized as the nation’s No. 1 state for job commitments through foreign direct investment.

“Our goal has been to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the southeast for high quality jobs, and Bill has been key to the successes we’ve had in attracting new investment into the state, as well as continued growth of our existing businesses,” the governor said.

Haslam said that under Hagerty’s leadership, the Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission worked closely with the entertainment industry and Legislature to retool the state’s film industry incentives to simplify and broaden access.

The repositioning resulted in the recruitment of the ABC hit television series “Nashville,” which airs in more than 50 countries.

Hagerty has served in a number of executive positions ranging from chief financial officer, to chairman and chief executive officer.

A longtime friend and adviser to former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Hagerty also worked on the White House domestic policy staff during the George H.W. Bush administration as a member of the President’s Council on Competitiveness.