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Haslam Announces Expansion of WS Packaging in Knoxville

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; February 6, 2014:

NASHVILLE—Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with WS Packaging Group, Inc. officials today announced the company will expand its current operations in Knoxville by opening a new location in the PBR Building, located at 10215 Caneel Dr. In order to increase its operations to accommodate more industry market share, WS Packaging Group will also consolidate its Knoxville facilities to this more central location. The company will invest $43 million and create 231 new jobs.

“I want to thank WS Packaging Group for reinvesting in Tennessee, and I appreciate the new jobs being created in Knox County,” Haslam said. “One of the priorities in our Jobs4TN strategy is companies already doing business in Tennessee, and whenever a company already operating here decides to stay and expand, it further supports our goal of becoming the No. 1 location the southeast for high quality jobs.”

“I’m pleased WS Packaging Group can continue to benefit from Tennessee’s ideal business climate. As a state with the lowest per capita debt in the nation and our superior logistical advantages, we pride ourselves on investing in incumbent businesses,” Hagerty said. “I appreciate the new jobs WS Packaging Group is creating in our state and look forward to their continued presence in Tennessee.”

WS Packaging Group, Inc. is one of the largest label converting operations in North America with more than 45 years of experience in label printing and packaging. It operates 21 manufacturing facilities and produces high-quality packaging products. Its customers range in size from small businesses to large, high-volume manufacturers and consumer product goods companies doing business locally, nationally and in marketplaces worldwide. The company has more than 1,800 employees.

Through this consolidation of facilities and expansion, WS Packaging Group will move all of their Knoxville facilities to the new location in the PBR Building to create synergy between the different operations, and plans to complete the move to their new facility by mid-July.

“WS Packaging Group has a long-standing history as a leading provider of complex label solutions for branded consumer and business-to-business products for companies throughout North America,” WS Packaging chief executive officer Rex Lane said. “This expansion in Knoxville will allow us to meet the changing and growing needs of our customer base. It also will enable us to leverage a strong business environment, with support from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, to create additional employment opportunities.”

“I’m proud that WS Packaging chose to expand their operations into Knox County’s Westbridge Business Park,” Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said. “These 231 new manufacturing jobs to our community are very welcome news.”

“WS Packaging’s $43 million expansion represents one of the largest manufacturing capital investments by an existing industry in Knox County in the past decade,” Knoxville Chamber President & CEO Mike Edwards said. “This is precisely why we have a sharp focus on business retention and expansion programs in our Innovation Valley economic development strategies.”

“TVA congratulates WS Packaging Group in Knoxville on their major expansion announcement that will add quality jobs for area residents,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “TVA and Lenoir City Utilities Board value the partnership with the state of Tennessee, Knoxville Chamber, and city and county leaders, which assists existing businesses to invest and grow locally.”

The company plans to begin initial hiring in March and April. People interested in applying for one of these new jobs can visit www.jobs4tn.gov or inquire at the Tennessee Career Center at Knoxville. Interested parties can also visit www.wspackaging.com for more information.

Tennessee was recently selected the No. 1 state in the nation for economic development by Business Facilities Magazine. Hagerty added, “The governor and I are pleased to see the results of the new strategy we put in place when the governor took office in 2011. Being named No. 1 in the U.S. underscores the fact that the governor’s strategy is working.”

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Haslam Announces Expansion of W Squared Operations in Brentwood

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; November 13, 2013:

NASHVILLE—Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, along with W Squared officials today announced the company will expand its operations in Brentwood, Tenn. W Squared will invest $4 million in infrastructure, including the addition of nearly 30,000 square feet to its location at 5500 Maryland Way, which is expected to open in late spring of 2014. Through this expansion, W Squared will create 115 new jobs in Williamson County in order to support a rapidly expanding client base and an increase in business nationwide.

“I want to thank W Squared for reinvesting and expanding in Tennessee, creating these valuable jobs in Brentwood and Williamson County,” Haslam said. “W Squared has experienced rapid growth since it opened eight years ago, and these new positions reinforce our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the southeast for high quality jobs.”

