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Press Releases

Haslam Details Jobs Plan

State of Tennessee Press Release; April 20, 2011:

Jobs4TN Plan Includes Four Key Strategies; ECD to Reduce Staff by 35 percent

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner (ECD) Bill Hagerty today announced the Jobs4TN plan, which lays out the administration’s economic development strategy resulting from a top-to-bottom review of the department. The governor’s Jobs4TN plan focuses on:

– Prioritizing the strategic recruitment of target industries;

– Assisting existing Tennessee businesses in expansions and remaining competitive;

– Supporting regional and rural economic development strategies;

– As well as investing in innovation and reducing business regulation.

“My top priority is for Tennessee to be the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs,” Haslam said. “Our Jobs4TN plan is a blueprint for doing just that. By leveraging our existing assets in each region, we will be able to attract new businesses to the state while helping our existing businesses expand and remain competitive. We will also be making significant investments in innovation to position Tennessee as a national leader well into the future.”

The governor’s Jobs4TN plan was developed over a 45-day period and involved interviews with more than 300 stakeholders, community leaders, and national experts as well as through seven roundtables across the state. The plan includes four key strategies:

Prioritizing target clusters and existing industries: Tennessee will focus its recruitment efforts on six target clusters in which the state has a clear competitive advantage: automotive; chemicals and plastics; transportation, logistics and distribution services; business services; healthcare; advanced manufacturing and energy technologies.

In 2010 expansion of existing business accounted for nearly 86 percent of new jobs created in Tennessee. The state will focus on helping existing businesses expand and remain competitive through a targeted outreach program. A new “existing business toolkit” of incentives and resources will be created for Tennessee companies.

Establishing regional “jobs base camps” across the state: ECD will fundamentally restructure its field staff to establish a “jobs base camp” in each of nine regions across the state. Each base camp will work with local partners to develop and/or revise a regional economic develop plan and align existing federal and state resources around that plan. ECD will select regional directors to run each “jobs base camp” over the next 30 to 45 days.

A key function of these jobs base camps will be reaching out to rural counties to incorporate them into broader regional economic development strategies that leverage existing resources and maximize the assets of rural communities. A newly-created position of assistant commissioner of Rural Development will help lead this effort.

Investing in innovation: At the Tennessee Next Conference on May 5 in Nashville, Haslam will detail a major statewide innovation initiative focusing on better coordination of innovation activities across the state, increasing technology transfer and commercialization, promoting entrepreneurship and enhancing Tennessee companies’ access to early-stage capital.

Reducing business regulation: Haslam has asked ECD to lead a review of federal and state business regulations. Over the coming months, ECD will work with existing Tennessee businesses, business advocacy groups and state agencies to identify federal and state laws and regulations inhibiting job growth. After performing a cost-benefit analysis of regulations identified as burdensome, ECD will present recommendations to the governor and the state’s congressional delegation in Fall 2011.

To implement the plan, ECD will undergo a significant reorganization that will result in a new senior leadership team as well as a 35 percent reduction in staff.

“In an age of limited resources, Tennessee taxpayers want the state to focus on those activities that will result in a substantial return-on-investment,” said Hagerty. “ECD’s reorganization will align the department’s resources with the governor’s Jobs4TN plan while simultaneously eliminating functions that the state should no longer be performing.”

ECD is the first state agency to complete the top-to-bottom review process. Haslam has asked every agency in state government to complete a top-to-bottom review to examine each department’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Jobs4TN is another component of the governor’s comprehensive jobs plan to support and encourage investment of new business and existing business in Tennessee. His jobs plan also includes education reform initiatives that focus on children in the classroom and a well-educated, quality workforce in Tennessee, which is the most important long-term strategy for successful economic development.

Another piece of the plan is ensuring a business-friendly environment in Tennessee strengthened through less cumbersome rules and regulations on business along with tort reform to curb lawsuits and provide certainty around corporate legal issues. For more information on the Jobs4TN plan and the department’s top-to-bottom review, please visit www.tn.gov/ecd.

