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Haslam Announces 135 Job Expansion at Federal-Mogul in Rutherford Co

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; August 27, 2014:

NASHVILLE—Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with Federal-Mogul officials announced today the company will invest $6.2 million to expand its current distribution facility in Smyrna, Tennessee and create 135 new jobs in Rutherford County.

“We are thankful for Federal-Mogul and their continued investment in our state and the new jobs they are creating in Middle Tennessee,” Haslam said. “When companies like Federal-Mogul choose to reinvest here, it speaks volumes about our workforce and the quality of Tennessee-made products, and today’s announcement is another step toward our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“Tennessee continues to set itself apart as a global leader in the automotive industry,” Hagerty said. “Major automotive manufacturers like Nissan, Volkswagen and General Motors support a robust pipeline of more than 900 automotive manufacturers and suppliers located throughout our state. I am pleased Federal-Mogul will continue to be a part of why Tennessee has been named the No. 1 state in the nation for automotive manufacturing strength an unprecedented four years in a row, and I appreciate the new jobs they are creating in our communities.”

“Federal-Mogul is pleased to continue investing in Smyrna,” Paula Silver, Federal-Mogul’s vice president of Corporate Communications and Investor Relations, said. “We have a dedicated and hard-working team here that takes pride in distributing high quality products for our customers. We are excited to grow our Smyrna operations and create more job opportunities.”

Federal-Mogul is expanding its existing Worldwide Aftermarket Distribution Center in Smyrna, due to the recent purchase of part of Affinia’s product line. Affinia is a leader in the manufacturing and distribution of automotive replacement products.

As part of this expansion, Federal-Mogul will increase its Smyrna footprint from 600,000 square feet to 800,000 square feet. This larger warehouse and distribution capacity will allow the facility to become more productive.

“Today’s announcement of 135 new jobs by Federal-Mogul is great news for the Town of Smyrna and Rutherford County,” Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed said. “The Town of Smyrna continues to experience positive job growth and we thank Federal-Mogul for their confidence in our community for this additional investment.”

Federal-Mogul Holdings Corporation is a leading global supplier of products and services to the world’s manufacturers and servicers of vehicles and equipment in the automotive, light, medium and heavy-duty commercial, marine, rail, aerospace, power generation and industrial markets. The company’s products and services enable improved fuel economy, reduced emissions and enhanced vehicle safety.

“TVA and Middle Tennessee Electric congratulate Federal-Mogul on its announcement to expand in Smyrna, Tennessee,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “We are pleased to partner with the state of Tennessee, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, and city and county officials to assist Federal-Mogul’s additional investment to create new jobs.”

In addition to its Smyrna location, Federal-Mogul has operations in Smithville and Sparta, Tennessee. In total, approximately 1,000 people are employed at Federal-Mogul’s three Tennessee locations.

People interested in applying for these new jobs in Smyrna should contact Missy Rogers, human resources manager, at Missy.Rogers@federalmogul.com.

Amid Looming Budget Issues, Haslam Doubles Down on Tax Cut Rhetoric

Gov. Bill Haslam has acknowledged that decreasing state revenues will make producing a new budget more difficult this year than any other he’s faced since taking office.

But the governor, speaking to a Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Murfreesboro this week, said the tax cuts he’s supported in the past were intended to attract and retain capital in the state, and as such the right thing to do.

“Businesses do look at the taxes they pay — it’s just a fact of life. And so, we’ve worked on making certain that Tennessee stays what it’s historically been: one of the lowest tax states,” Haslam said.

The Tennessee General Assembly has cut about $160 million a year in taxes, Haslam said. The taxes cut include the Hall Income Tax, a 10 percent cut from the grocery tax, the gift tax, which Tennessee was one of only two states with a tax on, and the inheritance tax.

“Prior to this in Tennessee, if you died you paid a penalty for that – beyond the obvious one — and we just didn’t think that was right,” Haslam said.

The shortage in revenue receipts is not from the sales tax, which is “at, or just a little below projections,” but with the state’s franchise and excise tax collections, “which is a little hard for me to explain – to understand, so we’re trying to dive a little deeper with our Revenue Department to see what the miss is there,” Haslam told reporters after the event.