“Tennessee’s business-friendly environment allows companies like W Squared to thrive and become invaluable members of the community,” Hagerty said. “I appreciate the company’s continued commitment to the state and its confidence in our workforce. I welcome this important investment W Squared is making in our state.”

W Squared’s outsourced solutions allow its clients to focus on their core competencies. By providing technology-managed services, healthcare information technology, finance and accounting, human resources, procurement and information security solutions, W Squared removes scale as an obstacle for clients and offers a complete corporate back office. Selected individually, each solution provides resolutions to barriers inhibiting growth. A step beyond traditional business process outsourcing, W Squared provides not only process expertise, but also business expertise creating a business process partner relationship.

“We are very excited about the continued expansion of W Squared. Over the years we have built an impressive client base, which includes many premier healthcare companies in Middle Tennessee,” W Squared President Tammy Howell said. “Thank you to the state of Tennessee and TVA for recognizing our growth. Their contributions will go towards continued investment in infrastructure as well as additional training and professional development for our highly skilled workforce. This will enable us to continue attracting top talent to service our clients.”

W Squared began operating in Brentwood in 2005 and employs about 170 people at its Maryland Way location.

“W Squared is a great example of a management company, one of our fastest growing sectors, that continues to hire very high-level paying jobs,” Williamson County Chamber of Commerce Interim-Director for Economic Development Jeremiah Pyron said. “This expansion not only benefits W Squared, but Williamson County and the surrounding region as a whole. I want to thank W Squared for their investment and for their work as a valued corporate citizen in our community.”

“TVA congratulates W Squared on their announced plans to expand and add new jobs in the Brentwood area,” TVA senior vice president of Economic Development John Bradley said. “TVA and NES are glad to be economic development partners with the state of Tennessee, Williamson County, and other community leaders to help existing companies like W Squared grow in our region.”

In 2012 and 2013, Inc. Magazine named W Squared among America’s fastest-growing private companies in its Inc. 5000, recognizing W Squared for their three-year sales growth of 250%. Inc. Magazine also featured W Squared in the ranking of Inc.’s 2012 and 2013 Hire Power Awards, recognizing the private businesses that have generated the most jobs in the past three years. W Squared is also a finalist for the 2013 NEXT Awards recognizing excellence in business and entrepreneurship in Middle Tennessee.

W Squared is accepting applications for highly skilled professionals in the IT, HR and accounting fields now. Interested candidates can apply by emailing jobs@wsquared.com.

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Haslam Announces UBS to Establish Shared Services Center in Nashville

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; August 28, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean along with UBS officials announced today the company will establish a shared services center in Nashville. The announcement, representing a $36.5 million investment by the company, will create 1,000 new jobs over the next five years.

“It is exciting that UBS – one of the world’s largest banking and financial services companies – is making this significant investment in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “We are grateful for the high quality Tennessee jobs the company is creating. Companies can choose to do business anywhere in the world, and it says a lot for Tennessee and Nashville that UBS wants to be here.”

“Tennessee’s No. 1 ranking for job growth in the Southeast is only further enhanced by the added momentum of today’s 1,000 job announcement,” Hagerty said. “Our internationally competitive state provides global companies like UBS with an ideal location, a skilled workforce and attractive business climate which, in turn, allows companies to offer high-wage employment opportunities to Tennesseans. I appreciate UBS’ further investment in our state’s robust business services sector and congratulate the company on its latest success.”

UBS currently provides operations support in Nashville through over 200 employees in addition to its full service Wealth Management office. The new UBS Nashville Business Solutions Center will offer expanded business services in support of their wealth management and investment banking divisions.

“Expanding our presence in Nashville is the right business decision for UBS,” Kathleen Lynch, chief operating officer, UBS Group Americas and Wealth Management Americas, said. “The new UBS Nashville Business Solutions Center is part of our global strategy to continuously improve our efficiency and effectiveness for the benefit of our clients and shareholders.”

