Press Releases

State ECD Chief Touts Main Street Christmas Events

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; November 20, 2012:

NASHVILLE – The holiday season is in full swing on Tennessee’s Main Streets, and there are plenty of special activities for everyone — from the young to the young at heart. Tennessee Main Street holiday events support the historic downtown districts of communities all across the state and encourage shopping locally.

“A thriving downtown district where citizens support small businesses and spend time together is a significant driver of economic development that contributes to the overall quality of life in our communities,” Bill Hagerty, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, said. “Celebrating the holiday season in your own community is not only a rewarding way to connect with your historic downtown district, but it can also be a substantial catalyst for the local economy.”

Saturday, Nov. 24, is the perfect time to kick off holiday shopping with Small Business Saturday®, a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities. Join the U.S. Small Business Administration and organizations across the country by shopping at a local small business in your town. For more information on Small Business Saturday, visit

“The holiday season is always an exciting time for Main Street communities all across the state,” Kimberly Nyberg, ECD Tennessee Main Street director, said. “I encourage you to visit your historic downtown district this holiday season and show your support for local businesses and entrepreneurs in your area.”

Main Street revitalization is a comprehensive, incremental, self-help economic strategy that also focuses on developing public-private partnerships to enhance community livability and job creation, while maintaining the historic character of the district.

Tennessee’s Main Street program provides communities with technical assistance and guidance in developing long-term strategies that promote economic growth and development. The program provides information and assistance in forging public networking and training opportunities for downtown commercial districts.

For a listing of Tennessee Main Street holiday events, please visit

Press Releases

Hagerty Takes Leave to Campaign for Romney

Press release from the Department of Economic & Community Development; Sept. 10, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Bill Hagerty will take a temporary leave of absence to volunteer as a member of the Romney/Ryan presidential readiness team in Washington, D.C.

Hagerty’s unpaid leave will run from Monday, September 17 through Tuesday, November 6. Despite the scheduled time away, he will be in Nashville October 18 and 19 to oversee the Governor’s Conference on Economic and Community Development.

The presidential readiness team is led by former Gov. Mike Leavitt of Utah. Hagerty served in a similar role for the 2008 presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

“Bill’s background makes him a logical choice to serve in this role,” Haslam said. “He will do a great job.”

Deputy to the Governor Claude Ramsey will assume oversight of the department during Hagerty’s leave of absence.

“Creating and growing Tennessee jobs is a top priority for our administration, and I appreciate Claude for his willingness to serve in this capacity in the upcoming weeks,” Haslam continued. “His experience will be an asset to the department as we continue to focus on new jobs in Tennessee.”

Hagerty will return to the department on Wednesday, November 7.

Business and Economy Featured News NewsTracker

GOP Lawmakers Lament Feds’ Regs

The path to boosting job growth in Tennessee is obstructed by federal regulations, a handful of state and federal GOP lawmakers told members of Congress at a field hearing in Murfreesboro Monday.

State officials are paving the way for job growth at the state level, but there’s nothing more they can do when the federal government issues piles of regulations that discourage economic development, Commissioner Bill Hagerty told the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“Many companies told us through a regulatory review that the regulations have become so unduly burdensome that they have very great concern about their ability to expand and grow,” Hagerty told the committee at Middle Tennessee State University Monday, adding he has faith that Tennessee’s “great entrepreneurial spirit” could still lead to job expansions.

Last summer, Hagerty and Gov. Bill Haslam toured the state to learn what issues business owners and executives have operating in Tennessee, repeatedly reporting that companies were intimidated by regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, and most recently, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The governor and Hagerty were joined by Tennessee’s two U.S. Senators — Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker — and Middle Tennessee Congressman Scott DesJarlais and Congresswomen Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn.

Here is unedited video of the GOP press conference following the hearing:

Business and Economy NewsTracker

Tennessee Seeking to Bolster Business Ties with China, South Korea

A trade mission to China and South Korea, underway this week by state economic development officials and nearly a dozen health care-related companies in Tennessee, looks to build on the state’s already productive trade relationships with east Asian countries.

Through the mission, which will be led by Bill Hagerty, commissioner for the Department of Economic and Community Development, the state intends to help increase exports by small- and mid-level businesses in Tennessee.

The participants will attend business meetings arranged by the U.S. Commercial Service, a component of the Department of Commerce, as well as an exhibition of health care-related products and services in the Asia-Pacific Region, the China International Medical Equipment Fair.