Haslam noted he was worried by national reports showing that holiday weekend sales after Thanksgiving were down a bit. “Obviously, when you live on the sales tax, Thanksgiving weekend is a pretty big deal,” said the governor.

Haslam also touted his administration’s other efforts to produce a more business-friendly climate in the state, despite ongoing criticism from Democratic lawmakers. “The GOP promised that if we gutted worker and consumer protections that we would become an oasis of job creation. Instead, our workers are being left behind in an economic recovery that has led to lower unemployment numbers in most other states,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said in a press release slamming the Haslam administration over the state’s lofty unemployment.

However, Haslam stood by the reforms to tort law and workers compensation that his administration had pushed as helping to make the state “a much more attractive work environment.” The governor suggested that the political source of any economic sluggishness can be traced back to Congress and the president — in particular, the government shutdown and the questions surrounding the Affordable Care Act.

“People invest capital into a market that they have confidence in,” said Haslam, adding that confidence in Washington is low right now.

“So, what we’re trying to do in Tennessee is to provide that predictable environment that people know what they’re investing into. Unfortunately, the situation in Washington makes that very difficult to do, but we honestly think we can do that in Tennessee, and create that environment,” Haslam said.

Haslam: Improving Higher Ed Access a 2014 Priority

Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday that while he hasn’t finalized the particulars of his legislative agenda for 2014, higher education will clearly be a focus.

Haslam spent Tuesday in Murfreesboro talking up his administration’s efforts to encourage more Tennesseans to pursue an education beyond high school, emphasizing the importance of “higher ed” to economic development for the state.

“Government has a real role. One of the roles is to prepare the workers for the workforce,” Haslam told reporters after his announcement of an equipment grant of $625,007 to the Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Murfreesboro.

The grant is a portion of the $16.5 million in equipment and technology grants approved by the General Assembly last session for “workforce development programs” at Tennessee higher education institutions, a part of the governor’s “Drive to 55” initiative to “increase the number of Tennesseans with post-secondary credentials,” according to a press release.

Haslam said he views these grants as a “great investment” for the state that “will mean even more jobs coming to Tennessee in the future.”

Although the general unemployment in the state is still fairly high, the governor said “we have an impending shortage of skilled laborers in Middle Tennessee.”

In order to address that, and entice more businesses to relocate to the state, Haslam said that one of his administration’s top legislative priorities in the upcoming session will be improving access to higher education. “I think you’ll see a real focus on higher ed; both making certain that we have the job preparation programs, as well as we have to have a way that we can encourage more Tennesseans to attend school after high school, and so I think you’ll see some things around making that more affordable as well,” Haslam said after the grant announcement.

The governor also touted the importance of an increased number of degree-holding Tennesseans as necessary to continue job creation and economic development across the state at a luncheon event with the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce later that day.

The governor went down the list of programs enacted and laws passed in the name of enhancing the state’s economic status, and praised efforts to improve education – both K-12 and post-secondary – along with recently passed tax cuts, workers comp and civil service reform and his administration’s push for more exports.

Although the state’s business climate is one generally approved of by companies looking to relocate, a common complaint has been that Tennessee lacks in workforce development and has consistently ranked somewhere in the “40s” in education nationwide, Haslam said.

But the state has been working to improve that statistic, and with the release of the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress scores last month showing Tennessee as the “fastest growing state in the country,” it appears that the educational improvement efforts have been paying off, the governor said at the luncheon.

“It’s a really big deal when the commissioner of education in New York says, ‘If we work really hard we can be like Tennessee,’” Haslam said. “That’s a big deal, and that hasn’t been said a lot.”

TN Economy Said to Be Improving Despite Stagnant Jobs Climate

Although Tennessee’s unemployment rate has remained unchanged for the past three months, the state’s economic outlook is nevertheless improving, driven by growth in the Middle Tennessee region.

That was the take-home message from Dr. David Penn, director of the Middle Tennessee State University Business and Economic Research Center, who delivered remarks at MTSU’s Economic Outlook Conference on Sept. 27.

“Employment is still growing by one-point-seven percent every year. Depending on what happens with government employment, it’s conceivable Tennessee could reach recovery to pre-recession levels within about 12 to 18 months, at [the current] rate of growth,” said Penn.