“The decision by UBS to bring 1,000 quality jobs to Nashville speaks to the skilled workforce in our area and the high quality of life here,” Mayor Dean said. “I welcome UBS’ Shared Services Center to Nashville and am proud that our city is increasingly being recognized as the premier location for global companies to centralize their operations.”

“A $36.5 million investment and the creation of 1,000 new jobs is outstanding news for Tennessee,” U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said. “I want to thank UBS and its employees for their commitment to the Nashville area and congratulate them on their latest success.” Corker, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, added, “Governor Haslam and his economic development team continue to attract high quality jobs to Tennessee, and I could not be more proud to join them in welcoming UBS to Nashville.”

“We are excited that UBS has chosen to expand in the Nashville region,” Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ralph Schulz said. “As a financial services industry leader, UBS is creating high‐quality jobs as well as making a significant investment in our region. Our team looks forward to continuing to support the company’s workforce needs as it grows.”

“Congratulations to UBS on their continuing growth and announcement to expand in Nashville,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “TVA is privileged to be an economic development partner with the State of Tennessee, Metro Government of Nashville & Davidson County, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Nashville Downtown Partnership to assist new investments and job creation by global companies like UBS.”

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Press Releases

Jack Daniel Expanding Operations in Lynchburg

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; August 22, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with Brown-Forman Corporation officials announced today expansion plans for the Jack Daniel Distillery in response to global demand for its world famous Tennessee Whiskey. The $103 million investment includes the addition of stills, barrel warehouses and related infrastructure to support the expanding operations, and will result in the creation of 94 new full-time positions over the next five years.

“I want to thank the Jack Daniel Distillery for today’s announcement and their continued investment in the people of Lynchburg and Tennessee,” Haslam said. “This company is an American brand but, more importantly, a Tennessee brand well recognized across the world, making it a global ambassador for our home state. Jack Daniel’s is one of our most historic exports, and it helps us in our efforts to bring new Tennessee products to the world marketplace.”

“Jack Daniel’s is a well-respected brand that boasts a rich history filled with Tennessee tradition,” Hagerty said. “The substantial expansion set to occur in the upcoming years is tremendous for the community and underscores Tennessee’s No. 1 ranking for job growth in the Southeast. I appreciate the company’s continued investment in the state and the jobs created from today’s impressive announcement.”

Construction will begin this fall and is expected to be completed within two years. The distillery expansion will be located on distillery property in the Lynchburg area and tied to the same source of cave spring water.

“The demand for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey worldwide speaks volumes for the craftsmanship and specialness of a spirit distilled from a small cave spring hollow in Tennessee,” Jeff Arnett, master distiller of the Jack Daniel Distillery, said. “The expansion will help Jack Daniel’s continue to bring our distinctive, charcoal-mellowed whiskey to the world and to follow Mr. Jack’s belief when he said, ‘Every day we make it, we’ll make it the best we can.’”

“Lynchburg is proud to be home to America’s oldest distillery and a world class tourist destination,” Metropolitan Lynchburg-Moore County Mayor Sloan Stewart said. “As an outstanding corporate citizen, we’ve built a strong relationship over the years, and we appreciate all that Jack Daniel’s has done to give back to the community. We look forward to many years of continued success.”

“TVA and Duck River Electric Membership Corporation congratulate the Jack Daniel Distillery as it expands operations and warehousing capabilities,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “It is exciting to see existing companies prosper. We are pleased to be partners with the state of Tennessee and local leaders as they help existing business and industry invest and add jobs within their community.”

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey has grown volume for 21 consecutive years, underscoring the brand’s premium and iconic image. The Jack Daniel’s family of brands grew global net sales by 9 percent in the last fiscal year.

