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Press Releases

Haslam: Tyson Foods Expanding Goodlettsville Operations

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; May 20, 2014:

Food Processor to Invest $15.5 Million, Create 157 New Jobs

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with Tyson Foods, Inc. officials today announced the food processor will invest $15.5 million to expand its current operations in Goodlettsville and hire and train 157 new workers.

“I want to thank Tyson Foods for investing in our state and creating these high quality jobs for Middle Tennessee,” Haslam said. “When well-established companies like Tyson Foods choose to expand and reinvest in our state, it sends a strong message that Tennessee is one of the best places to do business and supports our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“One of the reasons why Tennessee remains competitive when it comes to job creation is our emphasis on supporting incumbent industries’ sustained growth. Incumbent industry is the lifeblood of Tennessee’s economy,” Hagerty said. “Tyson Foods already employs a significant amount of Tennesseans at its facilities in our state, and I appreciate their continued support and investment.”

Tyson Foods will invest $15.5 million to add four production lines and expand cold storage capabilities at its Tyson Fresh Meats facility at 201 Cartwright Dr. in Goodlettsville. The nation’s second-largest food processor produces case-ready beef and pork products for grocery stores and other retailers at the plant, which already employs roughly 1,600 workers.

“We’re very appreciative to the state of Tennessee and our local partners for their support on this expansion, which will help us build up our capabilities locally,” Jeff Rowen, Goodlettsville complex manager for Tyson Fresh Meats, said. “We are continuing to grow our business and adding these lines will help us better meet the needs of our customers.”

“Having called Goodlettsville home for several years now, it is great to see Tyson’s proven success by this expansion,” Goodlettsville City Manager Tim Ellis said. “They are definitely a cornerstone of our city’s industrial success.”

Work has already begun to install the new equipment. Hiring is expected to begin in June for the newly created production jobs, all of which are full-time. Applications for employment should be filed with a Tennessee Workforce Development office.

Tyson Foods and its subsidiaries employ more than 4,300 Tennesseans at company facilities in Goodlettsville, Shelbyville and Union City. They also support roughly 335 Tennessee farmers who raise chickens for the company’s poultry operations or supply the beef and pork operations with cattle and hogs.

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Press Releases

Finney Calls for Review of Job Tax Credits Program

Press release from the Office of State Sen. Lowe Finney, D-Jackson; November 18, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Troubled by a recent audit that found state government can’t say whether companies are creating jobs in exchange for tax credits they’ve received, state Sen. Lowe Finney requested a review of state contracts to be presented during the 2014 legislative session.

“I brought ‘claw back’ legislation to protect taxpayers if promises of new jobs for tax credits are broken,” state Sen. Lowe Finney said. “According to this audit, the administration wouldn’t know when to ‘claw back’ taxpayers’ money.”

Sen. Finney sponsored SB 0605 during the last legislative session, which directs the Department of Economic and Community Development to include “claw back” provisions in all contracts to ensure the state has the authority to take back any incentives awarded to companies that don’t create jobs.

A recent audit by the comptroller’s office found that the Department of Revenue “could not provide evidence that companies audited complied with state law” for tax credits awarded to the 27 companies audited between Jan. 1, 2010 and June 30, 2012.

In a letter to Department of Revenue Commissioner Richard Roberts, Sen. Finney requested a thorough review of those contracts and the jobs created to be presented to the Senate Finance Committee during the 2014 legislative session.

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Press Releases

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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Press Releases

TN Ranks No. 1 Nationally in Automotive Manufacturing 4th Year in a Row

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; July 26, 2013:

NASHVILLE—Business Facilities, a national economic development publication, has released its annual state Automotive Manufacturing Strength ranking. For an unprecedented fourth consecutive year, Tennessee has been named the No. 1 state in the nation for Automotive Manufacturing Strength.

“This impressive distinction further solidifies Tennessee’s position as a global leader in automotive manufacturing strength,” Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty said. “When internationally renowned companies like General Motors, Magneti Marelli, Nissan and Volkswagen choose to relocate and expand in our state, it extends Tennessee’s place at the top beyond the U.S. and into today’s globally competitive environment. I could not be more pleased to hear this great news.”“With VW intent on selling at least 1 million vehicles in the North American market, its new Chattanooga plant is ramping up to full production,” Business Facilities Editor in Chief Jack Rogers said. “Renewed commitments from GM, Nissan’s electric-car line scaling up in Smyrna and a growing supplier network have kept Tennessee in a commanding position in our automotive strength evaluation.”

