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Haslam Announces Focus on Workplace Development

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor Campaign, April 6, 2010:

Transitions from Jobs Tour to Focusing on Specific Labor Force Strengths and Needs in Tennessee

KNOXVILLE – Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam announced today plans to focus on Tennessee’s workforce development needs and opportunities through an intense statewide effort that will include visits to community colleges, technology centers, secondary education vocational programs, and unique partnerships and opportunities at Tennessee businesses.

Unemployment in Tennessee continues to be a major issue, and stimulus funding that has softened the blow of budget shortfalls will run out in less than a year. The latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show more than 321,000 Tennesseans out of work and an unemployment rate hovering at 10.7 percent.

All candidates contend that job creation is the No. 1 issue they hear about on the campaign, but Mayor Haslam is the only one offering specific solutions to spur job creation and local economies. Mayor Haslam recently concluded a three-week, statewide Jobs Tour, unveiling six key policy focuses and initiatives while holding 22 roundtables with small business owners, local officials and economic development professionals; meeting with more than 314 leaders; and visiting 58 businesses on site.

Along the way, the single most common concern expressed by Tennessee business owners and economic development professionals was the shortage of educated and well-trained workers in Tennessee.

“Having led a Tennessee-based business and recruited jobs to Knoxville as mayor, I understand all the great things our state has to offer entrepreneurs looking to start a business here, small business owners looking to grow, and out-of-state businesses looking to relocate or expand into Tennessee,” Haslam said.

“We have no state income tax, each region has unique assets on which we can build, and Tennessee’s natural resources contribute to a high quality of life for its citizens. We’re also a right-to-work state, and our labor force is made up of honest, hard-working individuals,” Haslam continued. “But in order to bring the jobs of the future to our state and ensure every Tennessean has the opportunity to obtain a good job, we’ve got to increase the percentage of our workforce that receives high quality postsecondary education and training.”

Beginning in Northeast Tennessee with visits to Walters State Community College, the Tennessee Technology Center at Elizabethton, and East Tennessee State University, Mayor Haslam initiated his focus on workforce development on the campaign trail yesterday. After spending today and Wednesday performing mayoral duties in Knoxville, he will resume his efforts to address workforce development on Thursday with stops in Blount, Bradley, and Loudon counties. The Mayor’s schedule for the rest of the week can be found below.

“As governor, my top priority will be to make Tennessee the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs,” Haslam said. “But we’ll never get there while our K-12 education system lags behind most other states in the region and around the country, roughly 28,000 students drop out of high school in a given year, and just over a fifth of Tennesseans possess a bachelor’s degree.

“The good news is that there are innovative programs and practices popping up all across the state. That’s why I’m continuing to travel the state to learn more about how we can address Tennessee’s workforce development needs.”

Bill Haslam is the two-term Mayor of Knoxville, re-elected in 2007 with 87% of the vote. A hardworking, conservative public servant, he led Knoxville to become one of the top ten metropolitan areas for business and expansion, while reducing the city’s debt, tripling the rainy day fund, and bringing property taxes to the lowest rate in 50 years. An executive leader with a proven record of success, he helped grow his family’s small business from 800 employees into one of Tennessee’s largest companies with 14,000 employees. His combination of executive and public service experience makes him uniquely qualified to be Tennessee’s next Governor. Haslam is the right person at the right time to lead Tennessee.

Bill and Crissy Haslam have two daughters, Annie and Leigh, and a son, Will, who resides in Knoxville with his wife, Hannah.

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