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Press Releases

Haslam Announces ARAMARK to Open Nashville Service Center

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; July 17, 2013:

NASHVILLE—Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, along with ARAMARK officials and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean today announced the creation of a new ARAMARK Business Services Center in Nashville. The center will create more than 1,000 new jobs over the next three years and represents an investment of approximately $20 million in Davidson County.

“We are grateful to ARAMARK for the significant number of job opportunities created by the new Business Services Center and the company’s continued investment in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “It is a strong vote of confidence when companies that are already doing business here make key decisions to expand and grow their operations in Tennessee. The success of existing businesses plays a critical role in our goal to be the no. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“ARAMARK’s decision to launch a new business services center in Middle Tennessee underscores Tennessee’s momentum in job recruitment that is unmatched in the Southeast,” Hagerty said. “Tennessee is demonstrating every day why we are now No. 1 in the Southeast for job growth, personal income growth and GDP growth. I want to thank ARAMARK and its management for making this valuable investment in Tennessee.”
“This new Business Services Center will play a pivotal role in providing exceptional service to our clients,” CEO and President of ARAMARK Eric Foss said. “We are pleased to grow our already substantial presence in Tennessee and Metropolitan Nashville.”

“ARAMARK’s creation of more than 1,000 new jobs in Nashville speaks to the deep and talented workforce in our city and the high quality of life that supports our robust economy,” Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said. “I welcome ARAMARK’s Business Services Center to Nashville and am proud that our city is increasingly being recognized as the premier location for global companies to centralize their operations.”

ARAMARK is a global leader in delivering food, facility and uniform services for businesses, schools and universities, hospitals, stadiums and various other institutions. The new Business Services Center will consolidate and centralize certain financial and human resources services that are currently dispersed across the company’s North American operations.

ARAMARK is in the process of securing its new facility in southeast Davidson County and plans for the Business Services Center to be operational by year-end.

“Our goal is to start hiring as soon as possible and bringing employees onboard to train as we finalize our site preparations,” said Brian Gabbard, ARAMARK Vice President, Global Business Services.

ARAMARK officials said the company evaluated several locations throughout the country where it has operations before deciding on Nashville. “We felt that the strong local employment base along with other key factors made Metropolitan Nashville the ideal site for our new Center,” Gabbard added.

“Congratulations to ARAMARK on their continuing growth and announcement to locate in Nashville,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “TVA is pleased to be an economic development partner with the State of Tennessee, Metro Government of Nashville & Davidson County, and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce to assist new investments and job creation by global service companies like ARAMARK.”

“We are excited that ARAMARK has chosen Nashville for their new shared services center.” CEO and President of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce Ralph Schulz said. “The thriving economy of the Nashville region and our skilled workforce creates a perfect environment for ARAMARK’s continued success. This project will have a significant impact on our entire region and our team looks forward to working with ARAMARK as they make move to their new location.”

ARAMARK is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pa. and employs more than 250,000 associates across 22 countries, including more than 3,200 in Tennessee. The company has several facilities throughout the state and provides food, facility and uniform services to more than 9,000 Tennessee clients including, University of Tennessee, Meharray Medical College, American General Insurance and Lifeway Christian Resources.

Work will transition to the new Nashville center over the next 36 months as the center grows its local operations. Job seekers interested in opportunities at ARAMARK’s new Business Services Center can submit resumes or seek additional information by emailing ARAMARKJobs@outlook.com.

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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.

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ProNova Solutions Medical Sciences Company to Locate HQ Facility, Research Lab in Blount Co

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; February 21, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with ProNova Solutions officials today announced the medical sciences company will locate a headquarters facility and research and commercialization laboratory in Alcoa, Tenn. The announcement represents an investment of $50 million and the creation of 525 new positions in Blount County.

