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Blackburn Files Bill to Block FCC From Overriding State Municipal Broadband Laws

Press release from U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. 07; February 26, 2015:

Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) today introduced legislation to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from overriding state and local municipal broadband laws.

The Blackburn-Tillis legislation says that the FCC cannot pre-empt states with municipal broadband laws already on the books, or any other states that subsequently adopt such municipal broadband laws. The bill also includes a Sense of Congress stating that the FCC does not have the legal authority to prohibit states from implementing municipal broadband restrictions. Original co-sponsors of the House legislation included Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Robert Pittenger (R-NC), Renee Ellmers (R-NC), Mark Meadows (R-NC), and David Rouzer (R-NC).

Earlier today, the FCC voted to effectively overturn North Carolina and Tennessee state laws that set requirements and conditions on municipalities competing with the private sector in the broadband marketplace.

“The FCC’s decision to grant the petitions of Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina is a troubling power grab,” Blackburn said. “States are sovereign entities that have Constitutional rights, which should be respected rather than trampled upon. They know best how to manage their limited taxpayer dollars and financial ventures. Ironically, they will now be burdened by the poor judgment of a federal government that is over $18 trillion in debt and clearly cannot manage its own affairs.

“I’m pleased to be working with Senator Tillis on this important issue. As former state legislators, we strongly believe in States’ rights and will fight the FCC’s liberal agenda. Chairman Wheeler’s regulatory appetite appears to know no bounds and is seeping dangerously into the lives of Americans. It is time for Congress to assert itself and protect States once again from unelected Washington bureaucrats.”

“It is disturbing, yet not surprising, that the FCC and Chairman Wheeler are attempting to deny the sovereign right of states to make their own laws,” said Senator Tillis. “After witnessing how some local governments wasted taxpayer dollars and accumulated millions in debt through poor decision making, the legislatures of states like North Carolina and Tennessee passed commonsense, bipartisan laws that protect hardworking taxpayers and maintain the fairness of free-market competition. Representative Blackburn and I recognize the need for Congress to step in and take action to keep unelected bureaucrats from acting contrary to the expressed will of the American people through their state legislatures.”

Click here to read the bill text of the States’ Rights Municipal Broadband Act

TN Will Likely Keep Pledge to Grant VW $300M Incentives Package

Despite some Tennessee lawmakers displeasure with the growing influence of the United Auto Worker’s union at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, the Legislature appears likely to approve a $300 million incentives package for the automaker.

A few members of the General Assembly’s Hamilton County legislative delegation grumbled to the Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial board last week that VW’s continued acceptance of the labor union was causing them some consternation about whether or not to approve the proposed incentives in this year’s legislative session.

Sen. Todd Gardenhire, a Chattanooga Republican, told TNReport Wednesday he was upset with the automaker and labor union for “not honoring” the outcome of the unionization vote last year. “They voted in a fair election not to be represented by UAW, and then they turn around and ignore that,” he said. But Gardenhire added that if a promise was made by the state’s governors, the Legislature would “honor that” because they didn’t want to “embarrass the state.”

Likewise, Senate Speaker Pro Tem Bo Watson said while the incentives could probably come up  during the greater budget discussion, the Volunteer State has “a long history of honoring its commitments, and none of us collectively are going to allow that not to happen.”

Additionally, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, told reporters Wednesday that while he didn’t want the UAW to “slip in the back door because of a secret deal with Volkswagen,” he expected the Legislature to approve the incentives because “Tennessee will keep its promises.”

And despite the skepticism of Hamilton County legislators, the head of Volkswagen Group for the Americas said he is “very confident” the incentive package will be approved.

Gov. Bill Haslam said last week he understood the lawmakers unease, and he had “expressed” similar concerns as well, but he hoped the local lawmakers would support the incentives package because their votes — as the hometown gang — would be “very important” to its passage. The package was offered to the German company last summer to encourage expanded production at the Southeast Tennessee location. The automaker announced in July Chattanooga would be home to production lines for the new CrossBlue and Cross Coupe GTE.

