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Kisber Doesn’t Recall if Amazon Deal was in Writing

Former Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber said Saturday night he does not remember if the controversial Amazon.com tax arrangement with the state was ever put in writing.

The question of whether the Amazon deal was actually put on paper or was the result of a handshake deal has been one of many questions surrounding the agreement, which was made during former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration, in which Kisber served.

The Tennessee Department of Revenue commissioner at the time, Charles Trost, has previously refused to comment on specifics of the Amazon arrangement, as has Bredesen.

Amazon struck a deal with Tennessee in the waning weeks of Bredesen’s second term, where the Internet sales giant would build two distribution plants in the state and not have to collect sales taxes on its transactions — as opposed to the collection of the sales tax by the many bricks-and-mortar retailers in the state.

Some lawmakers, including chairs of both the House and Senate finance committees, have criticized the deal with Amazon, saying it gives Amazon an unfair competitive advantage.

Amazon has committed to building two distribution centers in southeast Tennessee, one each in Bradley and Hamilton counties, where the company agreed to provide more than 1,000 jobs. The Bredesen team made the deal under the presumption that if it did not offer the incentive on tax collections, Amazon might take its distribution centers — and the jobs that go with them — to another state, like Georgia. Amazon, it was recently reported, has offered 1,500 people jobs at the Bradley and Hamilton centers.

Amazon recently announced a third Tennessee distribution center, in Lebanon in Wilson County.

The issue of transparency on letter rulings — written statements on tax issues for specific taxpayers — from the Department of Revenue has risen during the Amazon debate. When lawmakers considered the Amazon deal during the legislative session this year, one of their questions was whether Amazon’s agreement was ever formally put on paper.

When asked Saturday night at the Tennessee Democratic Party’s Jackson Day Dinner in Nashville if the Amazon agreement was in writing, Kisber gave a long pause.

“I don’t actually remember,” he said, then taking another pause. “I really don’t. I don’t know if we got an MOU (memorandum of understanding). That’s so far back now, in terms of what I’ve been dealing with, I don’t … I don’t honestly remember. I would have to defer to the current administration.

“I remember the discussions. I remember everything we discussed, but I don’t remember if it got … if there was a written agreement or not.”

Kisber and former Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr have launched Silicon Ranch Corporation, a solar power development business, since leaving office. Bredesen is chairman of the operation.

Richard Roberts, current revenue commissioner under Gov. Bill Haslam, has refused to comment on Amazon’s deal, citing policies that prevent him from discussing agreements with private taxpayers.

Kisber said the project was in the works for many months and that there were multiple discussions involved in the deal. He recalled people on the site selection team, both on the consultant side and the company side, in the dealings with Amazon.

Haslam has announced his administration is talking to Amazon about a long-term arrangement in which Amazon would, in fact, collect the sales taxes, a development that has extended the debate over the issue and led to renewed discussion about the Bredesen deal. Haslam has said there would be openness on the long-term arrangement if and when one is completed.

Haslam had been elected, but not sworn in, when Bredesen informed him of his plans with Amazon. Haslam said he would agree to honor Bredesen’s commitment.

Kisber said the issue, as it was explained to him, involved third-party handling of the products being sold.

“I was told we were not talking about Amazon books and CDs. We were talking about companies for whom Amazon provides fulfillment services through their Internet platform,” Kisber said. “There are hundreds of companies that you buy from if you use Amazon that is not being sold by Amazon but is being fulfilled (by Amazon).

“And Tennessee has other companies that provide that type of service as well. This was consistent in my thinking with the services of those types of companies.”

Kisber complimented Haslam’s handling of the issue.

“Whenever an economic development project becomes political theater, it impacts the state’s reputation for business,” Kisber said. “And I commend Governor Haslam for working to resolve the issue and tone down the rhetoric so Tennessee can focus on its wonderful business climate and using that to attract projects to the state.”

Kisber attributed his inability to recall specific details on the Amazon deal to the passage of time since he worked for the State of Tennessee.

“I will be honest with you. I loved state government, and January 15 I left it. I have been focused on my business endeavors. Doing a start-up business is challenging enough,” Kisber said. “So I have been available if the current administration has any questions. But I have left that phase of my career.”

