This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Auto components manufacturer coming to Spring Hill (Associated Press)
State officials say Comprehensive Logistics Co. Inc. plans to build a facility that will house the manufacturing and light assembly of automotive components for the General Motors plant in Spring Hill, about 30 miles south of Nashville. Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty said Wednesday that Youngstown, Ohio-based Comprehensive Logistics plans to invest $30 million in the new facility, creating more than 200 new jobs in the process. In addition to providing logistics support, the facility will assemble headliners, tires, wheels and rear suspensions. The facility is slated to be complete in 2015.
‘Project Buckeye’ company identity released (Columbia Daily Herald)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with Comprehensive Logistics Co., Inc. officials announced today the company will locate a new automotive manufacturing support facility in Spring Hill that will house the manufacturing and light assembly of automotive components for the General Motors plant in Spring Hill. The Ohio-based third-party logistics provider will invest $30 million and plans to create more than 200 new jobs, according to a press release. “We want to welcome Comprehensive Logistics to Tennessee and congratulate the company on its latest expansion,” Haslam said in the release.
Ohio company to invest $30M, create 200 jobs in Spring Hill (Nashville Post)
Officials with Youngstown, Ohio-based Comprehensive Logistics Co., Inc., announced today the company will invest about $30 million in a new automotive manufacturing support facility in Spring Hill in a move that will yield about 200 jobs. The facility, for which a mid-2015 completion date is targeted, will house the manufacturing and light assembly of automotive components for the General Motors plant in Spring Hill. Riverside, Missouri-based NorthPoint Development will oversee the development, for which the Industrial Board of Maury County is providing some tax break incentives.
$30M investment to create 200 automotive jobs in Spring Hill (N. Biz Journal)
Comprehensive Logistics Co. will open a new facility in Spring Hill to house manufacturing and automotive components for General Motors, company and state officials said Wednesday. Comprehensive Logistics, an Ohio-based logistics firm, is investing $30 million to build the automotive support facility and plans to create 200 jobs. The new facility will support General Motors’ manufacturing operations in Spring Hill. GM announced in August production of a new SUV at the Spring Hill plant, which currently makes the Chevrolet Equinox.
Warby Parker’s Nashville home rapidly coming together (Nashville Biz Journal)
Work crews are springing into action to remodel the new Nashville home for the trendy eyewear company Warby Parker. Earlier this month, the New York-based company announced it chose Nashville for its first expansion. Warby Parker officials said they plan to create at least 250 jobs in Music City over the next five years. For now, Warby Parker will set up shop on the 21st floor of downtown’s L&C Tower, according to a building permit that Metro government approved on Sept. 23. Those offices, totaling 5,838 square feet, are located two-thirds of the way up the 30-story tower. DWC Construction Co. Inc., of Nashville, is handling the renovations of the L&C Tower office space.
Higher Education Panel Discusses Work Readiness (Associated Press)
Tennessee higher education officials participating in a panel discussion on preparing students for the workforce say employers want college graduates that possess so-called soft skills like critical thinking and good communication. Panelists at the Wednesday event in Nashville talked about current trends in higher education to help students be competitive in the workforce. Just about all the panelists say they’ve heard from employers who say many college students need to hone those soft skills, and they’ve developed programs to help address that need to some degree. The event comes a week after Gov. Bill Haslam and the state’s legislative speakers convened a summit to discuss education changes in Tennessee, particularly the Common Core standards.
How Tennessee colleges are attempting to build a better workforce (N. Biz Journal)
Four Tennessee college leaders agree: businesses are looking for more soft skills in college graduates entering the workforce. The need for soft skills — showing up to work on time, communicating clearly, working as part of a team — was one of the early dominant themes at a panel Wednesday featuring leaders from the University of Tennessee WGU Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State University and Volunteer State Community College. The panelists were also financial sponsors of the panel, which was presented by the Nashville Business Journal. “Most of the laments [from businesses] are around what you would call soft skills,” said University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro.
Nashville leaders focus on postsecondary education (Tennessean/McGee)
Nashville-area employers are headed for a massive labor shortage in the next decade, and boosting postsecondary education enrollment is one way community leaders are trying to address the issue. Middle Tennessee education and economic development leaders met Wednesday as part of the Nashville Region’s Vital Signs initiative led by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Metropolitan Planning Organization. The focus on postsecondary education is meant to connect education programs with employers’ needs in the workforce and to help students build skills in high-demand sectors. By 2021, there will be a workforce deficit of 34,800 people, compared with a surplus of 23,900 in 2012, according to estimates provided by the Nashville chamber.