“Last year, Tennessee exported roughly $30 billion dollars in goods; however, fewer than two percent of all Tennessee companies are exporters,” Hagerty said in a press release released in late January by ECD. “This trade mission will allow participants to be introduced to potential distributors and customers in the rapidly growing Asian market and explore new sources of revenue.”

The state already enjoys a good trade relationship with Japan, considering that the Land of the Rising Sun has invested around $15 billion in Tennessee over the years, Gov. Bill Haslam said at the opening of a VICAM plant in Manchester in early March. The Japanese company recycles plastics to make automobile upholstery and carpet.

A press release from ECD details the companies participating in the trade mission to eastern Asia:

The companies participating in the trade mission are:

  • ABT Molecular Imaging, Knoxville, a molecular imaging company and manufacturer of the “Dose on Demand” Biomarker Generator which provides researchers and clinicians access to PET biomarkers on demand.
  • Christie Medical Holdings, Memphis, is the developer of the revolutionary VeinViewer imaging system, designed to see a patient’s veins through their skin for assistance in IV placement and blood draws.
  • Dream Systems, Nashville, develops and implements telehealth solutions for local, regional, national and international healthcare organizations.
  • E-Spin Technologies, Chattanooga, a global leader in nanofiber manufacturing and nanofiber-based air filtration products providing cleaner air for healthcare, commercial, industrial and residential markets.
  • Fillauer, Chattanooga, a leading manufacturer and distributor of orthotic and prosthetic products both domestically and internationally.
  • Gryphus Diagnostics, Knoxville, develops and manufactures products primarily for women’s health, including in vitro diagnostics tests for the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis.
  • Hollywog, Chattanooga, is the developer of WiTouch™, the first wireless remote controlled pain relief device incorporating TENS technology to specifically target back pain.
  • iScreen Vision, Cordova, provides fast, easy, and portable pediatric vision-screening equipment and analysis for infants, pre-school children and school-age children.
  • Silicone Arts Laboratories, Memphis, combines Hollywood special effects and plastic surgery techniques to manufacture scar and wrinkle concealment products called Dermaflage.
  • Stinger Medical, Murfreesboro, manufactures cordless mobile workstations used by nurses at the bedside for patient documentation and medication administration, and Mobius Power®, a swappable battery system that keeps mobile carts powered 24/7.
  • VenX Medical, Nashville, is the developer of a disposable, hand actuated proprietary device for the treatment of small- and medium-sized veins.
Press Releases

Memphis Chamber CEO Hails Region’s ‘Record-Breaking Year for Economic Development, Growth’

Press Release from the Memphis Chamber of Commerce, March 30, 2012:

Gallup Job Creation Index shows Memphis MSA 38% Increase in Hiring – Chamber-led efforts assist

In a survey released by Gallup on Thursday, March 29, Memphis, Tennessee, was ranked in the top three for most hiring in 2011 amongst the Top 50 Largest MSAs in the United States. According to the Gallup Job Creation Index, the San Antonio, Texas, Houston, Texas and Memphis, Tenn., metro areas reported the most hiring. Memphis employers increased hiring by 38%.

In 2011, the Greater Memphis Chamber Economic Development Team, including Memphis Light, Gas & Water, the City of Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee Valley Authority and the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development, secured over $1.1 Billion Dollars in new capital investment commitments and the commitment of 3700 new jobs in Memphis and Shelby County. Earlier this week, The Brookings Institute, ranked Memphis MSA 3rd in the United States during the 4th quarter of 2011 for job growth.

“2011 was a record-breaking year for economic development and growth in Memphis and Shelby County,” said John W. Moore, President & CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber. “We are building on this momentum with more than 30 projects in the pipeline. The chamber and its partners are dedicated to keeping Memphis and Shelby County in the forefront for creating jobs and growing our economy.“

“We are very proud of the recognition we have received in Memphis for new job growth,” said Ted Townsend, Regional Director of Greater Memphis for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. “Thanks to Governor Bill Haslam and Commissioner Bill Hagerty, we’ve been rebuilding our program and enhancing the incentives to both relocating and existing companies.”

To see the complete Gallup Job Creation Index, please visit:

To read the New York Times blog post which states that “the cities with the highest proportion of employers hiring were San Antonio and Memphis.”

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.