Tennessee is home to Nissan, Volkswagen and General Motors production hubs. With more than 900 auto manufacturers and suppliers statewide, Tennessee is reaping the benefits of a strategic focus on the automotive sector. In fiscal year 2012-2013, 44 automotive projects created 6,662 new jobs in Tennessee and investments totaled close to $1.1 billion.

In June, Nissan celebrated 30 years of manufacturing at its Smyrna plant by adding more than 900 jobs to support future production of the Nissan Rogue. Nissan’s announcement marks the first time the Rogue will be produced in the U.S.

Also in June, top global automotive systems and components supplier Magneti Marelli inaugurated its new U.S. automotive lighting plant in Pulaski, Tenn. The plant represented a $53.7 million investment and the creation of 800 new jobs.

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Business and Economy NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

GOP Tops Talk of ECD Confidentiality Balancing Act

Republican leaders on Capitol Hill say they’re still working out the details of a stalled piece of legislation that would keep secret certain information collected from businesses seeking millions in tax incentives from the state.

The Haslam administration-backed bill, SB2207, would expand the amount of due diligence information – such as corporate financial statements and ownership information – the state receives, but also keep that information confidential.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told reporters Thursday that the lingering issue is mitigating the concerns of open-government advocates as well as business interests.

“Where is that balance?” he said. “That sweet spot, to make sure that we get the information that we’re supposed to get and need to get and should get – and some of it should be confidential, because of proprietary information – yet what should not have to be confidential.”

“This is all up in the air, right now, is the bottom line,” he added.

House Speaker Beth Harwell said her chamber will take action on the bill next week, likely after the Senate. Like Ramsey, she said the issue is finding balance.

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Business and Economy Featured News Tax and Budget Transparency and Elections

House Democrats Conflicted on ECD Transparency Bill

Gov. Bill Haslam wants to strengthen the Economic and Community Development department’s ability to scrutinize government grant applicants. But he’s lately run into opposition from critics who said the process isn’t transparent enough.

On the other hand, two ranking House Democrats are uncertain any kind of departure from the status quo is needed.

“I’m having trouble figuring out what they’re trying to accomplish,” Craig Fitzhugh, the House minority leader, said of the administration’s legislative push.

“We’ve been very successful in what we’re doing, and I want us to continue to be even more successful, so it bears another look over,” added Fitzhugh, a lawyer and banker from Ripley. “This is a very, very competitive market for existing and new businesses, so I want to make sure we don’t have some unintended consequences of what they’re trying to do.”

Former Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, of Covington, says he needs to consult with former Gov. Phil Bredesen and his Democratic administration’s ECD commissioner, Matt Kisber, before making up his mind where he stands on the bill.

“I just want to see what they think about it and why this is needed,” Naifeh told TNReport Tuesday.

The Haslam-backed measure, SB2207, was cruising through Statehouse committees with little resistance until earlier this month when on the Senate floor Roy Herron, a Democrat from Dresden, raised questions about the administration’s plan for ECD to start collecting identifying information about the owners of companies. Herron said he was troubled by the proposed legislation’s assurances that such information wouldn’t be made public.

The Senate’s most powerful lawmaker, GOP Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, later himself came out in favor of making companies that receive business incentives reveal who their owners are. Since business owners stand to perhaps personally benefit at the taxpayers’ expense, they should be identified to the taxpayers, Senate Republicans and Democrats skeptical of the governor’s “due diligence” plan asserted.

State ECD officials on Monday tried to sell House Democrats on the latest version of the plan, which doesn’t include business ownership information on the list of company information the state can ask from those applying for FastTrack grants, tax incentives and tax credits.

The state doesn’t collect ownership information now, nor did it under Bredesen’s tenure.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said most Democrats are concerned with the transparency component of the Haslam-backed measure. But Turner said a handful like Fitzhugh and Naifeh are more concerned with whether the business incentive system needs changing.