McPhee stresses progress, adaptability, funding at higher ed panel (DNJ)
From rising tuition to curriculum innovation to partnerships with business, Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee joined three other higher education leaders Wednesday in discussing these and other issues related to better preparing students for today’s workforce. McPhee shared some of the Murfreesboro university’s ongoing efforts and recently launched initiatives during the Nashville Business Journal’s panel entitled “Nashville Ahead: A discussion on higher education and workforce readiness.” Moderated by Nashville Business Journal Publisher Kate Herman, the luncheon panel at the Omni Nashville Hotel was attended by a variety of area business leaders.
Haslam, in tone change, seeks ‘full vetting’ of Common Core (Tennessean/Garrison)
He isn’t saying stay the course. No more talk about continuing the momentum, either. Ahead of what could be a raucous legislative debate over Common Core when the legislature convenes in January, Gov. Bill Haslam instead intends to have a “full vetting” of the academic standards, marking a shift in message from last year. “The consensus is higher standards matter,” Haslam said after an Education Summit last week that he organized. “What there’s some disagreement about is our current standards: Are they the right ones? We very much intend to have a full vetting of those standards — what they are and what they aren’t — and let people have a chance to talk very specifically about what they like and what they don’t like about those standards.”
Common Core losing support of Tennessee teachers, survey finds (Tenn/Garrison)
Support for Common Core among Tennessee teachers has waned so much since last year that a majority now opposes the academic standards, a new statewide survey shows. With the future of Common Core under fire in Tennessee, a new report from the Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation and Development could provide more ammunition to those who want to roll back the standards. The new 2014 survey, undertaken by a group led by Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development and released Wednesday, found that just 39 percent of respondents believe that teaching to the standards will improve student learning — compared with 60 percent who said the same last year. It also found 56 percent of the 27,000 Tennessee teachers who responded to the survey want to abandon the standards, while 13 percent would prefer to delay their implementation.
Survey Says Common Core Support Drops Drastically Among TN Teachers (WPLN)
Last year, 60 percent of Tennessee teachers thought Common Core standards would improve student learning. This year, that number has dropped to 39 percent. The First to the Top survey conducted by Vanderbilt found that almost 40 percent now oppose the standards. Thirteen percent want to see implementation delayed. The survey places teachers into three categories: those who are in favor; those who like the standards, but want them delayed; and those who want them gone completely. Lucianna Sanson is one of those teachers who wants to see Common Core out of her classroom. She’s used the standards in her honors and AP English classes at Franklin County High School for two years.
APSU promise to all state’s high-achieving college grads (Leaf Chronicle)
Beginning this fall, Austin Peay State University will guarantee scholarships to all Tennessee Board of Regents community college and Hopkinsville Community College graduates who have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. Titled the APSU Promise, the new scholarship program aims to bring more high-caliber students to campus in the coming years. “I’m a community college graduate, having earned my associate’s degree from Nashville State Community College, so I know these students have received a quality education,” Dr. Jaime Taylor, APSU interim provost and vice-president of Academic Affairs, said. “They’ve proven they can succeed in a college environment, and we want to provide them with this financial assistance so they can succeed in earning a bachelor’s degree at Austin Peay.”
Why Did MTSU Enrollment Drop Suddenly? Pres. Says Students Can’t Pay (WPLN)
Middle Tennessee State University is blaming a big enrollment decrease on students’ ability to pay. Admission figures have just been made final, though president Sidney McPhee says the nearly five percent drop occurred just before the start of the semester. “We purged, we dropped from our rolls the Friday before classes began that Monday over 1,200 students because they were unable to afford their tuition,” McPhee tells WPLN. “This has been a pattern over the last several years.” The university hiked tuition 4.4 percent this fall, topping $8,000 for the year. Admissions officers have been surveying students who left and McPhee says cost is the number one factor, adding that many plan to come back.
What is holding back Tennessee’s unemployment rate? (Memphis Biz Journal)
When the Tennessee Labor and Workforce Development released its monthly unemployment report for April, the unemployment rate had been decreasing for eight consecutive months. Since then, the state unemployment rate has steadily increased. What is holding the state back? Several sectors of employment have seen jobs ebb and flow this year. In July, the state’s leisure and hospitality jobs took a step back, shedding about 2,000 jobs, but it was only a blip. The leisure and hospitality job market has been very robust over the past 12 months, and the latest data states that the sector has added nearly 14,000 jobs since August 2013.
