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Senate Judiciary Holds Hearing on Bill to Help Reformed Felons Find Work

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; October 28, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing today on a bill introduced by Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) that would help reformed former felons seek employment. Senate Bill 276 will help spur job creation, reduce crime, and protect businesses from needless lawsuits. The bill will allow former criminals to petition courts for a certificate of employment restoration, and it will protect future employers who hire these new job-seekers from claims of negligent hiring.

“At a job fair last October, the number one request I heard was for legislation that would help reformed felons,” said Senator Kelsey. “With this bill, these individuals will now have a meaningful path to obtaining employment and leading a law-abiding life.”

Christopher Slobogin, Milton R. Underwood Chair in Law and Director of the Criminal Justice program at Vanderbilt University Law School, testified in favor of Senator Kelsey’s legislation. Professor Slobogin stated that providing a means for employment is the best way to reduce criminal recidivism.

This legislation will especially impact those former felons who may have been convicted of a nonviolent crime many years ago and have already paid their debt to society by fulfilling all of a court’s sentencing requirements.

“This bill protects the public by requiring a judge to determine that an individual does not pose a risk to public safety before he can receive a certificate of employment restoration,” said Sen. Kelsey. “This bill will help prevent future crimes by ensuring these individuals have access to good paying jobs and are not tempted to return to a life of crime.”

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Kelsey, Camper File Legislation to Aid Reformed Felons in Job Search

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; January 30, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and State Representative Karen Camper (D-Memphis) have filed a bill that helps reformed former felons seek employment. Senate Bill 276 also protects the future employers who hire these new job-seekers from claims of negligent hiring.

“At a job fair in October, the number one request I heard was for legislation that would help reformed felons,” said Senator Kelsey. “By petitioning the courts for a certificate of employment restoration, those individuals will now have a meaningful path to obtaining employment and leading a law-abiding life.”

This legislation will especially impact those former felons who may have been convicted of a non-violent crime many years ago and have already paid the price for their crimes by fulfilling all of a court’s sentencing requirements.

“After meeting and talking with many former felons at a recent job fair I hosted, I realized that the best way we can prevent crime in the future is to ensure that they have access to good paying jobs,” said Rep. Karen Camper. “People who have paid their debt to society should be given the opportunity to contribute as productive citizens.”

Before a certificate of employment restoration is issued, a judge must determine that the individual petitioning the court has established that the certificate will assist them in obtaining a job, help meet the need of living a law-abiding life, and not pose any unreasonable risk to the safety of the general public or any individual.

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Hundreds Attend Rutherford Co. Job Fair

Press release from the Tennessee House Republican Caucus; August 29, 2012: 

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—While the economy may be showing signs of some improvement, a number of Tennesseans are still looking for work. Last week, an event in LaVergne helped to connect a number of them with large companies in the area.

The Tennessee Career Center at Murfreesboro and Representative Mike Sparks (R—LaVergne) co-hosted a Rutherford County Job Fair last Thursday. The event was held at Grace Assembly Church Worship & Community Center where a Tennessee Career Coach aided applicants in filing their information with interested employers as well as registering their information in the Jobs4TN Online program.

Over 430 applicants attended the event—one of the most successful to date. Participating employers included:

  • Metro Nashville Police Department
  • MAPCO Express
  • Embassy Suites Murfreesboro/Franklin
  • TN Highway Patrol
  • UPS
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc.
  • Yates Services
  • Operation Stand Down Nashville

Sparks stated, “This was a great event that would not have been possible without the help of Pastor Randy Berg and the staff of Grace Assembly. Without them stepping up to provide a location, we would not have had a place to stage this successful event.”

“With so many people looking for work, we need to try and have more events like this where employers are brought directly to the community,” continued the LaVergne Representative. “I am hopeful that, with the success of this job fair, we’ll attract more support from private sector companies so we can continue delivering this service to the people of Rutherford County.”

Overall, 30 local businesses participated in the event.

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New Administration Plans Regional ‘Roundtables’ on Job Creation

Press Release from the Office of Gov. Bill Haslam, Jan. 24, 2011:

First Regional Meeting to Take Place in Memphis Thursday

NASHVILLE – Governor Bill Haslam announced a series of regional jobs roundtables to take place across the state beginning this Thursday in Memphis.

The roundtables – as part of Haslam’s jobs agenda – are locally driven and will include local officials and state leaders from the areas of education and economic and workforce development.

Haslam’s regional approach to economic development will leverage each area’s existing assets and identify a unifying strategy that promotes partnerships between industry and education.