“We’ll have those discussions about where we think Volkswagen is and why we think this is the right proposal for the state,” Haslam said.

Haslam added future efforts by Tennessee to recruit businesses could be harmed if the legislation fails. “We always put that as a caveat to the deal, that the Legislature has to approve, but historically, that has always happened in Tennessee,” he said.

Last February, the UAW failed an attempt to unionize the plant — 712 to 626 — leading them to file a complaint against several Tennessee politicians who suggested the unionization could interfere with the incentives. The UAW later dropped the case, citing the time it would have taken to settle.

Haslam said this Spring he hadn’t intended withholding incentives from the company as a threat — he was just making “a statement of reality.”

The UAW has since established a chapter at the plant, and currently claims to represent about 45 percent of VW employees, giving the labor group the right to meet with top managers every two weeks, as well as regular plant access. Because of the closeness of the labor vote Volkswagen adopted a new policy to allow multiple unions to represent workers, with representation rights depending on the number of employees the union speaks for.

A rival labor group — the American Council of Employees — has complained that VW is showing favor to the UAW. ACE has also been working to sign up members in what they call an effort to offer the plant’s employees a choice in representation.

The UAW announced in December that Chattanooga’s Local 42 had been invited to participate in an executive committee meeting of the Volkswagen Group Global Works Council in Germany this month. The ACE interim president has disputed the UAW’s numbers, and said a number of the signatures the autoworkers union claims are invalid.

The free-market Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee awarded its 2014 Yuletide season “Lump of Coal” jointly to UAW and VW. The Beacon Center bestowed the “dubious distinction” on UAW and VW for having “seemingly worked together to bilk the taxpayers of the state out of hundreds of millions of dollars,” a Beacon Center blog post declared. The center also alleged that despite being “firmly rejected” by employees at the plant, “UAW has continued trying to bully its way into the plant, and VW has seemingly been more than happy to comply.”

Feds Pitching Expanded Pre-K in TN

Arne Duncan wants more children to have access to taxpayer-financed early education programs.

During a stopover at Chattanooga’s Chambliss Center for Children on a three-state Southern swing, the U.S. secretary of education talked up pre-kindergarten as a key component of later student development. He said on the federal Department of Education blog that he was trekking through Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee to get a first-hand look at government-funded early-childhood-learning programs in action, and “discuss progress, promise and results.”

As in the past, Duncan praised reforms pushed by Tennessee Gov.  Bill Haslam, who — on education at least — is among President Obama’s favorite Republican governors.

Duncan said he’d like to see Tennessee continue working to burnish its new national reputation for innovative thinking on education policy by working closely with the federal government on fresh policy initiatives — like the state did when it went all-in with the president’s Race to the Top program.

In particular, the nation’s education czar said he’s hopeful Tennessee will choose to compete for a portion of the $250 million in federal preschool-development grants the feds are holding out as an incentive to encourage states to sign more kids up for early education programs.

The application deadline is Oct. 14.

Should Tennessee submit a winning grant application, “it could mean as much as $70 million over the next four years,” said Duncan. And that could go a long way toward shortening the waiting lists kids face to get into good pre-K programs, Duncan told a town-hall-style gathering Tuesday.

“Too many children start kindergarten a year to 18 months behind,” he said.

The grants Duncan is pitching would help prepare states to participate in President Barack Obama’s proposed “Preschool for All” program, “a federal-state partnership that would promote access to full-day kindergarten and encourage the expansion of high-quality preschool programs for 4-year-olds from low- and middle-income families,” according to a U.S. Department of Education news release issued last month.

While Duncan urged those in attendance at the Chattanooga event to spread the word about the value of pre-K, he also noted that academic success for young people is never guaranteed without sustained involvement from moms and dads.

“Whether it’s early childhood centers, whether it’s elementary schools, whether it’s middle schools, whether it’s high schools, there are no successful educational schools or programs that don’t have a very serious parental engagement component,” Duncan said.