Kisber said he remembers Bredesen, Trost and Comptroller (Justin) Wilson being involved in the Amazon matter.

“As was the case on all projects, I was the lead for the state,” Kisber said.

He said there was unanimous concurrence on the rationale for the deal.

“I think most everyone involved was in complete agreement,” Kisber said. “We could get the jobs and not have the collections, or you could not get the jobs and not have the collections. The issue was one that was going to be resolved, in Governor Bredesen’s opinion and mine, that it was going to take a national solution.”

The concept of a national solution involves Congress acting in a way that would make the sales tax policies uniform among the states.

Kisber had been involved in the streamlined sales tax project that would bring all states in line under one agreement, going back to his days as a state legislator.

“I have been intimately involved and familiar with this issue from the very beginning,” he said. “And while we were advocating at that time, as a legislator, a common state solution, we all said the best solution would be a national solution, and I still believe the best solution is a national solution.”

There has been broad skepticism, however, that Congress would involve itself in the issue. A common belief is that forcing online retailers to collect sales taxes would make Congress appear to be advocating a new tax, even though such an act would only guarantee the collection of existing taxes. Others have argued that the issue would become so compelling for states collecting revenue that Congress would be forced to take action on their behalf.

Ramsey Seeks Details Of Taxpayer-Funded Economic Incentives

Officials in the administration of Gov. Bill Haslam have tried not to point fingers or publicly second-guess actions by former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s team involving major business relocations.

But Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey appears willing to ask tough questions about the deals sealed by Bredesen’s job recruitment officials, saying lawmakers have been left clueless about details on state deals that came late in Bredesen’s time in office.

Ramsey is wondering not only what is in those deals but asking exactly who made them and suggesting that more people — like himself — need to be part of the approval process since the Legislature has to OK the state money involved.

Ramsey has seized upon statistics provided by the current Department of Economic and Community Development that show only a small fraction of new jobs in the state in recent years has come through relocations.

Such relocation deals were hallmarks of Bredesen’s administration, where high-profile agreements like the arrivals of Volkswagen, Hemlock Semiconductor and Wacker Chemie were hailed with headlines that Tennessee was the place to be for major businesses looking for new homes.

But Ramsey is raising questions about deals that came later, involving Electrolux in Memphis and Amazon.com in Hamilton and Bradley counties.

Haslam has said the state is still pursuing relocations by big companies but that the focus is shifting to expanding businesses already here because that’s where real job growth is.

But if Haslam is reluctant to publicly question the deals made by his predecessor, Ramsey appears to be a willing volunteer. Ramsey, R-Blountville, has said he is “elated” that the Haslam administration is taking a different course on job growth.

Ramsey contacted Matt Kisber, Bredesen’s commissioner of Economic and Community Development, and scheduled a meeting to discuss deals involving the kitchen appliance maker Electrolux and distribution centers by Internet sales giant Amazon.

Kisber canceled, and Ramsey speculated that Kisber shied away from potentially becoming part of a “media event,” since Ramsey had told reporters about the scheduled meeting. Ramsey still held hope this week that he and Kisber could talk.

The issue raises matters of transparency in government. Business relocation negotiations notoriously involve tight lips. The issue has even crept into the local level. One bill considered by the Legislature this year would give a local government authority to designate negotiations as proprietary information.

When the Haslam administration presented its jobs plan last week, the presentation included two pie charts, taken from statistics in the last three quarters of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010, showing that the vast majority of new jobs in Tennessee were created by existing businesses, not relocations.

One chart, accounting for all jobs in the state — those achieved with or without state help — shows only 1.2 percent came from relocations to Tennessee. Another chart showed jobs announced by ECD — jobs where the state had a hand in creating them — and 27 percent of those came through re-locations.

The Department of Economic and Community Development said 85.6 percent of all jobs in the state came from expansion of existing businesses, 13.2 percent from newly created businesses, leaving only the 1.2 percent in re-locations.

Haslam said his interest is in results.

“You look and see: Where are the new jobs coming from? And 98 percent are coming from existing businesses in Tennessee,” Haslam said last week.

“We’re not going to quit recruiting outside our borders, but we are going to make certain we put the right focus on energy and dollars where the results are. So it’s not a question of saying we’re going to quit welcoming people in. Just the opposite. But we are going to focus on where the results are.”