Business and Economy Featured News NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

House OKs Expansion of Business Grants

The Tennessee House of Representatives unanimously endorsed Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to dramatically expand economic development grants Wednesday. But lawmakers are still uncertain if and how they’ll publicly identify the owners behind companies taking home those taxpayer dollars.

Department of Economic Development officials and legislative leaders are shy on details about out how they’ll require private businesses seeking state grants to reveal who owns their companies without scaring away organizations looking to open up shop in Tennessee.

“This is necessary information for the ECD to make good decisions, so we need to figure out a way to get this information. That’s why we keep pounding at it,” said the Senate sponsor of the bill, Bo Watson, a Republican from Hixon.

Lawmakers voted 96-0 to expand the state’s taxpayer-funded FastTrack development grant program to the tune of $80 million Wednesday, $10 million more than original estimates.

HB2344 would offer businesses grants or loans for expenses like “retrofitting, relocating equipment, purchasing equipment, building repairs and improvements, temporary office space or other temporary equipment related to relocation or expansion.”

All money would be funneled through local governments or their economic development branches to issue to companies. The FastTrack program already offers grants in the form of reimbursements for job training and infrastructure improvement, at a state tax-funded cost of about $38.5 million annually in recent years.

With the expansion, the Haslam administration wants to more thoroughly examine businesses seeking grants by requiring businesses to hand over internal records like cash flow reports and budgets, along with the names of the companies’ owners.

Lawmakers from both parties are OK with shielding most of that information from public view, saying it’s proprietary. Many are arguing, however, that the names of people who own companies accepting state money should be out in the open.

“Taxpayers have a right to know where that money’s being spent. I just think that’s a no-brainer,” said House Democratic Caucus Leader Mike Turner. “It makes you wonder who they’re trying to attract to come in here.”

The measure to add those reporting requirements but keep them private, HB2345, has idled on Capitol Hill since legislative leaders last month said business ownership shouldn’t be kept secret. Lawmakers have since remained silent on the progress of negotiations.

“Commissioner (Bill) Hagerty and the department’s legislative team continue to have productive conversations with leadership about the bill,” ECD spokesman Clint Brewer said in an emailed statement.

The Senate versions of both the expansion to the program and its reporting requirements are in committee.

Business and Economy News Transparency and Elections

Ownership Information Still a Sticking Point in ECD Transparency Bill

Tennessee lawmakers spent nearly an hour during a committee budget hearing last week praising the state’s business development agency for refocusing on homegrown companies.

But no one acknowledged the department’s ongoing disagreement with the Legislature: The Department of Economic and Community Development wants to collect the names of owners behind companies applying for millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded business grants — but the agency doesn’t want to share the information with the public.

The move is drawing criticism from legislators who say there needs to be less secrecy in government, not more. Supporters of the Haslam administration-backed bill argue all they are trying to do is add more oversight and scrutiny to the state’s system of  handing out subsidies than what has been in place under past administrations — or what’s currently in place in other states.

In fact, no other state asks for the names of business owners, the department told The Associated Press, but ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty told lawmakers in a House Finance Committee budget hearing Thursday the state is so far fairing well against its neighbors in attracting business investors.

“I think we’re certainly exceeding the pace of states near by us and that we’ll be able to stay ahead of the curve and catch these opportunities as they come,” Hagerty said about attracting business investors.

The Haslam administration’s “due diligence” bill in the Legislature, SB2207, should be expanded to reveal the identities of company owners after they’ve won taxpayer-funded business incentives such as FastTrack development dollars, high-ranking GOP legislators like Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey are suggesting.

“If a product makes it to the floor and passes, there will be transparency. I think we’re dedicated to that,” Ramsey told reporters in his Capitol Hill office Thursday. He said there’s agreement among Senate Republican leaders that the commerce committee should “work on this some more because this is not a product that we want to pass in the state Senate.”

The state currently doesn’t ask, or officially know, who the businesspeople are behind the companies to which it issues grants.

“Presently, we can’t ask companies for these material as they would be subject to the open records laws,” said Clint Brewer, ECD spokesman. “Furthermore, companies will not offer them.”

The administration maintains that its purpose is simply to improve the grant-application and subsidy-awards process the Bredesen administration left behind, but without driving away companies that, with strategic taxpayer-financed investment, might bring long-term jobs to Tennessee.