The Tennessee heartland continues to show economic improvement, but growth has slowed across other parts of the state, Penn said, adding that statewide sales tax collections appear to be braking. The recovery’s sluggishness is actually due in no small part to the economic woes of Tennessee’s overseas trading partners, such as Japan, China and the European Union — and in general the state’s reliance on exports, he said.

Although the number of new unemployment claims is at its lowest level since 2007, and is continuing to slowly fall, the state’s unemployment rate has in fact slowly increased over the year, holding steady at eight-and-a-half percent for the past few months, despite a decline in the number of layoffs, Penn said.

Tennessee is still among the top 10 states for high unemployment rates, he added.

But the unemployment rate will be the last number to change as a result of former workers rejoining the labor force at a faster rate than jobs are created, and should not be considered an indicator of improvement, or the lack of it, in the economy, Penn said.

“[The] labor force [number] has hardly changed over the year,” Penn said. “What’s happening here is that folks are jumping back into the labor force after jumping out in 2010, when the participation rates dropped fairly significantly. They’re jumping back in, [and] the number of jobs is just barely growing enough to absorb them, keeping the unemployment rate almost unchanged over the year.”

Additionally, the rate of growth in real earned income has been “accelerating generally” since early 2012, and has been increasing at about the same pace as the national growth rate, Penn said.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are for the most part located in the Middle Tennessee. Several of them are about two percentage points below the state average.

Rutherford and Williamson Counties both place high on the Bureau of Labor Statistics list comparing job and wage growth in the 334 largest counties nationwide, with Rutherford ranking sixth and Williamson coming in at 15 in job growth.

However, when it comes to wage growth, Williamson far outpaces Rutherford, coming in at eighth while Rutherford lags behind at 249.

Davidson comes in at No. 86 nationally for job growth and No. 254 for wages. Knox, Hamilton and Shelby are also included on the list, coming in ranked at Nos. 260, 193 and 186, respectively, in employment, and 12, 290 and 216 for wages.

The Metro Nashville region, which includes Murfreesboro and Franklin, ranks No. 1 in private sector job growth among the largest metropolitan areas in the United States with a growth rate of four-and-a-half percent, according to BLS statistics. Private sector job growth rates for most of the counties in the Nashville area are much higher than the Tennessee state average of about two percent, with Rutherford County’s growth rate at almost eight percent, while Williamson County’s is about five percent and Davidson is at three-and-a-half percent.

“Job creation is booming for the Nashville Metro [area],” Penn said.

Rutherford Education Association Votes ‘No Confidence’ in Huffman

Press release from the Rutherford Education Association; October 1, 2013:

MURFREESBORO—Delegates of a recent Rutherford Education Association Representative Assembly took an unprecedented move to unanimously adopt a position of no confidence in Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman.

“Commissioner Huffman wants to make Tennessee the ‘fastest’ improving state in terms of education. It seems to me that if you want to go fast, you go by yourself, but if you want to go far, you go together,” said Rutherford Education Association President Emily Mitchell. “I wish Commissioner would include input from the outstanding educators we have in this great state so that students, teachers, parents and community members could go far together.”

REA’s vote comes after nearly 60 directors of schools signed a petition to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, urging him to put the brakes on Huffman’s education initiatives. Additionally, the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association took a similar vote of no confidence in Commissioner Huffman last month.

“Mr. Huffman has made it apparent while pushing his education initiatives that he does not respect or appreciate the students and teachers of Tennessee,” said Rock Springs Middle School teacher Dr. Melinda Pope. “As an educator, I have confidence in our teachers, students and parents. I will always have the students’ best interest at heart, as do all professionals. I just ask the leaders of this state to do so as well.”

“From a hasty implementation of a new evaluation system to the abolition of a proven state salary schedule, teachers fear public education is headed in the wrong direction,” Mitchell said. “Efforts to push education reform in Tennessee have already been dubbed “education deform” as record numbers of educators retire or leave the profession. This turnover often has a negative effect on the continuity of instruction in Rutherford County because the county has to constantly retain new teachers.”

Longtime public education advocate and award-winning educator Darrick Bowman of Siegel High School said he agrees with the vote of no confidence.