“I want to thank ProNova for their investment in Blount County that will not only benefit our citizens and economy but cancer patients and physicians worldwide,” Haslam said. “Our Jobs4TN strategy includes leveraging our state’s unique assets, such as those in research and development, and the remarkable technology companies like ProNova are creating will help us toward our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“Our state has a rich history of entrepreneurial success stories, and entrepreneurship and innovation can drive economic growth and create job opportunities for our citizens,” Hagerty said. “Tennessee is a top 10 state when it comes to research and development expenditures, and we are focused on leveraging our state’s extraordinary R&D assets, commercializing new technologies and growing innovative companies right here in the Volunteer State.”

ProNova, in coordination with Provision Health Alliance, is developing next-generation proton therapy technology to treat cancer. Proton therapy benefits include a significant decrease in tissue damage, decrease in debilitating side effects and a decrease in secondary cancers from unnecessary radiation exposure, which brings the potential for patient cost savings by decreasing these complications.

“This is an important milestone for ProNova Solutions that signifies not only the next step in the advancement of proton technology, but it’s also an important investment in the Blount County community,” said Dr. Terry Douglass, Chairman of ProNova Solutions. “With the Provision Center for Proton Therapy located in Knoxville and now the ProNova site in Alcoa, this is truly a regional effort and one we hope will benefit not only the citizens of East Tennessee, but that it will bring the next innovation in cancer treatment to patients and physicians across the globe.”

“This collective effort from many different entities really shows how far we’ve come to realize that an investment like this benefits the area as whole and not just one town, community or county,” said Chuck Alexander, chair of Blount Partnership Economic Development Board. “ProNova’s project is more than double the capital investment than the Blount Partnership has made in the park. Thank you to Pronova for sharing in our vision of building a technology community.

Becoming the anchor tenant at the Pellissippi Place technology research and development park, ProNova will construct two facilities on 26 acres in phases over the next few years. The first phase consists of a 30,000 square foot two-story office and research building with a 40,000 square foot assembly and test area initially supporting 35 employees and growing to 110 by 2015.

Phase two adds a 120,000 square foot two-story building with a projected staff of 110 in 2015 and expanding to a cumulative total of 525 by 2018.

A total of nearly 200,000 square feet will be used upon completion of both phases, including approximately 130,000 in office space and 60,000 of commercialization and research space.

ProNova’s proton therapy system is called the ProNovaSC360 and the first systems will ship in 2015. While it’s a lower-cost, smaller, lighter and more energy efficient proton therapy solution, the SC360 will not sacrifice any clinical capabilities but will add even more benefits not available in current-generation systems. Features include 3D anatomical and functional imaging at the isocenter, 360 degree treatment of the patient and an efficient workflow that mimics traditional radiation therapy.

Provision broke ground in April 2012 on a $119 million proton therapy cancer center at Dowell Springs Business Park off Middlebrook Pike in Knoxville. The 90,000 square-foot facility is expected to open in early 2014 and be able to treat 1,000 patients per year. Additionally, the center will be integrated into the research program at the University of Tennessee to train future medical professionals.

About ProNova Solutions, LLC

ProNova Solutions is aggressively developing the next generation of cancer therapy technology in a highly integrated proton therapy medical system. The fusion of state-of-the-art imaging, multi-axis precision positioning, superconducting magnet technology and unprecedented closed-loop treatment verification using PET gives ProNova customers an economic and clinical advantage. Learn more at www.pronovasolutions.com.

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Smucker Co. to Convert Existing Facility, Keep 125 Jobs in Memphis

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; February 19, 2013:

NASHVILLE — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with The J.M. Smucker Company announced today the company’s decision to convert its existing Memphis production facility to a peanut butter manufacturing plant, resulting in the investment of $55.6 million by the company. Smucker expects to have a workforce of 125 employees in Memphis upon completion of the project in 2014.

“I want to thank Smucker for this investment in the Memphis community,” Haslam said. “With our Jobs4TN strategy, we have placed special emphasis on helping existing Tennessee businesses in their efforts to grow, and this announcement is another step toward our goal of becoming No. 1 in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“The J.M. Smucker Company has played a key role in the corporate landscape of Memphis since 1969, and we are happy to hear the company will refit its existing facility to meet its evolving needs in an ever-changing world economy,” Hagerty said. “As a renowned transportation and logistics hub, Memphis offers global companies like Smucker the ability to manufacture and distribute its products efficiently and effectively. We are pleased to know that Tennessee and its workforce will continue to play an important role in the company’s future plans and successes.”