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Business and Economy Liberty and Justice News NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

Gabbing with the Guv

Following the swearing in of Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman on Tuesday, Gov. Bill Haslam fielded questions from reporters on a range of issues.

Among them were his views on the Legislature’s work in general this year, whether Tennessee should amend the state constitution to better accommodate the Tennessee Plan, the importance of prioritizing political goals, and his expectation that Bill Hagerty, commissioner of economic and community development, will stay on the job rather than leave for a presidential campaign by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Hagerty, a Vanderbilt University graduate and founder of Hagerty Peterson & Company merchant bank and private equity firm, served as national finance chairman for the Romney for President campaign in 2007-08. Romney’s Free and Strong America leadership PAC has been taking donations and writing checks. Romney currently leads a poll of potential Republican candidates in the key New Hampshire primary for 2012. The poll results were released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling.

Hagerty has a key role in the Haslam administration, given Haslam’s emphasis on jobs. With Romney looking like a presidential candidate, Haslam was asked Tuesday if he expected to hold onto his economic commissioner.

“Yes, I think we will. When Bill came, we talked about that, that he had obviously been very engaged with Gov. Romney’s last campaign,” Haslam said. “I said, ‘I need you to come and stay for a decent period of time,’ and he understands that. I don’t think there will be an issue. I think he’s committed to staying with us through that period.”

Haslam was asked to assess how the legislative session has gone thus far.

“This is obviously my first one, so it’s hard for me to be able to judge the ebb and flow of how things go,” he said. “But obviously I was really pleased that the tenure bill passed. We look forward to having our charter (schools) initiative addressed as well. Obviously, the budget is a key thing for us. Overall, we’re pleased with how the session is going.”

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has said he is interested in having language in the state constitution changed regarding the election of judges. The state currently operates under the Tennessee Plan, where judges face yes/no retention elections. Critics say the system defies the state constitution, which calls for the popular election of judges. The argument is that the retention elections are not true elections.

Haslam has said he favors the current system but seemed open to the idea of changing the constitution to put it in line with the Tennessee Plan.

“As I understand, what Ron is saying really is something that I have said as well. We need to make the constitution conform to what we’re doing,” Haslam said. “What I’ve heard Ron say is, ‘I’m not for electing judges, but I think the constitution should be clear and match what we do, so let’s bring that up and make sure the language matches what we’re doing.’ And I’m fine with that.”

The Legislature has seen a proposal, SB0620, die that would have established a nullification committee to review all federal laws for their constitutionality and have the the Legislature vote on the laws found by the committee to be unconstitutional. Another failed proposal is the “birther bill,” SB1043, which would have required candidates for president file sworn affidavits with information proving their residency — an attempt to address criticism in some quarters over how President Barack Obama has handled questions about his place of birth.

Haslam has shown no interest in such bills.

“Again, those are issues that we haven’t spent any time on because I don’t think they’re important things for the state to be addressing,” Haslam said. “Legislators can bring up what they want, and they will. I think the fact that neither of those went very far says most of the Legislature agrees that we have some other things we need to be worrying about.

“Ultimately, I think the big issues become the big issues, and they’re the ones that take most of the Legislature’s time debating.”

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Press Releases

Mitsubishi Electric Power Products to Build Transformers in Memphis

Press Release from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; Feb. 14, 2011:

NASHVILLE – Governor Bill Haslam and Commissioner Bill Hagerty of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development today joined with Brian Heery, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell to announce the company’s decision to invest $200 million to build a production facility for electric transformers in the Rivergate Industrial Park in Memphis, Tennessee, creating up to 275 new jobs. The new facility will produce extra-high voltage shell type power transformers and will be Mitsubishi’s national headquarters for the production of heavy electrical equipment. Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc is part of a business group owned by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation of Tokyo, Japan.

“I’m thankful that Mitsubishi Electric Power Products has chosen to make its investment in Tennessee as we work to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs,” said Governor Haslam. “Memphis has many unique advantages in its location and existing assets, and it is the right place for this project given Tennessee’s more than half century of innovation in the field of energy technology and our state’s longstanding economic and cultural ties to Japan.”