Ramsey climbed aboard his war horse last week, telling reporters, “I think we’re going to look very closely at things that happened in the last month of the Bredesen administration, as they handed out $92 million, more like $100 million, to Electrolux. Apparently that’s in writing. We’ll have to honor it. But that’s pretty easy for a governor who knows he is leaving office in a month to do.

“The whole Amazon tax issue, that they’re not paying sales tax, I just don’t think that’s something that should ever have been agreed to. Apparently, it’s agreed to. We’ll honor it. I think all those types of programs in the future are going to be looked at very closely before we do it again.”

Ramsey said he wanted to make sure businesses are held accountable for their side of the deals.

“I am absolutely elated that our Department of Economic and Community Development now will be concentrating on trying to help existing employers here in the state of Tennessee, most of them homegrown businesses,” Ramsey said.

“They grow businesses at three, five, 10 employees at a time. That is where you grow jobs. They’re going to be concentrating on that. I’m excited about that.”

Haslam has been relatively quiet on the Electrolux and Amazon deals. The governor has said the state should honor a previous commitment to Electrolux, and he has said on Amazon, where the issue has been that Amazon is not collecting sales taxes, that the matter needs to be resolved nationally and can’t be handled by only one state.

But Ramsey has expressed concern that the Electrolux and Amazon agreements appear to be “cloaked in secrecy.”

“I just want to try to figure out exactly what we have promised some of these companies because, keep in mind, the Legislature is the ones that have to vote on these appropriations,” Ramsey said.

“I think it is legitimate for us to find out what was promised, and when, and we’re still having a very, very, very tough time getting to the bottom of this.”

The House on Monday approved $106 million in bonds on a 91-2 vote, with most of the financing devoted to Electrolux.

Ramsey said Sen. Randy McNally, chairman of the Senate Finance Ways and Means Committee, and members of the House have also been asking questions about the Electrolux and Amazon agreements. Ramsey said he did not know which state officials approved the deals.

“Not me. That’s all I know,” he said.

Efforts this week by TNReport to reach Kisber were unsuccessful.

“I do think there needs to be a larger group of people that agree to this type of policy,” Ramsey said. “It needs to be a combination of the executive branch and the legislative branch.”

Ramsey said he didn’t remember that anything was kept secret about the Volkswagen deal, where the car maker made a $1 billion investment in a plant in Hamilton County, or the Hemlock Semiconductor deal, which involved a $1 billion investment in Montgomery County, or the Wacker Chemie deal in Bradley County, which also carried a $1 billion investment.

“Yet it seems to be that the deals that were made in the waning moments of the last administration are cloaked in secrecy,” Ramsey said.

He hasn’t even learned much from the Haslam team. Ramsey said he asked Haslam and new ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty if they had actually talked to the Bredesen people about the matter.

“The answer is no, apparently,” Ramsey said.

Kisber and former Department of Revenue commissioner Reagan Farr together launched Silicon Ranch Corp., a green energy company, when they left state government. Bredesen is listed as chairman of Silicon Ranch and is featured atop Kisber and Farr on the leadership page of the business’s Web site.

Ramsey said there should at least be agreements in writing on Electrolux and Amazon.

“I have not seen anything in writing on either one of those deals,” Ramsey said. “That’s all I’m asking for, some kind of full disclosure, and if it’s something that needs to be kept confidential for business recruitment reasons then I’m more than happy to keep it confidential. Yet at the same time I want to make sure we as a Legislature — at least some members of the Legislature — know the details of some of these meetings.

“The one thing that I’d have to say is it makes you wonder if anything was in writing, if nothing has been presented in writing.”

Legislation sponsored by Memphis lawmakers and considered this week would authorize a local government, with the agreement of the local government’s attorney, to designate records as proprietary information, further preventing details of deals from becoming public.

The legislation, HB1774, would allow a local legislative body to determine that information should not be released because of its “sensitive nature” and that it should be considered confidential for five years. Only after that period would it become public record and open for inspection.

The City of Memphis has posted on its website the Electrolux deal, including a section on confidentiality. That agreement, in Section 12.5, which appears on Page 25 of the document, says:

“Each Public Authority understands the importance to itself and the Company of keeping details concerning the transactions contemplated hereby strictly confidential.

