Press Releases

Haslam Concludes Post-Grad Workforce-Readiness Meetings

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; August 28, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has concluded a series of seven candid conversations he held across the state with employers and educators to better link post-secondary education to high-quality jobs.

“It is our responsibility to produce a quality workforce that meets the needs of Tennessee employers and is attractive to companies interested in doing business here,” Haslam said. “While there are examples of productive programs and partnerships already in place, we need to do a better job of connecting employers and educators to prepare our graduates for the jobs of the future.

“It is important that we are defining reality for our students so they are aware of possible job opportunities along with the skills and knowledge those jobs require. We also have to be intentional about allocating funding and resources to effectively address these issues.”

The series of statewide discussions spanned six weeks and were held in Blountville, Jackson, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville, Cookeville and Chattanooga. Participants included business executives from small, medium and large companies along with representatives from public universities, community colleges, technology centers and K-12 schools as well as legislators.

In each location, the governor heard about programs and partnerships between employers and educators that are having a positive impact. He also heard a number of concerns from business leaders about the lack of skills among job candidates ranging from the basics of reading, writing and communicating to critical thinking and problem solving to expertise in science, technology, engineering and math. Another common theme was that the state and post-secondary education institutions must connect more closely with companies to anticipate years in advance what skills and competencies will be needed for future jobs as innovation continues.

When asked for potential solutions to these problems, business leaders and educators expressed varying ideas, including the need to better track available jobs in specific industry sectors along with keeping up with the skills required to fill those jobs; increased investments in technology and capacity to address waiting lists in certain job areas; the value of co-ops, internships, mentors and guidance counselors; and the need for educators and business leaders to better communicate on a regular and intentional basis.

These conversations followed a meeting Haslam convened in June of members of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), University of Tennessee Board of Trustees and Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC) along with leaders from the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA), Tennessee Business Roundtable, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry and legislative leadership from the House and Senate to discuss these workforce development issues along with the importance of a comprehensive and coordinated focus on the issues of access, affordability and the quality of our Tennessee colleges, universities and technology centers.

As the governor continues to focus on post-secondary education issues, the insight gained from these meetings will be valuable as he moves into the next phase of evaluating the state’s most effective role in bridging gaps between available jobs of Tennessee employers and putting Tennesseans to work in those jobs.

Press Releases

State Hands Out $160K in Job-Training Grants

Press Release from the Office of Gov. Bill Haslam, March 29, 2012

Governor Awards More Than $150K In Job Training Grants; Nine Companies Awarded Grants Training 298 Employees

NASHVILLE– Governor Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Karla Davis have awarded $159,215 in job training grants to nine companies across the state. Incumbent Worker Training grants assist employers with upgrading skills and avoiding layoffs for their employees.

“If Tennessee is going to become the number one location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs, then we must offer a well-trained workforce to employers,” said Governor Haslam. “This kind of training grant not only helps educate workers, but also provides incentive to employers looking to relocate or expand in Tennessee.”

“Both job creation and retention are vital in maintaining a healthy economy in Tennessee, and the Incumbent Worker Training program has played a key role in accomplishing this,” said Commissioner Davis. “Since the program’s inception, Incumbent Worker Training grants have assisted more than 600 businesses by providing $14 million to train approximately 50,000 employees.”

The Incumbent Worker program has been structured to be flexible to meet the business’s training objectives. The business may use public, private, or its own in-house training provider based on the nature of the training. The following criteria must be met to qualify for the Incumbent Worker Training Program. Employers must be in operation in Tennessee for at least one year prior to application date. Employers must have at least five full-time employees, demonstrate financial viability and be current on all state tax obligations. Funding priority is given to businesses whose grant proposals represent a significant layoff avoidance strategy and represent a significant upgrade of skills.

The Incumbent Worker Training Program is funded by the Federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and administered by the Workforce Development division within the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, the Local Workforce Investment Area (LWIA contact), and the local career center.

Follow the link below for a list of companies receiving Incumbent Worker Training Grants

Press Releases

May Unemployement Rate Down a Smidge

State of Tennessee Press Release; June 17, 2010:

Seasonally Adjusted Rate Down 0.1 Percentage Point from April

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Commissioner of Labor & Workforce Development James Neeley announced today Tennessee’s unemployment rate for May was 10.4 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the April rate of 10.5 percent. The May 2009 rate was 10.7 percent. The national unemployment rate for May 2010 was 9.7 percent, down 0.2 percentage point from the April rate of 9.9 percent.