Because of the importance of parents in education, the preschool grant initiative will only invest in programs that are “very serious, very strategic, very intentional” about improving parental participation in their children’s schooling, Duncan added.

Former Democratic state senator Andy Berke, who is now mayor of Chattanooga, also spoke about the importance of starting the education process with younger children. Berke touted Chattanooga’s investment in “Baby University,” a program intended to teach new parents how to be better parents, as well as the city’s request for a “Head Start” expansion grant.

But there’s a contingent of Tennessee politicians, particularly in the Republican-dominated state General Assembly, who remain unconvinced of the merits of early education — and they can point to independent research that tends to back them them up.

“The evidence shows that pre-K does not deliver as promised, and I’d be very hesitant to take money from the federal government to start a program,” Knoxville state Rep. Bill Dunn told TNReport Wednesday.

For starters, Dunn, a member of the House Education Committee, worries that there’s never any guarantee federal dollars won’t start drying up down the road, after the state is already committed to a program and it develops constituencies that’ve come to expect its services. It’s a similar concern GOP lawmakers in Tennessee voice  with respect to Washington, D.C.’s promises that it’ll be paying most of the tab for Medicaid expansion.

But beyond that, Dunn said there are clear indications pre-K isn’t the best place for the state to be targeting taxpayer resources so as to give Tennesseans the best “return on our investment.”

The state would be much better off spending money on improving the education environment and learning opportunities for older kids, like in kindergarten and first grade, said Dunn. The results are better, and with less cost, he said.

To back his claims that pre-K is proving less than effective, Dunn points to the preliminary results released about a year ago from an ongoing, long-term Vanderbilt study on how pre-K impacts student performance in later years.

Results from the Vanderbilt study released in August 2013 showed that “achievement measures observed at the end of the pre‐k year had greatly diminished by the end of the kindergarten year and the differences between participants and nonparticipants were no longer statistically significant.” Strikingly, the report also noted “a marginally significant difference” on reading comprehension “with nonparticipants showing higher scores at the end of the kindergarten year than (pre-K) participants.”

The report also noted “a significant difference that favored the nonparticipant group” on one of the study’s measures for “combined achievement in literacy, language, and math.”

In an interview with The Tennessean last year, Mark Lipsey, director of Vanderbilt’s Peabody Research Institute, which is conducting the pre-K investigation for the U.S. Department of Education, said that while “the whole story is not told yet,” there are indications from the ongoing study involving 3,000 children that “early achievement results have diminished considerably after the pre-K year, so that there is not a significant difference really between the kids who went to pre-K and the kids who didn’t.”

A multi-year study commissioned by the Tennessee Comptroller that was concluded in 2011 examined “whether there is evidence to suggest that Pre-K participation is associated with a positive effect on student performance in Grades K-5 relative to students who did not participate in pre-K.”

According to the pre-K effectiveness report summary submitted to the state comptroller, “no overall differences were found between Pre-K and non-Pre-K students in First Grade.”

The authors of that report wrote that children “who experience economic disadvantage tend to perform better than their non-Pre-K counterparts,” but also added that “this same pattern is not consistently observed for students who do not experience economic disadvantage, and the initial advantage attenuates and is largely diminished by the Second Grade.”

“Among students who do not experience economic disadvantage, the initial advantage of Pre-K is less evident, and the models suggest that they may experience slower academic growth over time,” according to the study.

Dunn said Tennessee education policymakers need to be taking note that studies appear to indicate that by some measures prekindergarten children aren’t just breaking essentially even with the non-preschool kids, “they actually scored worse.”

Gov. Haslam has indicated that he intends to keep funding the state’s preschool program at the same levels, and will consider any possible changes after the long-term study is complete, Dave Smith, Haslam’s spokesman, said in an e-mail. Those results are expected sometime in 2015.

Haslam Announces VW SUV Coming to TN

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; July 14, 2014:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Volkswagen Group of America officials announced today the company will expand its sole U.S. manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Volkswagen will add an additional manufacturing line and create the National Research & Development and Planning Center of Volkswagen Group of America. Volkswagen’s total global investment for the expansion will be $900 million, with $600 million invested in Tennessee and 2,000 new jobs being created in Hamilton County.