“Accordingly, each Public Authority acknowledges that, subject to all applicable laws which require disclosure of public records, all confidential, proprietary and trade secret information of the Company which has been delivered or otherwise made available to the Public Authorities, including the terms of this Agreement, is subject to the Confidentiality Agreements and may not othewise be disclosed to any third-party except in accordance with such respective agreement or as mandated by applicable law.

“Subject to applicable law, each Public Authority hereby agrees to redact any information in this Agreement which the Company deems, in its sole and absolute discretion, proprietary. The State hereby agrees that it will not publish any of the Letter Rulings issued in connection with this Agreement.”

The document further says that no press releases or other public disclosure about the transaction can be issued by any public authority without approval of the company.

Amazon.com Deal Final

State of Tennessee Press Release; Dec. 20, 2010:

Company Announces Commitment to Build Facilities in Hamilton, Bradley Counties

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Governor Phil Bredesen today joined Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber in announcing Amazon.com, Inc. has finalized its commitment to establish two fulfillment centers in Tennessee, one at the Enterprise South Industrial Park in Chattanooga and the other along State Route 308 in neighboring Bradley County. Amazon.com.dedc, LLC plans to invest a combined total of up to $139 million to construct the two new facilities, with up to 1,400 jobs expected to be created in the next three years, in addition to hundreds of additional seasonal jobs during peak season. The new fulfillment centers are expected to be operational before the 2011 holiday season.

“I’m pleased our discussions with Amazon.com have concluded with a positive result,” said Governor Bredesen. “This announcement means good job opportunities for Tennesseans with a great company and a strong endorsement of Tennessee’s business climate.”

“Amazon.com’s announcement is another example of the effectiveness of Governor Bredesen’s Jobs Cabinet and the strength of our partnerships with the local communities,” said Commissioner Kisber. “This is a significant investment by a highly respected global brand and we’re pleased to have Amazon.com in Tennessee.”

“We’re excited to be opening two new facilities in Tennessee to allow us to serve customers more quickly and efficiently,” said Dave Clark, vice-president, North America Operations, Amazon.com. “We’re thankful for the continuing cooperation of Governor Bredesen, Governor-elect Haslam, and the Department of Economic and Community Development, as well as the county and local officials.”

“We’re glad to formally and officially welcome Amazon.com to Hamilton County,” said Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey, who will leave elected office in January to serve as Governor-elect Bill Haslem’s Deputy Governor and Chief of Staff. “I know many people think this has been a done deal for weeks, but I want to express my appreciation to the County Commission and City Council for their support in finalizing this investment. I’m proud of what we’ve done together.”

“Amazon.com’s investment is good for the people of our region not only because it represents new jobs, but also because it is a major investment by a world-class company that stretches across county lines,” said Chattanooga City Mayor Ron Littlefield. “Amazon.com is helping us keep our local economy diverse while demonstrating our ability to work together as a region.”

“The Chamber’s successful Chattanooga Can Do program continues to attract the attention of internationally recognized companies,” said Trevor Hamilton, vice president of economic development for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. “Seamless cooperation among our public and private partners drives our ability to win job creation projects. In particular, I think it’s important to recognize Volkswagen for coming to the table and working with us to make this project a win for Chattanooga, a win forAmazon.com, and a win for Volkswagen. This is another great example of our Chattanooga CAN DO community spirit.”

“I’m pleased Amazon.com has chosen Bradley County for one of two distribution centers in this area,” said Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis. “Our workforce, good schools, and quality of life combine to make Bradley County an excellent choice for the world’s largest internet retailer and this announcement is a good example of how counties and chambers of commerce can work together in a regional partnership.”

“We’re happy Amazon.com has finalized its decision to locate in our region,” said Ross Tarver, chairman, Bradley/Cleveland Industrial Development Board. “The jobs created by Amazon will be another major boost to the diversity of our local and regional economy,” Tarver also thanked Governor Bredesen, Commissioner Kisber and Doug Berry, vice president, economic development for the Cleveland / Bradley Chamber of Commerce for their work on the project.

Statements of thanks were also issued by Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and Charleston Mayor Walter Goode to the Bradley County Commission and state representatives Kevin Brooks, Eric Watson and State Senator Dewayne Bunch.

