Magazine gives Tennessee, Innovation Valley high marks

Tennessee is among the national leaders in automotive manufacturing and alternative energy investments, according to a national economic development magazine.

And the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley is among the leaders in the magazine’s metro rankings.

In the latest issue of Business Facilities magazine, Tennessee is ranked No.1 in the magazine’s 2010 state rankings for Automotive Manufacturing Strength and No. 6 in Alternative Energy Industry Leaders.

Knoxville ranks high in economic potential, cost of living and alternative energy.

“Tennessee, our State of the Year winner, has laid the foundation for robust growth in automotive manufacturing and clearly established itself as one of the players to watch in the alternative energy sector,” Business Faciltiies reports.

The magazine cites the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga that will soon begin producing new cars and back-to-back announcements that two of the world’s largest polycrystalline silicon producers (Hemlock Semiconductor and Wacker Chemie AG) are locating major facilities worth a combined $3 billion in Tennessee.

Tennessee also ranked second in Economic Growth Potential and fifth in Best Business Climate.

In the Metro Rankings, Knoxville is No. 5 in Metro Economic Growth Potential, No. 7 in Alternative Energy Industry Leaders and No. 10 for Best Cost of Living.

“Improved LED lights, high tech air filtration systems and lighter, stronger and easier-to-ship materials — all developed locally — are fueling a promising, and increasingly green, future for the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley,” the magazine reports.

Among the local companies cited by Business Facilities are LED North America, Bandit Lites and Industrial Ceramic Solutions.

“Tennessee has certainly been very successful recruiting high profile companies to the state,” Rhonda Rice, executive vice president at the Knoxville Chamber. said in a press release. “Three $1 billion projects – VW, Hemlock Semiconductor, and Wacker Chemie AG – and many supporting businesses have located in the state in recent years. While those projects have gained attention, there’s been a tremendous amount of economic development work being done in the Innovation Valley. It’s great that Business Facilities has recognized the region for the partnerships that have been formed between business and Department of Energy facilities in the region.”