“Today is an exciting day not just for Chattanooga and Hamilton County but for all of Tennessee, and I want to thank Volkswagen for its significant long-term investment in our state,” Haslam said. “The impact of this announcement goes far beyond the 2,000 new jobs because of the large multiplier effect of the automotive industry, and adding an additional manufacturing line and the National Research & Development and Planning Center sends a clear signal that Tennessee can compete with anyone in the global marketplace.”

The expanded plant in the Enterprise South Industrial Park will manufacture a new automotive line, a midsize SUV for the American market. Production of the new SUV will begin in the fourth quarter of 2016 with the first vehicle expected to roll off the new assembly line by the end of 2016. The expansion will also create the National Research & Development and Planning Center of the Volkswagen Group of America.

“The United States of America is and will remain one of the most important markets of Volkswagen. Over the past few years, we have achieved a lot here. We are now launching the second phase of the Volkswagen campaign in the USA. With the midsize SUV, the expansion of the Chattanooga plant and the new development center, we are focusing on the wishes of US customers,” Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, in Wolfsburg said. “This is also a strong signal for the USA as an industrial and automobile production location. The Volkswagen brand is going on the attack again in America.”

“I deeply appreciate Volkswagen’s significant long-term commitment to the hometown and state that I love,” U. S. Senator Bob Corker said. “I am grateful for Governor Haslam’s steady leadership, for our mayors, our great community leaders and the workers at the Chattanooga plant, whose commitment to excellence helped pave the way for today’s announcement. Finally, I am thankful to be able to help see this through to today’s conclusion.”

Corker added, “One of the most meaningful days in my public service career occurred six years ago when I received the call from the Volkswagen board room that they had chosen Chattanooga. Today’s announcement is a similar high point, as VW’s significantly expanded presence means that thousands more families will benefit from the good paying jobs being created at the plant.”

“Hamilton County is pleased to partner with Volkswagen as they create 2,000 new family-wage jobs which will also generate very positive economic ripple effects for residents throughout our community,” Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said. “By working with Volkswagen to build on the tremendous success of their initial job creation project, we are establishing a foundation for continuing economic growth for years to come.”

“Volkswagen is one of Chattanooga’s largest and most valued employers. They have brought 12,400 living-wage jobs to our region, employed Chattanoogans and helped build our middle class. This expansion will result in a huge capital investment and thousands of new jobs,” Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said. “From day one, the city and county have worked hard to see today become a reality, when we can announce that Volkswagen will be adding more jobs, more investment and expanding their presence in Chattanooga.”

“This announcement is great for Chattanooga and great for Volkswagen,” Ron Harr, president & CEO of the Chattanooga Chamber, said. “Thanks to Volkswagen’s expansion, we will have a much easier time recruiting additional automotive suppliers to help them build out their supply chain while also cementing Chattanooga as ‘The Center of the Automotive South.’”

The state of Tennessee is providing a $165.8 million grant for costs associated with site development and preparation, infrastructure, production equipment acquisition and installation, and facility construction. In addition, the state will provide a $12 million grant for training new employees. As part of the incentive package, Volkswagen Group of America has agreed to waive its right to claim certain statutorily available tax credits directly related to the expansion.

Volkswagen Chattanooga currently employs 2,500 people. Hiring for new production positions will occur closer to the launch of the new product. The details of that application and assessment process will be announced at that time.

Immediate needs will center around professional candidates with skills in areas such as purchasing, logistics, engineering, and human resources to begin the preparations for the parts, equipment and people needed to produce the new product line. Interested candidates can search and apply for open positions online at vwjobschattanooga.com or on major online sites such as LinkedIn and CareerBuilder.

Corker Praises VW Decision to Build SUV in TN, Create 2K Jobs

Press release from the Office of U.S. Senator Bob Corker; July 14, 2014:

WOLFSBURG, Germany – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger were in Wolfsburg, Germany, today as Volkswagen CEO Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn announced that the company will build its midsize SUV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a more than $600 million investment in the region, which will add 2,000 jobs at the plant.