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 Amazon.com

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth’s Biggest Selection. Amazon.com, Inc. seeks to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices. Amazon.com and other sellers offer millions of unique new, refurbished and used items in categories such as Books; Movies, Music & Games; Digital Downloads; Electronics & Computers; Home & Garden; Toys, Kids & Baby; Grocery; Apparel, Shoes & Jewelry; Health & Beauty; Sports & Outdoors; and Tools, Auto & Industrial. Amazon Web Services provides Amazon’s developer customers with access to in-the-cloud infrastructure services based on Amazon’s own back-end technology platform, which developers can use to enable virtually any type of business. Kindle, Kindle 3G and Kindle DX are the revolutionary portable readers that wirelessly download books, magazines, newspapers, blogs and personal documents to a crisp, high-resolution electronic ink display that looks and reads like real paper. Kindle 3G and Kindle DX utilize the same 3G wireless technology as advanced cell phones, so users never need to hunt for a Wi-Fi hotspot. Kindle is the #1 bestselling product across the millions of items sold on Amazon.

Amazon and its affiliates operate websites, including www.amazon.com, www.amazon.co.uk, www.amazon.de, www.amazon.co.jp, www.amazon.fr, www.amazon.ca, www.amazon.cn, and www.amazon.it. As used herein, “Amazon.com,” “we,” “our” and similar terms include Amazon.com, Inc., and its subsidiaries, unless the context indicates otherwise.

Forward-Looking Statements

This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Actual results may differ significantly from management’s expectations. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that include, among others, risks related to competition, management of growth, new products, services and technologies, potential fluctuations in operating results, international expansion, outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment center optimization, seasonality, commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, foreign exchange rates, system interruption, inventory, government regulation and taxation, payments and fraud. More information about factors that potentially could affect Amazon.com’s financial results is included in Amazon.com’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent filings.

Bredesen, Kisber Laud Latest Solar-Cluster Investment

State of Tennessee Press Release, Dec. 10, 2010:

Company to Invest $160 Million in New Technology at Bradley County, TN Plant

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen today joined with Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber in congratulating the board of directors and senior management of Missouri-based Olin Corporation for the company’s decision to invest $160 million in new technology at Olin’s Charleston, Tennessee plant. Olin will expand the production of potassium hydroxide at the facility, preserving 350 jobs while ending the plant’s use of mercury cell technology in 2012.

“I’m grateful for the confidence Olin has shown in its Tennessee workforce and in the business climate of Tennessee,” said Governor Bredesen. “This is a great example of the state partnering with an existing business to develop the conditions for expansion and additional capital investment.”

Olin’s Tennessee facility is adjacent to the planned site of Wacker Chemie’s $1 billion polysilicon production facility and Olin will be a supplier of chlorine to Wacker as well as other major customers throughout the region.

“We’ve predicted that ‘anchor’ projects like Wacker would have a positive impact on existing Tennessee companies,” said Commissioner Kisber. “Olin’s announcement is proof positive that focusing economic development efforts up and down the supply chain can both create and retain jobs.”

“As a result of today’s announcements, we will be eliminating our use of mercury cell technology in 2012,” said Joseph D. Rupp, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Olin Corporation. “The new Charleston plant will employ the most modern membrane technology, have lower operating costs, and will produce higher quality products. Over the past eighteen months we have experienced a steady increase in the number of our customers unwilling to accept our products manufactured using mercury cell technology. The conversion of the Charleston facility, which in addition to chlorine and caustic soda also produces potassium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid, and bleach, will prevent the potential loss of these valuable customers.”

“We are expanding our KOH capacity at Charleston with the potential to add even more production in the near future,” said Frank Chirumbole, President, Olin Chlor Alkali Products. “This is good news for our customers and the Charleston community. The Charleston plant is ideally suited to continue meeting the needs of our customers.”

Olin’s investment in the Charleston plant also is expected to generate hundreds of construction and related jobs. Construction will likely begin in the second quarter of 2011 and be completed by the end of 2012.