“Nationally, there is a debate around whether our nation’s aging power grid is adequate to meet the needs of a growing economy,” said Commissioner Hagerty. “Mitsubishi Electric’s Memphis facility will play an important role in making sure our energy infrastructure is efficient, reliable and globally competitive.”

Mitsubishi Electric Power Products’ President and CEO Brian Heery said Memphis was selected following a nationwide search.

“We needed a large, waterfront site near a city large enough to support our recruiting and training goals,” said Mr. Heery. “This will be a world-class facility capable of meeting our customers’ needs for quality, reliability and cost. We believe Memphis is the right place and we look forward to becoming active in the community.”

“Memphis’ ability to provide a skilled, trainable workforce, along with our clear logistics advantages were key to successfully landing this project,” said Mayor Wharton. “I’m proud the strong partnership between our community, the Greater Memphis Chamber and the state of Tennessee has resulted in new opportunity for our citizens.”

“We’ve seen strong momentum in Memphis and Shelby County in recent months in terms of job growth,” said Mayor Luttrell. “Some of the world’s most respected companies are looking closely at Shelby County for investment and expansion and that tells me our strong business climate is getting the attention of corporate decision makers.”

Mitsubishi Electric Power Products plans to build a 350,000 square foot facility on approximately 100 acres in the Rivergate Industrial Park. Construction is slated to begin in late spring 2011 with production starting in 2013. The site search was led by McCallum-Sweeney of Greenville, SC and O’Neal, Inc of Greenville, SC has been hired as the facility’s general contractor. The company will begin immediately looking for skilled engineers and factory workers with plans to open the facility with 90 employees, growing to 275 at full production. Mitsubishi Electric Power Products says most of the jobs at the facility to be filled locally and the company expects additional jobs to be created by the facility’s need for suppliers of machined and fabricated materials. Interested job applicants can learn more at Mitsubishi Electric’s web site, www.meppi.com by clicking on “careers.”

About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to create higher skilled, better paying jobs for all Tennesseans. 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 www.tn.gov/ecd or www.investtennessee.org.

About Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc.

Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. was incorporated in 1985 to supply products to electric utility companies in North America. Today, the company is headquartered in Warrendale, Pennsylvania with a national workforce of approximately 600 employees. During its past 25 years, the company has expanded into other markets including the transportation, water treatment, and power quality industries. While most of its products aren’t obvious to the general public, numerous sporting and entertainment venues feature the company’s world-famous Diamond Vision® large-display screens. In fact, the world’s largest high-definition video display is at Cowboys Stadium. Information on Mitsubishi Electric Power Products complete line of products and services can be found at www.meppi.com.

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Featured News Transparency and Elections

TN No Longer an Openness Leader on Financial Disclosures

Advocates for open government in Tennessee are expressing concern about whether Gov. Bill Haslam’s executive order relaxing income disclosure rules portends similar steps away from transparency, but there seems to be little out-and-out outrage over the governor’s move.

“The only thing that bothers me about the executive order is the tone that it sets and the signal that it might send,” said Frank Gibson, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government. “He’s not rolling back a law.”

Dick Williams, state chairman of Common Cause in Tennessee, had a similar reaction.

“I hope it’s not an indication of how we’re going to go from here, and I’d like to think it’s not,” Williams said. “But it’s just sad that his very first executive order, just a day or so after being sworn in, he takes a significant step backward.”

One fascinating aspect of the reaction, advocates for openness in government have said, is that the more demanding executive order that Phil Bredesen, Haslam’s predecessor, set as governor went largely unnoticed — until Haslam’s order loosened the requirements.

After being sworn in as the state’s 49th governor Jan. 15, Haslam’s first executive order was to declare that members of the executive branch must follow state law on disclosure, which brings the administration in line with the Legislature. The order means key administration officials including Cabinet members will have to divulge the sources of outside income but not the specific amounts they make. The step rolls back a Bredesen order, which called for disclosure of the amounts.