“We considered a number of strategic alternatives for how best to support the long-term growth of our peanut butter business,” said Maribeth Badertscher, vice president of Corporate Communications for The J.M. Smucker Company. “By investing in Memphis, we can leverage our existing facilities, infrastructure and highly skilled workforce to operate a state-of-the-art peanut butter facility in support of our peanut butter brands.”

Smucker previously announced it would cease all operations of its existing fruit spreads manufacturing facility. The new operation, also located at 4740 Burbank Road, will be fitted with new equipment to produce peanut butter and include a rail spur and customized manufacturing lines.

Smucker is a leading marketer and manufacturer of fruit spreads, retail packaged coffee, peanut butter, shortening and oils, ice cream toppings, sweetened condensed milk, and health and natural foods beverages in North America.

“For more than a year the City, County, State and EDGE have been working with Smucker to find an alternative to closing the plant,” City of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. said. “We appreciate the company’s confidence in Memphis and the jobs, income and tax revenues that will now flow as a result of our collective effort.”

“Having a Fortune 500 firm with the reputation of Smucker recommit to our community is testimony not only to our strengths in manufacturing and distribution, but also to our tenacity in the face of adversity,” Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr. said. “We appreciate the company’s willingness to work with us to find a new life for its Memphis plant.”

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Tennessee Launches International Export Strategy, Foreign Offices

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; February 11, 2013: 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty today announced an international strategy focused on increasing the exports of Tennessee goods to key markets around the globe. Efforts will be led by ECD’s International Division with new Export Development Offices in Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany serving the entire European Union, and China. Today’s announcement marks the first time since 1997 that the state of Tennessee has had overseas offices solely dedicated to advancing Tennessee exports.

“Almost 20 percent of all Tennessee workers depend on the manufacture and sale of exported goods for their jobs,” Haslam said. “Tennessee-made goods are known the world over for their quality and dependability, and a new export strategy will continue to help us meet our goal of becoming the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“When facing an uncertain global economy, it is imperative that Tennessee businesses take steps to access both untapped markets and those exhibiting an increase in purchasing power due to fluctuating currency rates,” Hagerty said. “The state’s economy is more connected to the global economy than ever before, and we are excited to roll out new initiatives to help educate and open doors for Tennessee companies.”

During the last decade, Tennessee’s total export volume has more than tripled. More than 6,400 Tennessee businesses employing 80,000 workers sold nearly $30 billion worth of Tennessee products around the world in 2011 alone, ranking Tennessee the 14th largest exporting state in the U.S.

ECD’s export program TNTrade was announced in 2011, and two successful trade missions were led to Mexico with Tennessee automotive suppliers last July and another to China and South Korea with Tennessee medical device manufacturers and health care companies in April.

TNTrade will evolve to offer export assistance in key global markets, education and networking opportunities using resources provided by a Small Business Administration State Trade and Export Program grant. The coming year will focus on identifying and educating small and medium companies interested in exporting with an overall goal of increasing exports by 10 percent over the next three years.

“Tennessee is one of the foremost transportation hubs in the world, and this superiority in logistics gives our state an added and compelling advantage in the competition for global export markets,” Hagerty added.

Export Development Offices located in Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany and China will help Tennessee small- and medium-size businesses navigate the exporting process. A variety of free services will be offered including business intelligence, market analysis, sales and marketing planning, identification of distribution partners and service providers, and company matchmaking.

“Some of the greatest barriers to exporting are lack of knowledge and fear of the unknown,” Samar Ali, ECD assistant commissioner for International Affairs, said. “Our goal is to eliminate these uncertainties and make exporting less intimidating, while fostering an export culture throughout the state.”