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 Olin

Olin Corporation is a manufacturer concentrated in two business segments: Chlor Alkali Products and Winchester. Chlor Alkali Products manufactures chlorine and caustic soda, sodium hydrosulfite, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen, potassium hydroxide and bleach products. Winchester products include sporting ammunition, reloading components, small caliber military ammunition and components, and industrial cartridges. For more information, please go to www.olin.com.

Amazon.com Considers Opening Tennessee Shipping Centers

Press Release from the State of Tennessee, Nov. 29, 2010:

Negotiations Underway for Fulfillment Centers in Chattanooga and Bradley Co., TN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber today confirmed the state of Tennessee is in discussions with Seattle, Washington-based Amazon.com, Inc about locating two fulfillment centers in Tennessee, one at the Enterprise South Industrial Park in Chattanooga and the other along State Route 308 in Bradley County, Tennessee. If negotiations are successful, the two projects would represent a combined investment of more than $164 million dollars to create more than two million square feet of distribution space and up to 1,400 new jobs over a period of years.

We are working diligently with Amazon.com officials to work through outstanding issues on this project, said Governor Bredesen. It is my hope that we can bring these discussions to a successful resolution and create a large number of jobs for the people of Tennessee.

There has been lots of speculation in the media in recent weeks about who we might be working with on this project, said Commissioner Kisber. Because of the need to move forward at the local level on PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of tax) agreements in multiple communities, we felt it was important at this time for policy makers at the state and local level to know who were in discussions with.

Commissioner Kisber has been leading a team which includes Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey, Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, Gary Farlow, president and CEO, Chamber of Commerce of Cleveland and Bradley County and Trevor Hamilton, vice president, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce in discussions with Amazon.com, Inc. All parties have pointed out a number of procedural steps must be completed involving the state, the county commissions and the local city councils before the project is a go.

This is not a done deal, Mayor Littlefield said. In addition to the PILOT agreements, there are a number of other issues to work through at the state and local level, but we have high hopes of firming up Amazons investment in the next few weeks.

Amazon would make a great addition to our local economy, said Mayor Ramsey. This is a complex project. We couldn’t have gotten this far without Hamilton County, Bradley County, the city of Chattanooga and the respective chambers from both communities working together to make this much progress in a short period of time. Well keep working together to make sure the opportunity becomes a reality for our citizens.

Even though this is not yet a done deal, Bradley County is taking the necessary steps to finalize its local commitment to the company, said Gary Davis, mayor, Bradley County. I am very pleased the county commission decided in workshop session to place the proposed PILOT agreement, industrial access authorization and the FastTrack grant authorization on the consent agenda for next Mondays meeting. To my knowledge, this is the first PILOT agreement ever placed on the consent portion of the agenda and it clearly reflects the level of cooperation, understanding, and trust we have all worked hard to establish between the Administration, the Bradley County Commission, and the Industrial Development Board.

Amazons presence will mean important opportunities for good jobs, said Ross Tarver, chairman, Bradley/Cleveland Industrial Board. A project this far-reaching has many components and takes time to finalize. We could not have gotten to this point without a dedicated and focused regional team working together and our city, county, chamber and state are to be commended.

The Amazon project has come together very rapidly over the past couple of months, said Trevor Hamilton, vice president, Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce. The company has a very ambitious construction timeline, so reaching resolution on the remaining issues is very important if were to be successful in winning this project.

Kisber Sees Washington Co. Koyo Expansion as Sign of Improving Economy

State of Tennessee Press Release, Nov 19, 2010:

Japanese Automotive Supplier Announces $30 Million Expansion in East Tennessee

NASHVILLE — Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber today congratulated the employees of Japanese automotive supplier Koyo Corporation USA in the wake of the company’s announced expansion of its manufacturing facility in Washington County, Tennessee. Koyo Corporation Vice President Steve McCullough announced the company’s plan to invest $30 million to add 61,000 square feet of space to its Tennessee-based manufacturing facility and to expand the facility’s workforce to 125 employees.

“Koyo has been an important part of Tennessee’s leadership position in the automotive industry and a great example of our state’s strong economic ties to Japan,” said Commissioner Kisber. “In an industry that’s beginning to recover from the recession, Koyo’s success is a cause for optimism and a tribute to the productivity and quality of the Tennessee workforce.

Commissioner Kisber said with its investment, Koyo will qualify for statutory incentives like the FastTrack Infrastructure Development Program and the FastTrack Job Training Assistance Program.