“It almost makes you wonder what kind of clients they’re going after, what they’ve got in mind to do this kind of thing,” Turner said of the Haslam administration.

Fitzhugh’s position in fact seems to have shifted somewhat from earlier statements he made on the issue. The House Democratic leader told reporters earlier this month he was leaning towards requiring that company ownership information be publicly divulged after a business is awarded a state grant, but that any sensitive proprietary information ECD collects should be kept confidential.

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.

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Press Releases

Haslam Outlines Legislative Agenda

Press Release from Gov. Bill Haslam; Jan. 10, 2012:

I hope you all had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season. While Crissy and I are excited to be back in Nashville and working towards moving Tennessee forward, we really enjoyed spending some time with our kids, family and friends.

As you may know, today marks the start of this year’s legislative session. And just a few minutes ago in the Old Supreme Court Chambers, I announced my 2012 legislative package aimed at moving Tennessee forward. This year, my focus remains: working to make Tennessee the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs. We hope to get closer to this goal through economic development efforts, meaningful education reform, a more efficient and effective state government and improved public safety. Our 2012 legislative package is aimed at impacting key issues that are absolutely crucial to tackle now. Here’s a sampling of these issues:

  • Strengthening the Department of Economic and Community Development’s FastTrack program by budgeting more for the grant program and giving the department more flexibility in utilizing those grants to attract and grow Tennessee jobs
  • Lowering the state portion of the sales tax on food from 5.5 percent to 5.0 percent over three years.
  • Providing innovation opportunities to local school districts by eliminating the outdated requirement of state and local salary schedules based strictly on seniority and training.
  • Taking a first step in reaching my goal of raising the state’s inheritance tax exemption from $1 million to $5 million by increasing it to $1.25 million to lower the burden on family farmers and family business owners as these businesses span generations.
  • Restructuring a number of state boards and commissions to eliminate duplicative functions and provide more accountability and oversight of these agencies
  • Addressing a number of public safety issues including prescription drug abuse, tougher sentencing for certain types of gang-related crimes, tougher sentencing for gun possession by those with prior violent felony convictions and mandatory jail time for repeat domestic violence offenders
  • Updating and reforming the state’s antiquated employment system through the TEAM Act (Tennessee Excellence Accountability and Management) by simplifying the hiring process, providing flexibility to retain and reward outstanding employees and streamlining the appeals process for employees. Watch a video detailing some of the employment issues facing the state »

These examples just scratch the surface of what we’re working on in 2012. I hope you’ll visit forward.tn.gov to learn more and watch a video about some of the issues with our state’s employment system. Thanks so much for your support and please feel free to share your feedback.

Best,

Bill

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Education NewsTracker

Big Apple-Bound Again

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will do double duty in New York early this week, working on job creation while also appearing at the NBC event called the Education Nation Summit.

Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty and a small team from ECD will be along for the trip in an effort much like the jobs trek the governor made to California in early September.

“We’ve asked our ECD folks — Commissioner Hagerty and others — to put together three or four different groups of both site selection people and some existing businesses, so again we can continue to sell Tennessee,” Haslam said.

Hagerty said the New York trip will run Monday-Wednesday. Haslam is scheduled to appear at a Tennessee Downtown Partnership event Wednesday in Nashville at noon. First Lady Crissy Haslam is scheduled to join her husband at the education summit.

The NBC education event kicks off with a teachers’ town hall on Sunday and concludes with a session with former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday. Haslam said he would be part of two panels at the summit, one on K-12 education and another on completing college.

Hagerty said the Tennessee contingent got a positive reception when it traveled to California and that the group will meet in New York with companies that have private equity investments in Tennessee as well as companies that have not made investments in the state yet.

Haslam and Hagerty have repeatedly said the state is interested in growing businesses that already exist in the state as well as those they would like to attract to Tennessee.

The education summit is expected to include governors Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island; Nathan Deal of Georgia; Mary Fallin of Oklahoma; John Hickenlooper of Colorado; Paul LePage of Maine; Jack Markell of Delaware; Bob McDonnell of Virginia; Sean Parnell of Arkansas; and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

Haslam is expected on Monday to participate in a discussion called “The State of Education: The Governor’s Perspective.” That session is expected to cover a variety of educational issues and include questions from teachers, principals, parents and students.