Requiring company ownership information became the sticking-point last week when Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, denounced the bill as a vehicle for cronyism. The House’s assistant Republican leader, Kevin Brooks of Cleveland, has argued the “cloaking or the secrecy question about the bill is a little bit of a misnomer.”

The bill is sponsored by the GOP’s majority leaders in both chambers — Collierville Sen. Mark Norris and Chattanooga Rep. Gerald McCormick.

Lawmakers say they’ve agreed that a bill the General Assembly passes shouldn’t protect company ownership from public view. However, other proposed edits to the legislation range from not collecting ownership information at all to collecting and making public all owners if the company is an LLC, private corporation or general or limited partnership, and all shareholders with more than $10,000 in securities.

The bill works in conjunction expanding the FastTrack program to $70 million from a current annual average of $38.5 million in awards.

SB2208 would allow FastTrack economic development grants to be used for activities that “include but are not limited to, grants or loans for retrofitting, relocating equipment, purchasing equipment, building repairs and improvements, temporary office space or other temporary equipment related to relocation or expansion.”

The full House plans to vote on the bill Thursday, Mar. 1. The Senate sent its version of the bill back to the Commerce, Labor and Agriculture Committee for more work this week.

Press Releases

Steel Manufacturer Nucor to Upgrade Memphis Plant

Press Release from the State of Tennessee, Feb. 17, 2012:

NASHVILLE– Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, along with Shelby County officials and Nucor representatives, today announced the company’s plans for modernizing and enhancing its Memphis facility, located at 3601 Paul R. Lowry Road. The company will create approximately 27 new jobs.

“Our Jobs4TN strategy focuses on existing Tennessee businesses, and Nucor’s latest investment in our state will add good paying jobs in Shelby County,” Haslam said. “Tennessee’s economy continues to improve thanks in large part to our existing industries that choose to reinvest right where they are.”

“Nucor is a standout leader in U.S. industry,” Hagerty said. “Led by Chairman, CEO and President Dan DiMicco, Nucor’s success underscores the strength and ingenuity that this management team has brought to bear on the steel industry. The company is the largest manufacturer of steel products in North America, and Tennessee is fortunate to have Nucor expanding its operations here. I extend my heartiest congratulations and look forward to continued mutual prosperity.”

Nucor is the leading U.S. producer of structural steel, steel bars, steel reinforcing bars, steel joist and girders and steel decks. The company is also North America’s largest recycler. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Nucor consists of approximately 200 operating facilities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Nucor will add equipment to its Memphis facility to further diversify its bar steel manufacturing capabilities. The new equipment will allow the company to roll a broader range of bar steel products.

“We are excited to be investing in our Memphis mill in order to serve a growing segment of our bar mill business,” Mike Gurley, vice president and general manager, Nucor Steel Memphis, said. “We believe the engineered bar markets will continue to be strong into the future, driven by energy, automotive, heavy truck and heavy equipment manufacturers. This investment in our Memphis mill will position Nucor to meet the growing demands of our engineered bar customers.”

“Like most cities, we love to be able to announce new companies coming to town. But when Nucor announced in 2006 that it would invest $225 million at Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park – at the time the home of the defunct Birmingham Steel plant – it was the beginning of a new era,” A C Wharton, Jr., Memphis mayor, said. “Since then, we’ve considered them an important neighbor and asset to this community. To watch them continue to grow and succeed, right here in our own backyard, is beyond gratifying.”

“Nucor is a vital industry in Shelby County’s business community,” Mark H. Luttrell, Jr., Shelby County mayor, said. “We are pleased company officials have decided to expand their operations here. This is yet another example of a company choosing to invest their resources locally which will help strengthen our economy.”

“Nucor’s substantial investment will increase the competitiveness of its Memphis facility, positioning the plant for future growth while helping protect existing jobs,”Reid Dulberger, president and CEO, Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE), said. “EDGE is pleased to partner with ECD to assist with this process and looks forward to working with Nucor on additional projects to expand its Memphis facility.”

Press Releases

Medical Device Developer Announces Expansion Plans in Shelby County

Press Release from the State of Tennessee, January 11, 2012:

Medical Device Manufacturer to Invest $4.8 Million, Create 40 New Jobs Over Five Years

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty today joined with officials from Shelby County to announce the decision by Launch Medical to expand in Bartlett, Tenn. The company will invest $4.8 million to fit out an existing building on Wolf Lake Road in Bartlett, creating 40 jobs during a five-year period to manufacture medical device prototypes.

