Tenn. 15th in private equity investment

Private equity investors are finding fertile opportunities in Tennessee. In 2011, 42 Tennessee-based companies received more than $3.2 billion in private equity investment , according to a report released today by the Private Equity Growth Capital Council, an industry lobbying group.

Compared to other states, Tennessee ranks 15th in total investment value. The top five states are Texas, $20.5 billion; New York, $18.6 billion; California, $15.7 billion; North Carolina, $10.4 billion; and Oklahoma, $8.7 billion.

The U.S. economy as a whole attracted $144 billion in private equity investment last year.

Broken down by Congressional district, Tennessee Democrat Jim Cooper’s 5th district ranks 14th in the country in total private equity investment – $2.4 billion, according to the PEGCC report.

The presidential campaign has focused considerable attention – both good and bad – on private equity firms. The PEGCC, an advocacy organization established to promote the private equity industry, expects the focus on private equity firms to intensify as election fever builds.

“Over the next several months, we expect the general election to amplify the conversation about private equity, but one thing is clear, private equity drives economic activity and growth across Tennessee. These numbers are an unambiguous reminder that, at its core, private equity is about investing in and strengthening American companies in our local communities,” Steve Judge, president of the PEGCC, said in a statement.

True enough – private equity investment can be a powerful tool for growth — but when investors get greedy companies can go bankrupt and jobs are lost.

Here’s an interesting report from PBS Newshour that looks at both sides of the issue:

How Big a Role Do Private Equity Firms Play In U.S. Economy?