“Bredesen, to his credit, set a tone of openness by issuing that executive order in the first place,” Gibson said. “So I can’t slam him (Haslam) for doing it, because he’s basically doing what the law is for the Legislature.

“The thing that Bredesen did was far more disclosure than what Congress is required to do. Congress has to report the value of their investments in categories, from $50,000 to half a million dollars, and half a million dollars to a million, and a million to 5 million. So even members of Congress don’t have to report what their actual income is.”

Williams noted that the Haslam step presents a glaring change.

“It sticks out like a sore thumb at being a difference from what had been the precedent,” Williams said. “He (Haslam) is correct that the law doesn’t require it, but it’s kind of one of those things, once you’ve set the precedent, it’s definitely a step backward to not continue it.”

Haslam’s order caught the attention of the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, based in Washington, and its policy director, John Wonderlich, called the decision a “stunning disrespect for the role disclosure plays in democracy.”

“Governor Haslam’s executive order flouts the public trust embodied in that disclosure system, and places his personal and political concerns over the public interest and integrity of the very system he was elected to lead,” Wonderlich wrote.

A recurring refrain, however, is a call for a middle-of-the-road approach that would require ranges of income be reported, rather than none.

Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit research group, falls into that category.

“I guess my solution is a compromise, which is what we have in California and which I believe is recommended, which is ranges,” said Stern. “Over a thousand dollars. Over $10,000, over $100,000, over $1 million, and at that point who cares? You should have an idea.”

“We want to know what the conflict is and approximately if it’s a big conflict or a little conflict, but we don’t need to know the exact amount of the conflict,” added Stern, whose organization describes itself as promoting “innovative political and media solutions to help individuals participate more effectively in their communities and governments.”

Issue of Income Prominent in Gov’s Race

Common Cause’s Williams said the potential for conflict should be closely watched for department heads such as those in Economic and Community Development and Revenue, not because he has concerns specific to Haslam’s choices for those jobs but because of the nature of the positions.

Haslam named Bill Hagerty, founder and managing director of Hagerty Peterson & Co., a merchant bank and private equity firm, to the post of Economic and Community Development commissioner. Haslam picked Richard Roberts, director of Miller Industries, which makes towing and recovery vehicles, to head the Department of Revenue.

The issue of Haslam’s personal income rose prominently in the 2010 governor’s race, with opponents among Democrats and Republicans insisting that Haslam’s income from his family’s Pilot Corp. presented a conflict of interest. Ironically, one of Haslam’s harshest critics was his current commissioner of Safety, Bill Gibbons.

Gibbons ran against Haslam for the Republican nomination. He dropped out early but not before he proposed a plan for openness in government.

Gibbons, previously the Shelby County district attorney general, hit Haslam hard on the issue during the campaign and said every time the state widens a highway with a lot of commercial traffic Pilot has an interest with its truck stops. He said voters couldn’t know if it was a big conflict or a small conflict because Haslam would not reveal his income from Pilot. Haslam did divulge his income from investments outside Pilot Corp.

Haslam has also announced a blind trust for his holdings, but the trust will not include Pilot holdings or a real estate investment he has outside the state.

Among candidate Gibbons’ detailed plans for openness was a strengthening of disclosure laws by moving beyond the requirement of candidates and officeholders to disclose only the sources of income and require reporting of the amount of income from each source.

An effort to reach Gibbons this week for comment on Haslam’s executive order was unsuccessful.

Haslam consistently refused during the campaign to divulge the amount of his income from Pilot, as first requested by a consortium of the state’s largest newspapers. He reasoned that Tennesseans knew that his family owned Pilot and therefore knew all they needed to know. He has now extended that same principle to other members of his administration, and Haslam used the same consistent line of explanation when he addressed the executive order in a recent press conference as governor.

Deputy Gov. Claude Ramsey reiterated the explanation Haslam has given going back to the campaign.

“To the best of my knowledge the executive order was a follow-up to what he said all over this state to the people of Tennessee,” Ramsey said. “I don’t think the executive order was one period, one comma, different from what he had said for months.”