“Each region needs short-term and long-term strategies for job growth, and our regional job strategy is designed to encourage public-private partnerships between industry and post-secondary institutions,” Haslam said. “Some areas have current coordinated efforts underway, and others will develop theirs from the ground up. I want to determine how the state can help in both sets of circumstances.”

Haslam will ultimately establish “jobs base camps” in each region, but this marks the first phase of convening stakeholders and discussing how the state can facilitate regional coordinated efforts and offer more support.

“This will be one of many conversations I have about jobs in the Memphis and other regions as we work through my jobs agenda, and I will be proactive and personally involved with job recruitment and pitching our great state to potential businesses,” Haslam added.

Haslam will begin Thursday in Memphis where Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell have convened a diverse group of stakeholders for a conversation with Gov. Haslam.

The roundtable will take place at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at 3 p.m. CST.

Other roundtables will be announced at a later date.

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IB-Tech Opening Mount Pleasant Automotive Plant

State of Tennessee Press Release,, Sept. 08, 2010

Japanese Auto Parts Manufacturer to Create 385 Jobs, Invest $50 Million in Maury County

Nashville – Governor Phil Bredesen and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber, along with company officials, today announced that IB-Tech, a subsidiary of Japanese-owned auto parts manufacturer Imasen Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., will open a production facility in Mount Pleasant, Tenn. IB-Tech will invest $50 million to manufacture high quality seat adjusters, creating 385 jobs in Maury County.

“This announcement by IB-Tech further strengthens Tennessee’s reputation as a world-class manufacturing hub with a productive, educated workforce,” said Governor Bredesen. “IB-Tech will be a welcome addition to the Maury County economy, and I appreciate their investment in our state and its citizens.”

“IB-Tech’s decision to open a Mount Pleasant facility is a great testament to the special relationship we share with Japan, which is by far Tennessee’s largest foreign direct investor with $14 billion invested in our state’s economy,” Commissioner Kisber said. “We remain committed to helping new and growing international companies put down roots in our state and helping them succeed as a result of our strong business environment and workforce.”

IB-Tech will start production planning in 2011 with full production in 2012. The facility will be located in the former Avantech building at One Timco Drive in Mount Pleasant. Clinton Gilbreath of CB Richard Ellis represented IB-Tech in the search for an appropriate facility in Middle Tennessee.

“We are excited about opening a facility in Maury County,” John Freundner, assistant vice president of administration for IB-Tech said. “The location, support from community leaders, solid workforce and great facility in Mount Pleasant was key in our selection process.”

“We’ve been working on this project for some time now,” Maury County Mayor Jim Bailey said. “It takes a lot of people to get a deal like this done; I’m proud of the way the State of Tennessee, TVA, the City of Mount Pleasant and Maury County all worked together to get this project across the goal line.”

“IB-Tech’s announcement of a new manufacturing facility is great economic news for our area,” said John Bradley, TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development. “TVA and local service providers, such as Mount Pleasant Power System, are pleased to be on the economic development team with city and county leaders to assist companies as they locate and grow.”

In addition to seat adjusters, Imasen Electric produces automobile lamps, relays and window regulators. Imasen Electric is an independent Japanese auto-parts manufacturer holding a large share of the market for automobile seat adjusters. The company manufactures a variety of products for the automotive industry and serves clients such as Honda and Mitsubishi. This will be their second manufacturing facility in the United States, with one previous operation in Bucyrus, Ohio.

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.

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Business and Economy Environment and Natural Resources News

Enviros, Unions Hoping to Get Lucky with Clean Energy Jobs Package

With lobbyists and lawmakers milling about Capitol Hill attired in festive emerald hues, a coalition of interest groups decided St. Patrick’s Day was a perfect opportunity to roll out an organized push for “green jobs” in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Legislators will start considering a bill that would help funnel federal dollars to the state to try stimulating the energy-efficiency industry. The legislation, which is expected to go before House and Senate committees next week, would build a task force devoted to helping the state attract federal dollars for green energy jobs.

“These are the jobs of the future. This is what we have to be aiming for. This and more,” said on of the proposal’s chief sponsors, Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga.

After several weeks of working potential wrinkles out of the legislation, Burke said the bill is now ready for primetime and he’ll be making its passage a priority beginning next week.

Clad in green clothes and stickers, representatives of the Green-Collar Task Force of Nashville and Davidson County, said the additional jobs would help address the state’s high unemployment and put money back into the economy.

“Green jobs are especially good because they cannot be easily outsourced, say, to Asia,” said Jerry Lee of the AFL/CIO. “If you put up solar panels, you can’t ship a building to Asia and have them put the solar panels on and ship it back. These jobs have to be done in the United States.”

House bill sponsor and Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, said he didn’t know how many green jobs would be created, but speculated it could be thousands within three or four years.

