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Haslam Signs Law Expanding FastTrack

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; May 17, 2012:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced he has signed legislation to expand the state’s FastTrack program to specifically support economic development in rural communities and for exceptional projects.

The governor proposed the legislation, HB 2344/SB 2206, in January to create the FastTrack Economic Development Fund, an expansion of the Department of Economic and Community Development’s (ECD) current infrastructure and job training program.

The legislation resulted from a 12-month review of ECD’s incentive programs with input from companies, site selection consultants and economic development stakeholders.

By making reimbursable grants to local industrial development boards, the fund provides additional grant support for companies expanding or locating in Tennessee, and the legislation stipulates that the fund will only be used in exceptional cases where the impact of the company on a given community is significant.

“Tennessee is recognized as one of the best places to do business in the country, and this legislation gives us another tool in the toolbox to help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs by focusing on our rural communities and recruiting and growing significant jobs,” Haslam said.

The FastTrack Economic Development Fund will aid companies in a variety of ways, including relocation expenses, temporary office space, capital improvements, retrofitting and other expenditures not previously covered by FastTrack infrastructure or job training grants.

“I want to thank the General Assembly for their support of the FastTrack Economic Development Fund,” ECD Commission Bill Hagerty said. “A more flexible FastTrack grant program will be extremely helpful to local governments, chambers of commerce and economic development professionals around the state as we work together to encourage existing industry expansions and recruit new companies to Tennessee.”

Sponsors of the FastTrack Economic Development Fund include Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville), Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) and Rep. Tim Wirgau (R-Buchanan).

For more information on the FastTrack Economic Development Fund, click here.

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Business and Economy NewsTracker

Chattanooga Touted as Economic Success Story

Chattanooga, with its low unemployment and increasing property values, is showcased as something of an economic turnaround story in today’s Wall Street Journal.

The city’s riverfront development, Internet connections that can reach speeds 200 times the U.S. average, and the attraction of employers Amazon and Volkswagen are touted as evidence the city has undergone a rebirth in the last 50 years.

The writer revisits the loss of manufacturing jobs in the ‘60s and brings the story forward through renewal and development in the subsequent three decades: “By the mid-1990s, the downtown boasted new museums, a theater and an aquarium. Next, city leaders turned to wooing businesses.”

That taxpayers and their pocketbooks continue to play a major role in the city’s growth is not lost in the praise, with criticism of “corporate welfare” on the one hand, a belief that such grants are indispensable on the other.

For now, the proponents are winning. All Tennesseans are chipping in. The state program called FastTrack used to entice Amazon and Volkswagen’s operations to Tennessee is poised to expand.