“Our continued growth in the USA automotive market is a testament to the quality and dedication of all of our associates,” said Koyo Vice President Steve McCullough. “2009 was a tough year for everyone but Koyo has positioned itself to take full advantage as the auto industry starts to rebound. Koyo’s Washington County plant is an integral part of Koyo’s Long Term Strategy and Growth.”

Koyo Corporation USA is a wholly owned subsidiary of JTEKT Corporation, a world leader in the production of steering systems, drivelines, bearings and machine tools. JTEKT is one of the world’s largest automotive component suppliers and the company’s Koyo USA subsidiary is a Tier 1 and Tier 2 supplier to Toyota, Honda, Ford, GM, Daimler Chrysler, and BMW

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.

Corporate Info Website Ranks Tennessee ‘Business Climate’ 2nd in U.S.

Press Release from the State of Tennessee, Nov. 1, 2010:

Annual Site Selection Survey Ranks Red Tape, Financial Assistance and Government Cooperation

NASHVILLE — The editors of Site Selection have named the state of Tennessee the nation’s second best state for business climate in the magazine’s November 2010 issue. Tennessee’s standing marks an improvement over the Volunteer State’s fifth place ranking in 2009 and places Tennessee behind only North Carolina in terms of attractiveness for corporate investment and job creation. The highly regarded annual rankings by one of the nation’s leading economic development magazines is based on performance in business expansion and relocation, as well as nationwide survey of corporate real estate executives.

“We’ve made incredible progress in making Tennessee the kind of state where business knows it will be treated fairly,” said Governor Phil Bredesen. “We know companies want to be where government understands their needs and will help craft solutions to achieve them, whether it’s creating a trainable workforce or providing the infrastructure needed to get products to market. We’ve proven Tennessee can get the job done.”

“I couldn’t be more pleased that the hard work we’ve undertaken in Tennessee is being recognized nationally for its impact on the lives of people in Tennessee,” said Matt Kisber, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. “In a very challenging environment, we’ve demonstrated that raising educational standards, expanding workforce development and putting in place flexible incentives is the right formula to create jobs.”

The announcement marks the sixth time in the past eight years Tennessee has ranked among the top five states in the country for business climate. Since the start of the Bredesen Administration, more than 190,000 new jobs and more than $33 billion in new capital investment have been recruited by the state. In compiling the rankings, site selectors were asked to rank the most important factors in making decisions about investment. They cited workforce development, state and local tax policy and transportation infrastructure as their top three factors.

“All states face economic and budgetary challenges these days,” said Site Selection Editor-in-Chief Mark Arend. “This ranking reminds us there are significant success stories, too.”

The rankings, along with the magazine’s annual update on state business legislation and incentive changes appears in the November 2010 edition of Site Selection and is available online at www.sitenet.com

In addition to the Site Selection ranking, Tennessee was also named Co-State of the Year for economic development by Southern Business and Development in July 2010, was ranked third best in Chief Executive Officer magazine’s annual rankings of the Best and Worst Places to Do Business in April 2010 and was named the 2nd best state in the country for Economic Growth Potential by Business Facilities magazine in August 2010.

State Gives TN Cities $115,000 in ‘Green’ Innovation Grants

State of Tennessee Press Release, Oct. 19, 2010:

Main Street/Green Street Innovation Grants Awarded to 21 Communities; Certified Tennessee Main Street Communities Initiate “Green” and Sustainable Projects

NASHVILLE – Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber announced today that 21 Main Street/Green Street Innovation Grants have been awarded to “green” and sustainable projects in downtown communities across the state. A complete list of communities and project descriptions follows.

“These innovative ‘green’ projects showcase our Tennessee downtown communities’ commitment to environmental and downtown revitalization efforts and allow them to lead by example,” said Commissioner Kisber. “The Main Street/Green Street proposed projects will not only enhance and improve individual downtown communities, but they also support the state’s efforts to advance sustainability and economic development across Tennessee.”

Certified Tennessee Main Street Programs were eligible to apply for a reimbursable $5,000 grant from ECD’s Main Street Green/Street Innovation Grant program to develop or continue innovative projects within their community’s downtown that illustrate tangible results through “green” and sustainable activities. Projects are required to utilize Main Street principles and follow the “Main Street Four-Point Approach to Downtown Revitalizationtm.”