The TNTrade Academy will also be established to flatten the export learning curve and compress the timeline leading to a successful export sale. As part of the Academy, a select group of businesses will be given a grant to complete Belmont University’s Global Business Professional Series that includes monthly luncheons with international business experts across the state, and a new web portal will be established featuring export education resources and announcements.

Top export markets for Tennessee include Canada, Mexico, China, Japan and the United Kingdom, while top export commodities include medical equipment and supplies, motor vehicle parts, basic chemicals, computer equipment, and resin and synthetic rubber.

In addition to export initiatives, the ECD International Division will proactively identify and recruit new foreign direct investment into the state. Four Investment Recruitment Offices have been established in Japan, Germany serving the entire European Union, Canada and the United Kingdom. Tennessee is home to 834 foreign-owned companies, investing $24 billion and employing almost 110,000 Tennesseans.

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Featured Tax and Budget

Lights, Camera, Spend: Tennesseans Boost Hollywood With Film Incentives

Did you enjoy ABC’s “Nashville” series? Good, because you’ll be paying for it to the tune of $8.5 million.

Millions of public dollars — in tax credits and, as of this year, via grants — have flowed into the state’s film incentive program to aid productions such as Larry the Cable Guy’s Christmas special, “Hannah Montana: The Movie” and promos for “Monday Night Football.”

In all, Tennessee is on track to fork over $22 million worth of handouts for Hollywood productions that are made in the state, a TNReport review of state records from 2008 to 2012 shows.

“This is one of the most insidious forms of corporate welfare out there,” Trey Moore, with the free-market think tank Beacon Center, said. “It’s hard to argue that this is a good deal for taxpayers.”

To put the amount in context: $22 million could pay for an additional 455 Nashville firefighters or five additional teachers in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties this year.

Tennessee film subsidies

Supporters of the state’s film incentive program say it boosts economic development, spurs job creation and is good marketing for Tennessee. The program is overseen by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Officials point to “Nashville,” ABC’s prime-time soap opera in which a 40-something country star must share the stage with a sassy young starlet.

“The program that’s had the most accolades is the recent film series ‘Nashville,’” Economic and Community Development commissioner Bill Hagerty said during a recent budget hearing.

Bill HagertyBill Hagerty

“The pilot was outstanding,” he said in November. “It still ranks number three in the ratings today, and we’re very optimistic that ‘Nashville’ is putting an important brand on the state and one that’s very positive for us.”

Over the past year, film incentives weren’t just teed up for the show “Nashville,” but to productions such as the faith-based drama “Unconditional,” and “Water for Elephants,” the circus-train romance/animal cruelty flick starring Reese Witherspoon.

Supporters of the incentives say that the program’s front-end money translates into economic benefits for the state, with “Nashville” alone bringing in $49.5 million in economic development. But for most of the program’s short history, the formulas for arriving at such numbers have been kept secret, and it’s still not clear exactly how the $49.5 million is estimated.

See all of the projects that have received public incentives from Tennessee here.

State officials say the program will be more transparent going forward. As of July 1, the state began administering all incentives as grants rather than tax credits — called “spurious” by one study.

There appear to be some benefits to this change, including greater transparency. Under former Gov. Phil Bredesen, who launched the incentive program, many of the presumed economic benefits were closed to the public. Benefits to film companies were in the form of tax credits, and a great deal of tax information in Tennessee is not public under state law.

But now, under Gov. Bill Haslam: “It is a more transparent process,” ECD spokesman Clint Brewer told TNReport. “The collapsing of the tax credit had several benefits, and that’s one of them. By and large everything we do in this department is an open record.”

It’s now easier for smaller and independent film productions to tap into the cash, too.

“The result is that we took a complicated, burdensome process that involved tax credits and a lot of paperwork and streamlined it significantly,” Brewer said.

But critics of the program doubt the benefits from the movies move the economic needle in Tennessee.