Office building evacuated after vibrations (Associated Press)
A state office building in downtown Nashville will reopen on Thursday after reported vibrations prompted its evacuation. About 500 people left the James K. Polk building on Wednesday. Tennessee Emergency Management spokesman Jeremy Heidt said the evacuation was a precautionary measure. Tennessee Department of General Services spokeswoman Kelly Smith told The Associated Press in an email that professional engineers were examining the area of concern. Heidt said Wednesday night that an inspector cleared the building to reopen on Thursday. The building houses the bulk of the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s headquarters, as well as other state institutions, such as the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and Tennessee State Museum.
Polk building deemed safe after vibrations reported (Tennessean/Wilson)
Engineers have deemed the James K. Polk Office Building structurally sound after vibrations were reported at the downtown Nashville building Wednesday afternoon. Employees will be able to return to work Thursday after engineers put monitoring devices in place at the building, said Kelly Smith, an assistant commissioner with the state Department of General Services. About 500 employees were evacuated from the building after the incident was reported around 2:30 p.m., said Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jeremy Heidt. Smith said that in buildings with a similar structural makeup as the Polk building, “movement and vibrations occasionally occur.”
Appeals court overturns one of Baumgartner’s federal convictions (NS/Satterfield)
With one appellate judge firmly in his corner, former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner’s federal case could prove a battleground over the reach of the federal government. The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Wednesday overturned one conviction against Baumgartner but upheld four others. However, the decision was not unanimous among the three-judge panel. Judge Eric L. Clay wrote in a dissent that he would have tossed out the case in its entirety, opining the government — and his two fellow appellate judges — stretched federal authority to a ridiculous level. “(The case) presents a dramatic extension of the statute (of which Baumgartner was convicted) to fit circumstances where the government cannot find another federal crime to charge,” Clay wrote.
Tennessee wins national award for innovative procurement practices (DNJ)
Tennessee was recently honored with an award for innovation in the way the state procures contracts for facilities management by the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO). The state received the George Cronin Bronze Award as a result of efforts to reduce operation costs by implementing “best of class” practices. The award comes after a major overhaul was passed in the way that state government contracts are awarded in 2010 sponsored by Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro).
Report: $3M spent on TV political ads in Tennessee so far in 2014 (AP/Schelzig)
A new study finds that nearly $3 million has been spent on broadcast TV advertising for state-level races in Tennessee so far this year. The report released by the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity on Wednesday found that 8,565 ads have run for and against judicial, gubernatorial and legislative candidates in the state. The August retention campaigns of Democratic state Supreme Court Justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade involved nearly 4,600 broadcast ads. The justices and their supporters spent $929,000, while opponents spent about $538,000. Despite the bruising TV campaign, the three justices cruised to comfortable victories.
Officials meet to discuss overcrowded Madison Co. jail (Jackson Sun)
The Madison County Criminal Justice Complex, built to hold 303 prisoners, was 29 inmates over capacity Wednesday morning and is consistently overcrowded. The county was told this summer that it could lose its certification if the overcrowding problem is not addressed. The county could also run into legal troubles because of the liability that comes with a crowded jail, according to Bob Bass, detention facilities specialist from Tennessee Corrections Institute. The County Corrections Partnership Committee was formed to address the problem, and Wednesday morning it met for the first time, discussing multiple ways the county could handle the issue. Bass met with members of the Madison County Commission, sheriff’s office, judges and others to see how the overcrowding problem can be solved.
Thousands in Hamilton County signed up for ACA health plan (TFP/Belz)
Last year, activists helping to sign people up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act were in new territory. Little was known about who would actually sign up for the newly available coverage, or how best to reach them. But this time around, activists hope to be more strategic — arming themselves with new local data that provide the first up-close analysis of enrollments. Figures released last week by the federal government break down the total number of sign-ups by ZIP code. Using that data, Get Covered America, an ACA enrollment advocacy group, mapped out county-by-county signups. More than 8,550 Hamilton County residents signed up for coverage on the new health insurance marketplace, according to Get Covered America.
Editorial: Changes to SCS teacher evaluation process will give more credibility (CA)
We have used this space in the past to support the new teacher evaluation system as a way to measure the effectiveness of teachers. We have said, though, it needed tweaking. Shelby County Schools Supt. Dorsey Hopson has taken a major step in that direction by making a change in how their classroom observations by principals are graded. The change is considered a major victory for teachers. Beyond that, since the evaluations are such an important element in teachers’ employment status, anything school administrators can do to make them more creditable in the minds of teachers, is a win for everybody. Now, the score a teachers gets from the principal is not final until the two have discussed it. Last year, teachers were not allowed to see how the principal scored the classroom visit until a conference. Teachers felt that diminished their ability to contribute to the discussion. The observations count for half of their job review. This year teachers had been told the principal’s score was final and could not be altered in the conference.