Officials visit McMinnville nursery, Chattanooga State and area businesses
CHATTANOOGA – House and Senate Democrats discussed agricultural and clean energy sectors as they continued their statewide jobs tour Thursday with stops in McMinnville and Chattanooga.
Officials began the morning at the TSU Nursery Research Facility in McMinnville, where they had breakfast with nurserymen who outlined the need for updated loan requirements and better communication with state agencies.
“We are blessed to have these nurseries in our region, thanks to our unique climate and growing conditions,” said State Representative Charles Curtiss. “We need to do everything in our power to ensure that these family businesses stay viable for future generations.”
Tour members then toured the research facility before traveling to East Tennessee, where Chattanooga tour members heard from Chattanooga State Community College officials about educational partnerships with area clean energy companies like Wacker. School officials also echoed the need for Tennessee high schools to raise awareness regarding technical career paths that lead to high-paying clean energy and engineering jobs.
Tour members then visited Chattanooga’s Office of Sustainability, where program director David Crockett highlighted the millions of taxpayer dollars that could be saved across the state through new, sustainable infrastructure projects.
“Tennessee’s clean energy efforts are more than just good for the environment – they’re good for governments and they’re good for business,” State Senator Andy Berke said. “The clean energy sector must be a major part of job growth strategy in the state.”
Members made their final stop of the day at SIAG Aerisyn, a German-based manufacturer of towers for wind turbines. Executives spoke of the effectiveness of job training grants, but were concerned about the scarcity of skilled welders given the high level of competition in the area.
“As large manufacturers outsourced more and more manufacturing jobs through the years, our skilled workforce disappeared,” said State Rep. JoAnne Favors. “Now that those jobs are coming back, we must work to avoid a potential shortfall in the workers to fill them.”
The jobs tour continues in East Tennessee on Friday with a full day in Knoxville. For more information, call (615) 812-2157.