“I deeply appreciate Volkswagen’s significant long-term commitment to the hometown and state that I love,” said Corker. “I am grateful for Governor Haslam’s steady leadership, for our mayors, our great community leaders and the workers at the Chattanooga plant, whose commitment to excellence helped pave the way for today’s announcement. Finally, I am thankful to be able to help see this through to today’s conclusion.”

“One of the most meaningful days in my public service career occurred six years ago when I received the call from the Volkswagen board room that they had chosen Chattanooga,” added Corker. “Today’s announcement is a similar high point, as VW’s significantly expanded presence means that thousands of more families will benefit from the good paying jobs being created at the plant.”

Volkswagen will add an additional manufacturing line and create the National Research & Development and Planning Center of Volkswagen Group of America. Volkswagen’s total global investment for the expansion will be $900 million, with $600 million invested in Tennessee and 2,000 new jobs being created in Hamilton County.

The expanded plant in the Enterprise South Industrial Park will manufacture a new automotive line, a midsize SUV for the American market. Production of the new SUV will begin in the fourth quarter of 2016 with the first vehicle expected to roll off the new assembly line by the end of 2016. The expansion will also create the National Research & Development and Planning Center of the Volkswagen Group of America.

As mayor of Chattanooga from 2001-2005, Corker worked with officials and community leaders to develop the 1,200 acre Enterprise South Industrial Park, which is now home to Volkswagen’s North American manufacturing headquarters. Much of the negotiation that led to Volkswagen choosing Chattanooga occurred around the dining room table of Corker’s Chattanooga home.

Upcoming UAW Vote at VW Concerns TN Senate Labor, Commerce Cmte Heads

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; February 10, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn, (February 10, 2014) — The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Tennessee’s Senate Commerce and Labor Committee today expressed concern regarding the United Auto Workers (UAW) upcoming vote in Chattanooga, saying a vote for organized labor would harm Tennessee’s reputation as a business-friendly state and reverse the state’s recent progress in automobile-related job growth.

Chairman Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and Vice-Chairman Mark Green (R-Clarksville) said the General Assembly has worked in concert with Governors Phil Bredesen and Bill Haslam for the past several years to move forward policies to support Tennessee’s competitive standing in growing and expanding new and better paying jobs in the state. The lawmakers said that pending decisions of VW employees are of statewide interest at a pivotal time when Tennessee stands currently as a national leader in job creation.

“We greatly value our auto workers, both in Middle Tennessee and in Southeast Tennessee,” said Senator Johnson, a businessman whose legislative district is home to the General Motors Spring Hill plant and Nissan’s North America headquarters.

“Our communities are very similar with great neighborhoods, schools that focus on achievement and a local economy that is envied by many. The automotive industry is a very important part of the quality of life we enjoy.” “As Chattanooga workers vote on the United Auto Workers presence, it is a decision that transcends just one community,” he added. “There is tremendous competition for job growth among states. A vote for organized labor would impede our daily efforts to benefit Tennessee families as we compete nationally in job growth. I ask that Chattanooga lead to honor Tennessee’s competitive spirit so we can continue moving our state’s job growth forward. Chattanooga workers, we don’t need the UAW in our state.”

“In business, reputation means a lot,” added Senator Green, who is a practicing physician and businessman who represents the more rural Clarksville region that competes with industry across the state-line of Kentucky. “Tennessee has developed a reputation of a top location for families and businesses because of the lower cost of living, commitment to an educated workforce and folks keeping more of our wages by holding taxes low.”

“Volkswagen chose our state and your community for important reasons: Chattanooga workers have a great reputation of a great work ethic and make an excellent product. That reputation has been yours without the United Auto Workers,” he continued. “The free market that VW chose in our state produces competition, empowers employees far more than a labor union, and keeps bringing jobs to Tennessee.” The United Auto Workers vote is scheduled for Wednesday, February 12 through Friday, February 14 at the Volkswagen site in Chattanooga.