“Gains from the Census jobs aside, the modest employment growth in Tennessee continues to be positive,” reported Labor Commissioner James Neeley. “The state’s unemployment rate is trending downward, and we are experiencing slightly higher monthly job growth than the national average.”

Major Changes in Estimated Nonagricultural Employment

April 2010 to May 2010

According to the Business Survey, Federal Government increased by 10,100 due to the hiring of temporary Census workers. Leisure and Hospitality; added 7,200 jobs and Professional and Business Services increased by 5,200. Major employment decreases occurred in Educational and Health Services, down by 3,800 and State Government Educational Services declined by 1,600 jobs.

Major Changes in Estimated Nonagricultural Employment

May 2009 to May 2010

Year-over-year increases occurred in Federal Government, up by 10,600; Administrative, Support, and Waste Services gained 9,800; and Retail Trade was up by 5,400. Year-over-year decreases occurred in Transportation and Warehousing, down by 7,200; Durable Goods Manufacturing lost 6,600; and Mining and Construction decreased by 6,500.

Press Releases

Haslam Wants To Pair Up Students, Businesses

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor, March 24, 2010:

Will Work With Businesses, Postsecondary Institutions to Train Workers, Meet Workforce Needs

CHATTANOOGA – Speaking with business leaders, higher education officials, and economic development professionals during a key stop on his statewide Jobs Tour, Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam announced today a plan to help foster workforce development partnerships between Tennessee businesses and postsecondary institutions.

As governor, Mayor Haslam will work to create seamless transitions between postsecondary education and training and the workforce. Earlier this month, Mayor Haslam announced a plan to install regional jobs base camps across the state that will help align and coordinate local economic development efforts and produce powerful strategies to leverage each region’s unique assets.

As a part of the Mayor’s plan to improve workforce development efforts, the directors of these 10-13 base camps will work closely with businesses and postsecondary institutions to create partnerships that help businesses meet workforce demands and help university, community college, and technical center graduates obtain good jobs.

“We should constantly be looking for new ways to partner and create mutually beneficial relationships that ultimately lead to employed Tennesseans,” Haslam said. “Nearly 11 percent of Tennessee workers are currently unemployed, and at the same time, I’ve heard from business owners throughout this Jobs Tour who have told me there’s a shortage of available workers who possess the skills they need,” Haslam continued. “I believe there’s a clear opportunity to do more to help Tennesseans obtain good jobs.

“Throughout the state, there are examples of these types of partnerships,” said Haslam. “Right here in Chattanooga, TVA has had a long-standing relationship with Chattanooga State, which in the past couple years has been taken to a whole new level.”

At this morning’s meeting in Chattanooga, Mayor Haslam emphasized the special nature of the partnership between the Tennessee Valley Authority and Chattanooga State Community College that led to the creation of an entirely new degree program designed to help TVA meet its rising demand for radiation protection technicians. Chattanooga State has a Memorandum of Understanding with TVA that TVA will consider graduates for jobs, and with the first class graduating with associate degrees of applied science in radiation protection technology this May, some students should be landing high quality jobs with TVA in the near future.

“If we look at Clarksville, there’s another great example of this special type of partnership. The state helped foster a relationship between Austin Peay State University and Hemlock, who is going to be a major employer for that region,” Haslam added.

“There are opportunities all across the state to align the needs of businesses, postsecondary institutions, and workers,” Haslam continued. “As governor, I’m going to focus on developing these relationships as a part of my overall effort to create and retain high quality jobs in Tennessee.”

Mayor Haslam is spending Week Three of his three-week, statewide Jobs Tour in East Tennessee, and today is being spent in Bradley, Hamilton, and McMinn counties conducting small business roundtables and meeting with economic development professionals and local business and education leaders. The remainder of the schedule for the East Tennessee swing of the Jobs Tour can be found below.

Bill Haslam is the two-term Mayor of Knoxville, re-elected in 2007 with 87% of the vote. A hardworking, conservative public servant, he led Knoxville to become one of the top ten metropolitan areas for business and expansion, while reducing the city’s debt, tripling the rainy day fund, and bringing property taxes to the lowest rate in 50 years. An executive leader with a proven record of success, he helped grow his family’s small business from 800 employees into one of Tennessee’s largest companies with 14,000 employees. His combination of executive and public service experience makes him uniquely qualified to be Tennessee’s next Governor. Bill is the right person at the right time to lead Tennessee.

Bill and Crissy Haslam have two daughters, Annie and Leigh, and a son, Will, who resides in Knoxville with his wife, Hannah.

To follow Mayor Haslam on his Jobs Tour and submit ideas for how to grow our state’s economy, please visit For more information on Bill Haslam, please visit