Haslam was invited to introduce President Barack Obama last Friday at the White House for the president’s announcement of a new approach to the federal No Child Left Behind Law. Obama is scheduled to give his third annual “Back To School” speech on Wednesday at a high school in Washington.

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Business and Economy NewsTracker

Norris Tweets Dig at Dems on Solyndra Setback

Everything under the sun seems to be open to squabbles over jobs between Republicans and Democrats in the Tennessee Legislature. Now it’s solar panels.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris tweeted Tuesday night, “Solyndra’s shadow as Dems plan to tour Bredesen’s solar farm.” Norris linked to a recent Nashville Business Journal article noting that solar businesses either seem to be starting up or fading away.

Solyndra, based in Fremont, Calif., specializes in rooftop solar power systems. The company received a loan of $535 million in 2009 as part of the federal stimulus package and has been lauded by the Obama administration as an example of the nation’s energy future.

But the company has shut down, laid off hundreds of workers and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company also faces a federal investigation. The House Energy and Commerce oversight committee is scheduled to begin hearings on Solyndra on Wednesday, but Solyndra executives have postponed their appearance, citing the bankruptcy proceedings. A column posted Tuesday night on Politico called the Solyndra venture “corporate favoritism” and “Chicago-style deal-making.”

Norris picked up on the Solyndra news as a further dig at Democrats, who plan to make the West Tennessee Solar Farm with Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith part of their jobs tour Sept. 19-24.

The Solar Farm is on the first day of the Democrats’ tour, right after a tour of the vacant West Tennessee megasite. The solar farm, near Interstate 40, is part of the Volunteer State Solar Initiative of former Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Norris responded to the Democrats’ jobs tour announcement early this month by calling it the “Obama Apology Tour.”

But in February, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam expressed his pleasure that the U.S. Department of Energy had cleared the path for the solar farm, citing Tennessee’s commitment to a clean energy future.

“It’s a tangible demonstration that jobs and investment in this fast-growing sector of our economy are welcome in Tennessee,” Haslam said in a formal statement at the time.

In the same announcement, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty said, “We’ve seen billions of dollars in capital investment in the solar industry alone in Tennessee. Coupled with the investments we’re seeing in energy efficiency, sustainable transportation and other forms of clean energy, the clean energy sector has the potential to truly become a bright spot for Tennessee in terms of job growth.”

Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander recently visited another Bredesen-linked project, the ethanol-from-switchgrass process in Vonore, Tenn., after which both the governor and the senator expressed support for the business but limited interest in subsidies for it.

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Business and Economy NewsTracker

Haslam’s Three New ‘R’s

Gov. Bill Haslam can be found emphasizing new fundamentals of education in a video from the Southern Governors’ Association, which met over the weekend in Asheville, N.C.

“They used to say that education was the ‘three R’s’ — reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic,” Haslam says in a video on workforce development. “But now it’s changed.”

Haslam applies three new “R”s.

“It’s about Relevance — making certain what you’re learning really does apply to what you need further in life,” he begins.

“Rigor — raising the standards.

“And Relationships — having the right, caring adults in front of students.”

Haslam has made the placement of the right teachers and principals in schools one of the cornerstones of his education reform agenda.

In a separate video from the SGA, Haslam addresses the governor’s role in innovation.

“Sometimes the role of governor is all about connecting,” Haslam says. “It’s about connecting somebody that has a great idea that can be taken to the marketplace maybe with other folks who have capital or have people who can provide exposure.”

Haslam has a $50 million program called INCITE in the Department of Economic and Community Development, where the goal is to help innovative ideas reach the market and enhance their visibility. INCITE is an acronym for innovation, commercialization, investment, technology and entrepreneurship.

Haslam also has a program in ECD called Startup Tennessee, where the idea is to match new businesses with capital and mentors from business to help the start-up businesses to grow.

Both the INCITE program and Startup Tennessee are part of the governor’s overall jobs program called JOBS4TN. The Haslam administration will host the 58th annual Governor’s Conference on Economic and Community Development in Nashville Sept. 22-23.