TNGOP to Air Presidential ‘Welcome Message’ Touting State’s Economic Success

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Party; July 29, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.— President Barack Obama will find a different kind of welcome mat rolled out for him in Tennessee when he arrives to tour the Chattanooga Amazon distribution plant on Tuesday. The Tennessee Republican Party has purchased airtime and will broadcast a welcome message to the President detailing the recent successes of the state.

“The message isn’t about President Obama or his feckless leadership on jobs and the economy–everyone is well aware of that dismal record,” stated Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney. “Instead, this ad is about the great things happening here in Tennessee because of Republican principles in action. We hope the President uses this opportunity to see what real leadership looks like and takes those lessons back to Washington. We’re the Party of opportunity and upward mobility in Tennessee and this ad touts that belief.”

The ad, which shows some of Tennessee’s stunning views and important landmarks, has a voiceover that lists just a few of the recent accolades given to Tennessee in the last year stating, “We’re fourth in job creation, top five for business, and the third freest state in the country, thanks to Republican leadership.” The ad continues stating, “In stark contrast to Washington, we’ve got the lowest debt of any state in the nation.”

In 2012 Tennessee’s gross domestic product grew faster than the country as a whole and personal income growth in Tennessee outpaced the country as well.

“Our economy and state are moving forward while we continue to see America stall under President Obama’s damaging economic policies. We hope that President Obama will see that Tennessee is the perfect example of Republican fiscal responsibility and free market approach working to grow the economy, increase personal wealth, and attract jobs. Like the ad says, ‘This is what America should look like,” concluded Devaney.

Click here to view the ad.

TN Urban Chambers Support Economic-Impact Studies of Proposed State Legislation

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; January 31, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 31, 2013) – Today, the regional chambers of commerce in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville announced their support for a measure that would require the Tennessee General Assembly to consider, as part of the analysis of proposed legislation, the financial impact of each bill on businesses and jobs within Tennessee.

“Tennessee already has a mechanism in place to measure the fiscal impact of proposed legislation on government,” said Ron Harr, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, referring to the production of fiscal notes produced by the legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee. “This bill takes the Fiscal Review Committee’s analysis one step further.”

SB 116/HB 220, sponsored by Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro and Rep. Mark White of Memphis, directs the Fiscal Review Committee to include an “impact-to-commerce statement” in its fiscal note for bills and resolutions referred to certain committees.

“This bill is about making better-informed decisions by ensuring that our elected officials understand the effect new laws will have on our state’s employment and economic well-being,” said Mike Edwards, president and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber.

If this legislation becomes law, certain fiscal notes would include a statement about the net immediate and long-term effect each bill would have on commerce and jobs in the state. The impact to commerce statement would include, if possible, an estimate in dollars of the anticipated change in costs or savings to commerce.

“Our elected officials want to play a key role in creating jobs and economic prosperity,” said John Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber. “An analysis of a bill’s impact on business will give our legislators another tool to help accomplish that goal.”

The new analysis would only apply to bills that have a direct impact on commerce and would be limited to the following committees: House business and utilities committee; House finance, ways and means committee; House state government committee; House local government committee; House insurance and banking committee; House consumer and human resources committee; Senate commerce, labor and agriculture committee; Senate finance, ways and means committee; and Senate state and local government committee. If a piece of legislation impacted multiple industries in different ways, the analysis would focus on the overall net impact to commerce in the state.

“A recent survey of our members found that 88 percent of respondents believe that new legislation should be evaluated for its financial impact on business,” said Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. “Every year the Tennessee General Assembly considers proposals that have a bottom-line impact on our businesses. We believe every Tennessee business will benefit from a more-informed legislative process.”

In the area of K-12 public education, the four urban chambers’ 2013 joint legislative agenda also includes proposals to ensure student test results are in the hands of principals, teachers and administrators more quickly, and that each high school’s ACT scores are more easily accessible to the public. The four urban chambers’ full 2013 legislative agenda is attached.