“Over the past two years teachers have not been treated as professionals, and I believe that there has been an attempt by many in this state to dismantle and discredit public education,” Bowman said. “Teachers agree that we need genuine reform. But the consistent betrayal of the classroom teacher, as well as the students we teach, coupled with virtually no input from classroom teachers regarding these vast changes must stop. That begins with a no-confidence vote in Commissioner Huffman.”

Haslam Announces 170 Position Expansion at Taylor Farms in Smyrna

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; July 3, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with Taylor Farms officials announced today the company will expand operations at its Smyrna, Tenn. facility, resulting in a $5.9 million investment and the creation of 170 new positions in Rutherford County.

“It is especially exciting when existing Tennessee businesses are growing and expanding here,” Haslam said. “I am grateful to Taylor Farms for the company’s continued investment in and commitment to Tennessee. Projects like these fuel job creation in our state and bring us one step closer toward our goal of making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“Tennessee remains a solid choice for incumbent industries to grow and expand with our central location, business-friendly environment and skilled workforce,” Hagerty said. “When companies like Taylor Farms continue to find success in our state, it underscores the significant job creation resulting from industry expansions, and I appreciate the company choosing to further invest in Smyrna and Rutherford County.”

“We are extremely excited for our continued growth in Rutherford County and Tennessee,” Taylor Farms Tennessee President Brian Thure said. “We pride ourselves on delivering the highest quality fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, and Tennessee’s centralized location in the Southeast gives us the ability to service 17 states within a day’s drive. This expansion will allow us to continue offering new and innovative products in all three lines of our business: retail, foodservice and deli.”

Taylor Farms is North America’s largest supplier of value-added fresh produce to the foodservice industry, offering a full product line of fresh-cut vegetables and salads. In addition to the Smyrna operations, located at 199 Sam Ridley Parkway East, the company has 10 processing plants in the U.S. and one in Mexico.

The high increase in sales and overall growth of the company has driven the need to expand and will also account for the addition of new product lines.

“The added growth of Taylor Farms is another example of the positive business environment in Smyrna,” Smyrna Mayor Tony Dover said. “We applaud their efforts, congratulate them on adding 170 jobs to our community and wish them many years of continued success.”

Interested persons can contact Taylor Farms Human Resources Manager Gena Shearon at gshearon@taylorfarms.com to learn more about available positions.

About Taylor Farms
Taylor Farms is an American-based producer of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. Founded in 1994 with the goal of becoming “America’s Favorite Salad Maker,” Taylor Farms currently ranks as the world’s largest producer of fresh-cut vegetables. With products that range from bagged salads to freshly prepared meals, Taylor Farms supplies many of the largest supermarket chains and foodservice restaurants in the United States. Taylor Farms headquarters are located in Salinas, California with regional processing plants in the following locations: Salinas, California; Tracy, California; Gonzales, California; Yuma, Arizona; Dallas, Texas; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Smyrna, Tennessee; Orlando, Florida; Annapolis, Maryland; Swedesboro, New Jersey; Chicago, Illinois; and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. For more information on Taylor Farms, visit our website at www.taylorfarms.com.

Rutherford Co. Deputy Arrested on Cocaine Trafficking Charges

Press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee; March 19, 2013:

Complaint Alleges Armed Deputy Arranged Purchase Of Seven Kilograms of Cocaine

Luis Reynaldo Parra Flores, 35, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a deputy with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department, was charged in a federal complaint in Nashville yesterday, with conspiring to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, announced Jerry E. Martin, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.

According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, on March 13, 2013, agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) intercepted a courier who arrived at the Nashville International Airport with seven kilograms of cocaine in his luggage. Federal agents and Metro Nashville drug detectives conducted an undercover operation to identify the individuals who planned to receive the cocaine. The affidavit alleges that Flores met with the cooperator and attempted to take delivery of the cocaine. After he did so, federal agents placed him under arrest and found that he was carrying a firearm and a badge identifying him as a Rutherford County Sheriff’s Deputy.

“The actions of a few corrupt law enforcement officers harms the reputation of the many dedicated men and women who wear the badge with honor,” said U.S. Attorney Jerry E. Martin. “We will always pursue those few who choose to dishonor their badge and will bring them to justice.”

“Flores failed the citizens of Rutherford County and the dedicated employees of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office and violated their trust,” said Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold. “We have a black eye and a bruised jaw. I am ashamed of his actions and I apologize to the citizens of Rutherford County. He has tarnished his badge and ruined the trust the citizens placed in him. His employment was immediately terminated and his badge has been destroyed and will never be worn again.”