Communities submitted proposals in one of the following three categories:

  • Sustainable design for downtown – Streetscape and property upgrades that encourage “green” design.
  • Marketing and technology – Marketing and technology that encourages “green initiatives.”
  • Local business – Tangible projects that encourage local enterprise.

“Each of the selected projects presented concrete plans to establish or improve conservation efforts in their downtown community while utilizing the Main Street principals,” said Rick Meredith, assistant commissioner for Community Development at ECD. “We are eager to see the projects be put to action and the benefits they will bring to downtown and central business districts across the state.”

Ten certified Tennessee Main Street Programs were awarded an additional $1,000 in grant monies for participating in the Tennessee Main Street Mentor Program. The Main Street Mentors will share best practices, offer advice and provide assistance to communities participating in ECD’s Tennessee Downtowns, a program focused on helping communities fully understand what it takes to embark on a comprehensive downtown revitalization effort.

The following Certified Tennessee Main Street Programs and projects were selected for the Main Street/Green Street Innovation Grant program:

  • Believe in Bristol, Bristol: $5,000 Recycling signage and promotion, cans and supplies.
  • Main Street Cleveland*, Cleveland: $6,000 The addition of trees and shrubs, trash receptacles, bike racks and website redesign for downtown.
  • Main Street Collierville*: Collierville, $6,000 Design, installation and marketing of website for downtown; bike racks.
  • Columbia Main Street, Columbia: $5,000 Main Street heritage walking trail brochures, bronze medallions and promotional pedometers.
  • CityScape/Cookeville, Cookeville $5,000 Alleyway improvement for a pocket park or for green space development. Services would include new piping, rock backfill and asphalt.
  • Dandridge Community – A Main Street Program*, Dandridge $6,000 Shop Local brochures, refurbish benches and rain barrels for revolutionary era graveyard garden.
  • Main Street Dayton, Dayton: $5,000 Billboard, posters and advertisement for downtown buy-local shopping campaign.
  • Fayetteville Main Street, Fayetteville: $5,000 The addition of recycle containers; buy-local business website.
  • Main Street Dyersburg, Dyersburg: $5,000 Advertisements with billboards and posters to promote downtown businesses.
  • Downtown Franklin Association*, Franklin: $6,000 Interactive website and bike racks for downtown.
  • Greater Gallatin*, Gallatin: $6,000 Renovate Palace Theater marquee with new wiring, sockets, rotating device and neon lettering.
  • Main Street Greeneville*, Greeneville: $6,000 Promote walkability, add links to website encouraging local enterprise and promote buy-local campaigns.
  • Jackson Downtown Development Co., Jackson: $5,000 Landscaping, painting and pouring concrete to support local green initiative. Prepare area to be used as outdoor picnic and stage area.
  • Johnson City Development Authority*, Johnson City: $6,000 Development of architectural stabilization plans, energy efficiency and restoration of CC&O Depot.
  • Downtown Kingsport Association, Kingsport: $5,000 Energy efficient heating and cooling unit to be installed in downtown building.
  • Crossroads Partnership/Morristown*, Morristown: $6,000 Bike racks, recycling containers, crosswalk markers and message center.
  • Main Street: Murfreesboro/Rutherford County, Inc., Murfreesboro: $5,000 Signage, promotional materials, tents and other needs for the weekly farmers’ market.
  • Rogersville Main Street*, Rogersville: $6,000 Shop local campaign, print materials to promote downtown and local businesses; installation of an energy efficient sprinkler system to maintain town square’s trees and flowers.
  • Savannah Main Street, Savannah: $5,000 Website to promote Green Street downtown projects, promotions and events.
  • Tiptonville Main Street, Tiptonville: $5,000 Repair windows to encourage “green” design; custom canvas awnings for downtown building energy efficiency.
  • Main Street Union City*, Union City: $6,000 Installation of an irrigation system and landscaping for four islands in downtown.

*Denotes a Main Street Mentor to the Tennessee Downtowns communities.

About the Tennessee Main Street Program

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. For more information about Tennessee’s Main Street program, visit http://tn.gov/ecd/CD_main_street_program.html.