“I’m pleased these technically-focused, good paying jobs are being created right here in our state,” Haslam said. “Launch Medical is helping us on our way to making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“We have an exceptional business climate in Tennessee, and existing industries continue to be one of our most valuable assets and effective champions for our state,” Hagerty said. “I appreciate Launch Medical’s continued and growing investment and the additional jobs that will be created for Tennesseans.”

Launch Medical is a medical device product development firm focused on assisting surgeon inventors to develop their ideas into marketable products. Founded in 2007, the company began as a medical device incubator, offering unique opportunities for surgeon inventors to develop new ideas for medical devices. In 2010, Launch Medical shifted from product development to the manufacturing market and partnered with Elite Medical to move forward as a strategic alliance to manufacture and distribute medical implants and instrumentation.

“Bartlett has been the perfect fit for our company,” Gary Stavrum, president, Launch Medical, said. “We thank state and local officials for making this expansion a reality and look forward to continual success in Shelby County.”

“This expansion is a testament to the growth this community is experiencing in the medical device industry,” Clay Banks, director of Economic Development, Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce, said. “Over the past decade, Northeast Shelby County has emerged as Tennessee’s ‘Life Science Corridor’ and one of North America’s leading centers for innovation in medical device technology.”

“Launch Medical’s expansion is great to see in this economy,” said Tracy Speake, managing partner, Paradigm Realty Advisors, LLC, whose company represented Launch Medical. “It’s a testament to the economic development professionals in Bartlett, Shelby County and the state of Tennessee.”

About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. The department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. To find out more, go



Press Releases

Haslam Administration’s New ‘Regulatory Reform Report’ Focuses on ‘Streamlining and Modernizing’

Press Release from the State of Tennessee, Jan. 6, 2012:

Federal and State Regulations Reviewed for Potential Negative Impact on Businesses

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty today released the Regulatory Reform Report, an ECD-led review of federal and state rules and regulations impacting businesses. One of the key strategies of the governor’s Jobs4TN economic development plan was to conduct this review with the goal of identifying obstacles to investment.

“To reach our goal of becoming the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs, we must always be focused on strengthening our attractive business climate to attract and grow Tennessee jobs,” Haslam said. “This regulatory review process was important to identify areas for improvement both through internal and external evaluations.”

In conducting the review, ECD surveyed Tennessee business leaders, advocacy groups and state departments to identify federal and state laws, regulations and processes that could have a negative impact on economic development and job creation in the state.

“I want to thank those who gave of their time and participated in the regulatory review process, including Tennessee businesses, local stakeholders and our fellow state government departments. Their cooperation and feedback were essential to producing the Regulatory Reform Report,” Hagerty said. “Identifying areas where there are opportunities for improvement is the first step in streamlining and modernizing our regulatory environment and better serving the people and businesses of our state.”

The report suggests a number of recommendations, which include:

  • Implementation of an assessment process for all regulations prior to being finalized.
  • Improved customer service by regulatory enforcement entities in working with constituents on regulatory compliance and clearly communicating inspector expectations.
  • Strengthening the culture of customer service throughout state government by employee training and accountability measures.
  • Working with each state department to eliminate or modify redundant or cumbersome regulations identified through the review process.
  • Conducting an annual survey of businesses to track problematic federal regulations.
  • Reviewing procedures and processes performed by multiple departments to assess opportunities for streamlining them.
  • Continuing ongoing dialogue with businesses about issues of concern such as workers’ compensation and unemployment laws.
  • Requiring every department that enforces regulations to create uniform regulatory guidance, where applicable, in order to promote certainty, consistency and oversight within the process.
  • Developing an interactive, “one stop” website that allows constituents to easily find regulatory information with appropriate departments, boards or commissions posting relevant notices and information on the site.
  • Assessment of the necessity and function of state boards and commissions.

The regulatory review process involved three steps: a broad survey of businesses, a series of statewide roundtable discussions and regulatory self-evaluations by each department of state government.

More than 150 surveys were completed and compiled, and then used as a framework for a series of roundtables involving nearly 200 businesses statewide. Details on survey findings and notes from the roundtables are found in the report.

Each department within state government was also asked to evaluate regulations within their jurisdiction that could be streamlined, eliminated or deemed burdensome to business. Many departments are already going through this process as part of their top-to-bottom reviews.

The complete Regulatory Review Report can be found at

About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. The department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. To find out more, go to