economic development

TN 3.3% unemployment rate is lowest in Southeast

News release from Department of Labor and Workforce Development

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) Commissioner Burns Phillips announces a preliminary unemployment rate of 3.3 percent for August, declining one-tenth of a percent from the previous month. This marks an all-time low for the statewide unemployment rate and August is the seventh consecutive month Tennessee has seen a decline in the statistic.

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$2.5B in annual TN business subsidies, outcomes often unknown

Tennessee state and local governments provide more than $2.5 billion in subsidies such as grants, tax breaks and tax credits to businesses each year, but there’s often little public information provided on whether the taxpayer money is working to produce promised jobs.

That’s the bottom line of reporting by the state’s four largest newspapers  — The Tennessean, The Commercial Appeal, Knoxville News Sentinel and (Chattanooga) Times Free Press — published this weekend.

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New U.S. Census data: West TN population shrinking

If West Tennessee were a state unto itself, it would be shrinking, reports WREG TV of Memphis after a review of recent U.S. Census estimates.

The estimates show that the part of the state west of the Tennessee River, including Memphis and Shelby County, lost nearly 1,200 residents between 2010 and 2016, leaving a total population of just over 1.56 million. Of the 21 counties in the region, 15 experienced declines.

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With $700K spent, new Reelfoot Lake State Park building may be torn down rather than finished

State officials are tentatively planning to demolish an interpretative visitors center that has been under construction at Reelfoot Lake State Park rather than complete it, reports the Commercial Appeal. That comes 18 months after a ceremonial groundbreaking, expenditure of up to $700,000 in taxpayer dollars and an audit indicating possible bidding improprieties in awarding a construction contract.

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Latest ECD incentives: $28M to Finnish tire maker, $22M to South Korean appliance firm

The state of Tennessee is providing a $28.42 million grant to a Finnish tire manufacturer and grant of $22.3 million to a South Korean appliance manufacturer to support the companies opening of new facilities within the state, reports the Times Free Press.

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Florida’s governor trying to ‘poach jobs’ from Tennessee?

The Tampa Bay Times questions whether Florida Gov. Rick Scott is “breaking one of his cardinal rules” with a trip to Nashville aimed at convincing Tennessee companies to relocate into the Sunshine State. His effort to “poach jobs from the Volunteer State” follows similar past trips to California, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and New York – all states with Democratic governors.

Tennessee, as the Times notes, has a Republican governor – Bill Haslam.

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U.S. House committee bucks Trump budget plan, provides $130M to Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission, targeted for elimination in President Donald Trump’s March budget blueprint,  instead would receive $130 million in new funding for the coming year under a proposal winning approval of a key U.S. House committee, reports the Johnson City Press.

A representative from the Appalachian Regional Commission said the funding allocated by the House Appropriations Committee is in step with the amount the agency would typically receive from the federal government.

Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., led 13 Republican representatives in writing a letter to the chairman and the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Water to urge them to fund the commission.

“The ARC is not a typical federal agency,” the letter read. “It is a true commission.”

… “We understand the budgetary constraints the subcommittee is facing,” the representatives said in the letter. “We believe this is an important partnership with the states that should be maintained and supported with robust funding.”

… “I will continue working to ensure adequate funding for ARC is included in FY18,” Roe said in a statement emailed to the Press

New ECD initiative: Build a call center, hoping jobs will come to TN’s most economically-distressed county

News release from Department of Economic and Community Development

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) announced today the launch of an open search for a company to establish operations in Hancock County as part of Project 95, a new initiative designed to bring resources from multiple state agencies to bear on Tennessee’s most economically distressed county.

Beginning with Hancock County, Project 95 is part of TNECD’s long-term strategy to eliminate all federally designated distressed counties across Tennessee by 2025.

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Haslam headed to Europe for a week

News release from Department of Economic and Community Development

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe will travel to Europe from June 26 to June 30 for an economic development trip designed to strengthen ties with European businesses and increase foreign direct investment (FDI) in Tennessee.

During the weeklong trip, Haslam and Rolfe will pitch Tennessee’s advantages to a number of European businesses interested in establishing operations in the Southeast U.S. The trip will include stops in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Germany.

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Commission Trump wants to abolish announces $15.7M in grants to help coal miners losing jobs

The Appalachian Regional Commission, which would be abolished under President Trump’s proposed federal budget for the coming year, announced almost $16 million in grants intended to help communities losing jobs in the coal industry in seven states, including Tennessee.
The only Tennessee grant is $500,000 for Knoxville-based LaunchTN for its Entrepreneurial Education and Workforce Development project. The Tennessee startup support initiative will target the coal-impacted counties of Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Cumberland, Fentress, Grundy, Marion, Morgan, Scott and Sequatchie. A list of the projects is HERE. The ARC press release is below.
 

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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