Tennessee is “uniquely positioned” to house jobs in energy efficiency because of the work being done at the state’s universities, he said.

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TN’s Big 3 Campaign Issues: ‘Jobs, Jobs & Jobs’

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam plans to launch a statewide “jobs tour” this week, and it’s safe to say he won’t be the only candidate addressing the issue for the next several months.

If there’s been one constant refrain by the candidates thus far, it’s been “jobs, jobs and jobs,” as Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey described Tennessee’s “top three issues” in a recent speech.

Candidates often have pet projects and special agendas in any election. Sometimes candidates completely misread what the public wants and needs, but candidates from both major political parties this year seem to understand the one thing most on the public’s mind is employment and its relationship to the economy.

Haslam, Republican mayor of Knoxville, has also announced that as governor he would create regional “jobs base camps,” where 10 to 13 “regional directors” in the state will apply strategies specific to each area. Haslam says his approach would “decentralize the home office.”

Given Haslam’s assertions that he has a conservative agenda, he was asked if the regional program would add to bureaucracy and expand state government. But he quickly rejected that notion.

“We’re not adding more people. We’re just pushing more authority to the regional level,” said Haslam, whose family owns Pilot Corp., known for its Pilot Travel Centers. “We want the right people to lead that regional effort. It comes from my conviction being in business that the more we pushed decisions down to the local level, the better decisions got made, because they understood the environment there better than we did back at the main office.”

Ramsey has said he wants a focus on small business as governor, to the point he wants every department in state government thinking about it.

He relies on personal experience, where after attending East Tennessee State University and wanting to be self-employed he knew he had to work for someone for two years to get a license as a surveyor. His plan was to put in his two years then immediately quit to go out on his own. That’s what he did.

“When it came time to leave, I said I would give them a two-weeks notice, but I was told, ‘Don’t bother. Go ahead,'” Ramsey said. So he left, and the next day his wife gave birth.

“I didn’t know where my paycheck was coming from. We started with only a pickup truck and a prayer,” Ramsey said.

So Ramsey says he understands the needs of small businesses.

Democrat Mike McWherter, a Jackson businessman, told an audience of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce last week he knows what the state’s priorities should be.

“Tennessee needs a governor who will put the creation and retention of jobs front and center on the agenda. That’s why I’m running for governor,” said McWherter, son of former Tennessee governor Ned McWherter. “Like you, I’m a business person, not a career politician. Like you, I understand what it is to make a payroll. Like you, I understand what it is to sit down and work out a health care plan for the year. Like you, I understand what it is to build a budget and live within that.

“If Tennessee is going to prosper, the next governor has got to be an individual with the skills and background who understands how to build this economy, how to create jobs and, I think most importantly, how to maintain jobs here in Tennessee.”

McWherter said it’s important to get greater accountability out of state government.

“I’ve spent my last 20 years in business creating jobs. In short, that’s what I’m all about. Job creation,” he said. “If we’re going to turn this economy around here at home, we’ve got to put Tennesseans to work, and we’ve got to put Tennessee businesses first.

“If you run an existing business in Tennessee, I have a message for you. I know you’re struggling. But help is on the way.”

McWherter’s Democratic opponent, former legislator Kim McMillan, speaks frequently of the need to capitalize on partnerships like the one at Austin Peay State University and the new Hemlock Semiconductor business in Clarksville, focusing on green technology jobs.

Republican candidate Zach Wamp, a member of Congress from Chattanooga, says that in 10 years the state should go from third to first in automotive manufacturing, and from third to first in energy technologies, including green energy.

He’s fond of saying, “If someone doesn’t make it, build it or grow it, you can’t service it or sell it.”

Wamp also sees an opportunity for job creation in a sector many Tennesseans don’t even think about. He wants to establish a defense corridor, capitalizing on the state’s military assets and using them as an opportunity to establish even more jobs. Wamp says a line of Tennessee military businesses and study centers would fall between Huntsville, Ala., and Fort Campbell, Ky.

Republican Bill Gibbons, district attorney general in Shelby County, focuses on the state’s standing in the region.

“I want to make sure we are above the Southeast average in per capita income,” Gibbons said. “Right now we’re about $1,000 below it and $5,000 below the national average. I think an achievable goal is to be above the Southeast average by the end of the first term. We also have an under-employment problem. The job of governor is to create a climate for economic growth, more good-paying jobs. The jobs have to come from the private sector, but the governor can lead the way in creating that climate for economic growth.”

Gibbons said the climate includes keeping taxes low, providing infrastructure for growth, reducing red tape in state government and to “go after the growth industries of the future.”