Haslam Order In Line With Other States’ Rules

Ramsey said to his knowledge there was no survey of what is done in other states to influence the decision.

There is little to suggest Haslam’s order is out of line with other states, although that doesn’t translate into a sparkling record on public disclosure.

The Center for Public Integrity, a journalistic research organization in Washington that promotes improving government openness and accountability, issued a report in 2009 in which Tennessee was among 20 states given a grade of “F” for its disclosure laws. Tennessee was given 57.5 points out of a possible 100, ranking 34th among the 50 states. Only Louisiana, Washington and Hawaii received a grade of “A.”

The report was an update to a report by the Center for Public Integrity issued in 2007. Tennessee received an “F” in that report as well.

Like all the surveys reviewed by TNReport, though, the center’s study focused on laws, not executive orders by governors.

Charts compiled by the Center for Ethics in Government for the National Conference of State Legislatures show a broad range of requirements on disclosure, with several states requiring reporting based on ranges of income.

The Center for Ethics in Government does not summarize its findings like the Center for Public Integrity, but Peggy Kerns, director of the ethics center, said, “I would think that most states do not require disclosure of the actual amount of income, just the source.”

Stern, the Los Angeles researcher, said he believes the work done by the Center for Public Integrity is a good measuring stick and that there has been “not much change at all” since the report was released.

The written report in 2007 did address more closely how state requirements affect governors than the more recent report.

“Requiring them to disclose their private financial ties could reveal possible conflicts of interest,” the 2007 report said. Only Washington received a grade of “A” in that report.

The 2007 study made specific mention that Bredesen, who was wealthy before his election, did not take a paycheck as governor, which put him in the company of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California. Then-Gov. Jon Corzine of New Jersey drew a salary of $1 a year, the report noted. Haslam, like Bredesen, is not accepting a paycheck from the state.

The 2009 report noted that two southern states — Louisiana and Mississippi — made the biggest improvements since the earlier study, and it pointed to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal pushing through an ethics reform package that bolstered requirements for all lawmakers to report their financial interests. That action, the report said, led Louisiana to the top spot in its rankings, with 94.5 points out of 100 in the center’s 43-question survey.

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Press Releases

National GOP Political Operative, Equity Firm Founder Named to Run TNECD

Press Release from Gov.-Elect Bill Haslam, Jan. 9, 2011:

Hagerty Committed to Haslam’s Goal of Making State No. 1 Location for High Quality Jobs

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Haslam today announced Nashville business executive Bill Hagerty as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Hagerty has extensive business experience and brings a depth and breadth of knowledge to business recruitment in Tennessee that is critical to Gov.-elect Haslam’s goal of making the state the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.

“Having someone of Bill Hagerty’s caliber at the helm of Economic and Community Development is a tremendous advantage for Tennessee,” Haslam said. “Our state has some unique opportunities, and his experience will help us take advantage of them. I am extremely pleased that he will be a member of our team.”

Hagerty was a founder and managing director of Hagerty Peterson & Company, LLC, a merchant bank and private equity firm.

Before founding Hagerty Peterson, he worked with Trident Capital, L.P., a private equity investment firm headquartered in Silicon Valley, and with the Boston Consulting Group, an international management consultancy. Hagerty has served in a number of executive positions during his career including CFO, COO and CEO of both U.S. and international companies.

Hagerty worked on the White House Domestic Policy staff during the George W. Bush Administration as a member of the President’s Council on Competitiveness. He also served as a National Finance Chairman for Romney for President in 2007-2008.

“I’m honored that Gov.-elect Haslam has asked to me to serve Tennesseans, and I look forward to the opportunity to support Bill Haslam’s mandate to grow and create jobs in this great state,” Hagerty said. “Gov.-elect Haslam is a terrific leader. He is assembling a spectacular Cabinet and staff, and I am both excited and humbled to join his experienced team.”

Hagerty is married to Chrissy, and they have four children. They attend St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nashville.