If convicted, Flores faces a sentence of ten years to life in prison and a $10 million fine.

The case was investigated by the DEA, the 20th Judicial District Drug Task Force and the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Alex Little is representing the government.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

ACLU Report Documents ‘Devastating Impact’ of 287(g) Jail Program

Press release from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee; December 12, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee today released a report, “Consequences & Costs: Lessons Learned from Davidson County, Tennessee’s Jail Model 287(g) Program,” documenting the serious problems with the Davidson County Sheriff’s recently-ended 287(g) jail program. The purpose of the report, which is being sent to the Knox and Rutherford County sheriffs, both of whom have submitted 287(g) applications, is to explain the devastating impact of the program and to urge them to withdraw their applications.

“We hope that the Rutherford and Knox County sheriffs will read our report and recognize that it is in the best interest of their communities to withdraw their pending 287(g) applications. These programs only damage community trust in law enforcement, increase the potential for racial profiling and waste precious law enforcement resources,” said ACLU-TN Executive Director Hedy Weinberg.

The 287(g) program run by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency deputizes state and local police and sheriffs to enforce federal immigration law. DHS will meet on December 17 to make decisions on applications for new 287(g) agreements, including the applications submitted by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office. DHS is also currently reviewing its existing 287(g) agreements with 57 law enforcement agencies in 21 states whose agreements were temporarily extended, most until the end of December 2012 (1).

Weinberg noted, “We are especially concerned about Rutherford County’s application given the area’s history of hostility toward local Muslims and immigrants, including a Sheriff’s Office training led by a known anti-Islam speaker (2) and local legislators’ sponsorship of numerous harsh, anti-immigrant bills.”

Key findings from the report, based on original quantitative data analysis led by Professor Katharine Donato of Vanderbilt University’s Sociology Department as well as interviews with community members, include the following:

  • While the 287(g) program was developed with the stated goal of responding to “immigration violators who pose a threat to national security or public safety (3), ”the vast majority of the time, deportations through Davidson County’s 287(g) program were triggered by minor, often traffic-related offenses. 

    In 2012, misdemeanors accounted for nearly 79 percent of arrestsport on Impact of Davdof foreign-born people (4) and for those ultimately put into removal proceedings, a staggering 67 percent of their arrests were for Level 2 offenses, which was the level that included traffic violations in the data analyzed. Simultaneously, after implementation of 287(g), among the foreign-born population, arrests for the most severe Level 1 offenses actually decreased 21 percent, moving the program far from its stated goal of targeting threats to public safety.

  • Davidson County’s 287(g) program encouraged racial profiling and disparate treatment from stop to detention, based on characteristics such as appearance, ethnicity or language skills.Though under a jail model 287(g) agreement, the agency with immigration authority is not the same agency responsible for arresting people on the street, evidence from Davidson County illustrates how the program’s presence impacted the perceptions and actions of others involved in the criminal justice system, from police on patrol to other public officials, whose statements regarding the influence of language and immigration status on their decisions are included in the report.In addition, data shows that implementation of the 287(g) program in Davidson County corresponds with foreign-born people being arrested at an increasing rate for the single charge of “No Driver’s License,” which was not only the most common gateway charge for deportation in Davidson County, but also something that cannot be determined until after the individual is pulled over. If no other charge is brought, then the reason for pulling that person over is questionable at best and quite possibly a case of racial profiling. Of single charge arrests, the percentage that were for “No Driver’s License” increased 9.4 percent for the foreign-born after implementation of 287(g). The percentage of single-charge arrests for “No Driver’s License” that led to removal increased from 18 percent of arrests before implementation of 287(g) to 43 percent after, an increase of 136 percent.
  • The 287(g) program led to immigrants living in fear and distrust of law enforcement. Numerous examples in the report illustrate how, by introducing the threat of immigration enforcement into community policing, Davidson County’s 287(g) program deterred immigrants, including domestic violence survivors, from reporting crimes they experienced or witnessed, ultimately undermining public safety as a whole.