About the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce:
Founded in 1887, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce is the region’s leading business association with more than 1,600 member companies employing more than 10,000 people. The Chattanooga Chamber is the spearhead of the business community, acting as the catalyst, convener, representative and resource for ensuring that the Chattanooga area achieves its outstanding business potential. We provide the focal point for the business community to fulfill its leadership role in making the Chattanooga area vibrant, prosperous and forward-looking. The Chattanooga Chamber has earned 4-Star Accreditation by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a distinction that places us among the top 10 percent of Chambers nationwide. For more information, visit www.chattanoogachamber.com.

About the Knoxville Chamber:
The Knoxville Chamber is the region’s leading business organization with more than 2,000 members that employ more than 276,000 individuals. More than 80 percent of Chamber members are small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. It fulfills its mission of Driving Regional Economic Prosperity by recruiting new businesses and supporting existing companies, and serves as the lead economic development agency in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley. The organization has an active government advocacy program and supports pro-business policies. Members receive marketing, networking, professional development benefits, and many other cost-effective services. For more information, visit www.knoxvillechamber.com.

About the Greater Memphis Chamber:
The Greater Memphis Chamber is the lead economic development agency for Memphis/Shelby County, and is a private, non-profit, membership-driven organization comprised of 2,300 business enterprises, civic organizations, educational institutions and individuals. For more information, visit www.memphischamber.com.

About the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce:
The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is Middle Tennessee’s largest business federation, representing more than 2,000 member companies. Belong, engage, lead, prosper embodies the Chamber’s focus on facilitating community leadership to create economic prosperity for Middle Tennessee. The work of the Nashville Area Chamber is supported by membership and sponsors; the Chamber’s Pivotal Partners (a partnership at the highest level for all Chamber programs and events) are BlueCross/BlueShield of Middle Tennessee, Community Health Systems and Delek US Holdings. Together with its affiliates, the Nashville Chamber works to strengthen the region’s business climate and to enhance Nashville’s position as a desirable place to live, work and visit. For more information, visit www.nashvillechamber.com.

Jackie Robinson Film Begins Production in Chattanooga

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; June 6, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty visited the set of “42” in Chattanooga on Friday, May 25. The feature film is based on the story of baseball great Jackie Robinson and is written and directed by Academy Award® winner Brian Helgeland. The film stars Chadwick Boseman as Robinson, the heroic African American who was the first man to break the color line in the big leagues and whose uniform number, “42,” is the only one to be retired by Major League Baseball. Harrison Ford stars as Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey, the MLB executive who first signed Robinson to the minors in 1945 before bringing him up to the majors two years later.

The movie is currently being shot at the historic Engel Stadium and other locations in Chattanooga. The Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission worked with local city and county officials to bring the production to the state.

Slated for release on April 12, 2013, the film will open in time to commemorate the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson Day – April 15, the date of his first game as a Brooklyn Dodger – and on the heels of the opening of the 2013 MLB season.

To see photos from Commissioner Hagerty’s visit to the set of “42”, click here.

Chattanooga Touted as Economic Success Story

Chattanooga, with its low unemployment and increasing property values, is showcased as something of an economic turnaround story in today’s Wall Street Journal.

The city’s riverfront development, Internet connections that can reach speeds 200 times the U.S. average, and the attraction of employers Amazon and Volkswagen are touted as evidence the city has undergone a rebirth in the last 50 years.

The writer revisits the loss of manufacturing jobs in the ‘60s and brings the story forward through renewal and development in the subsequent three decades: “By the mid-1990s, the downtown boasted new museums, a theater and an aquarium. Next, city leaders turned to wooing businesses.”

That taxpayers and their pocketbooks continue to play a major role in the city’s growth is not lost in the praise, with criticism of “corporate welfare” on the one hand, a belief that such grants are indispensable on the other.

For now, the proponents are winning. All Tennesseans are chipping in. The state program called FastTrack used to entice Amazon and Volkswagen’s operations to Tennessee is poised to expand.