“This is just another example of corporate welfare,” said Moore, of the Beacon Center. “It’s rampant across the country when it comes to the film and movie industry, and, unfortunately, it’s hard to identify what’s really coming in the door.”

All these film incentives have Hollywood licking its chops: The Los Angeles-based Screen Actors Guild makes a web page available to all its members showing the film tax and grant benefits available in states across the U.S.

What of all those other states that have taxpayer-supported film incentive programs? Won’t jobs leave Tennessee and head there? Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Missouri all have robust film incentive programs. And Louisiana is the granddaddy of film incentives in the U.S. — second only to California and New York — garnering the nickname “Hollywood South.”

“If giving away money is a good way to create jobs when you’re not getting anything in return, I would have a hard time believing that,” Moore said. “It’s a notoriously fickle industry. There’s no guarantee that even once we give them this money that this is going to stick around.”

It’s not just the fiscal conservatives who question grants to film companies.
The left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities conducted a national study on film subsidies and found that “in the harsh light of reality, film subsidies offer little bang for the buck.”

The study found:

+ Subsidies reward companies for production that they might have done anyway. Some makers of movie and TV shows have close, long-standing relationships with particular states. Had those states not introduced or expanded film subsidies, most such producers would have continued to work in the state anyway. But there is no practical way for a state to limit subsidies only to productions that otherwise would not have happened.

+ The best jobs go to non-residents. The workforce at most sites outside of Los Angeles and New York City lacks the specialized skills producers need to shoot a film. Consequently, producers import scarce, highly paid talent from other states. Jobs for in-state residents tend to be spotty, part-time, and relatively low-paying work — hairdressing, security, carpentry, sanitation, moving, storage, and catering — that is unlikely to build the foundations of strong economic development in the long term.

+ Subsidies don’t pay for themselves. The revenue generated by economic activity induced by film subsidies falls far short of the subsidies’ direct costs to the state. To balance its budget, the state must therefore cut spending or raise revenues elsewhere, dampening the subsidies’ positive economic impact.

And while Tennessee officials boast that film subsidies can lead to good public relations for the state, some states’ programs have backfired in the PR department.

Louisiana recently received a black eye when consultants determined the program wasn’t getting the results officials said it was.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Louisiana, for instance, estimates that for every dollar it paid out in tax incentives for film projects over the last three years, it got back tax revenue of 24 cents. Still, the state’s analysis shows that film jobs in the state rose from about 900 in 2001 to about 5,000 now, so although the Big Easy’s state loses money on every job, it presumably hopes to make it up in volume.

Iowa’s film program was rocked by a scandal when prosecutors charged the state’s former film chief with various felonies, including official misconduct over his handling of state film tax credits.

Michigan was hit with some ironic bad press after reporters found that the state had coughed up more than $831,000 in tax dollars for “Capitalism: A Love Story,” Michael Moore’s movie that, in part, is critical of companies that accept corporate welfare.

Tennessee film subsidies by year

Under Haslam, the state has accelerated spending on film incentives, with more dollars thrown at moviemakers in 2012 than in 2009, 2010 and 2011 combined.

“As part of Governor Haslam’s Jobs4TN economic development plan, the entertainment industry was identified as one of the key industries in which the state has a clear competitive advantage,” Hagerty said in a statement last year after legislation was passed giving the film incentive program a $2 million boost.

At the same time, the brass behind the show “Nashville” is not so subtly indicating that if they don’t get additional incentives, they’ll pack up their Dobros and go home.

“The show’s backers are saying additional incentives — the extension of a heightened state reimbursement and other possibilities — will likely be needed to justify the cost of continued filming in Music City,” the Nashville Business Journal reported. “The fact that the show, which has seen ratings drop since its premiere before regaining some ground (in November), has been picked up means there will be a full season for backers to tout and public officials to weigh.”

Trent Seibert can be reached at trent@tnreport.com, on Twitter at @trentseibert or at 615-669-9501.