Lindsay Kee, Communications Director and author of the report, explained that “this program has been sold as an effective mechanism to deport dangerous criminals and make Nashville safer. Yet, our data indicates that of the nearly 10,000 individuals deported under 287(g), most had been arrested for minor violations. When you look at arrests of foreign-born people during 287(g)’s implementation, the percentage of arrests for the most dangerous crimes actually decreased.”

Yesterday the ACLU, along with 161 other organizations from across the country, also sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security calling for termination of the 287(g) program.

Read the full report: “Consequences & Costs: Lessons Learned from Davidson County, Tennessee’s Jail Model 287(g) Program.

(1) Fact Sheet: Delegation of Immigration Authority Section 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act, http://www.ice.gov/news/library/factsheets/287g.htm (last visited December 6, 2012).

(2) Bob Smietana & Tony Gonzalez, Sheriff Hires Mosque Foe to Lead Terrorism Training, The Tennessean (Feb. 15, 2012), available at http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-02-15/terrorism-training-tennessee/53102430/1.

(3) Fact Sheet: Delegation of Immigration Authority Section 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act, supra.

(4) Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, 287(g) Five-Year Report 8 (2012).

Hundreds Attend Rutherford Co. Job Fair

Press release from the Tennessee House Republican Caucus; August 29, 2012: 

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—While the economy may be showing signs of some improvement, a number of Tennesseans are still looking for work. Last week, an event in LaVergne helped to connect a number of them with large companies in the area.

The Tennessee Career Center at Murfreesboro and Representative Mike Sparks (R—LaVergne) co-hosted a Rutherford County Job Fair last Thursday. The event was held at Grace Assembly Church Worship & Community Center where a Tennessee Career Coach aided applicants in filing their information with interested employers as well as registering their information in the Jobs4TN Online program.

Over 430 applicants attended the event—one of the most successful to date. Participating employers included:

  • Metro Nashville Police Department
  • MAPCO Express
  • Embassy Suites Murfreesboro/Franklin
  • TN Highway Patrol
  • UPS
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc.
  • Yates Services
  • Operation Stand Down Nashville

Sparks stated, “This was a great event that would not have been possible without the help of Pastor Randy Berg and the staff of Grace Assembly. Without them stepping up to provide a location, we would not have had a place to stage this successful event.”

“With so many people looking for work, we need to try and have more events like this where employers are brought directly to the community,” continued the LaVergne Representative. “I am hopeful that, with the success of this job fair, we’ll attract more support from private sector companies so we can continue delivering this service to the people of Rutherford County.”

Overall, 30 local businesses participated in the event.

Rutherford Co. Schools Improve, Named Exemplary

Press release from the Tennessee House Republican Caucus; August 1, 2012: 

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The Tennessee Department of Education this week recognized school districts across the State that significantly improved student performance and narrowed achievement gaps under Tennessee’s new accountability system.

Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman announced the 21 districts that earned Exemplary designations for the 2011-12 school year. Among those receiving recognition was the Rutherford County School District.

Rutherford County, along with the 20 other districts, raised proficiency levels on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests; made substantial progress in closing gaps between groups of students; and ensured improvement for racial minorities, as well as students with disabilities, limited English proficiency, and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Rutherford County is blessed with talented teachers and a community that supports our school system. These results show we’re serious about excelling in education,” stated Representative Joe Carr (R—Lascassas), who serves as Vice-Chair of the Education Subcommittee and Secretary of the full Education Committee.

Representative Rick Womick (R—Rockvale) remarked, “Student achievement has been at the center of our education reforms. We want to make sure our children are equipped with the skills they need to compete in the 21st century job market and these results show we are on the right path.”

“Our students are led by incredibly gifted teachers,” added Representative Mike Sparks (R—Smyrna). “These remarkable individuals are helping our students close the achievement gap and ensuring Tennessee is a model for teaching excellence.”

A district-by-district look at Tennessee’s growth on this year’s TCAP can be found here.

Tennessee’s new accountability system replaces No Child Left Behind’s Annual Yearly Progress measures. Rather than expecting all districts to meet the same benchmarks year after year, the new system acknowledges that districts are starting from different places and rewards those that show the most growth.

The system, adopted after Tennessee secured a waiver from part of NCLB earlier this year, looks to districts to increase achievement levels for all students and reduce achievement gaps that exist between certain groups.