economic development

Boyd approved $1M grant to state Senate candidate’s company; Company PAC gave Boyd $5K

Shane Reeves, a Murfreesboro businessman seeking the GOP nomination in state Senate District 14, sent Randy Boyd’s gubernatorial campaign a $5,000 donation a year after Boyd as economic and community development commissioner signed off on a $1 million state grant to Reeves’ company, reports Tennessee Star.

The Star says this has unnamed “political observers” questioning whether Boyd “used his previous office as a platform to prepare a gubernatorial campaign by directing state grants to local officials and businesses who might, and in many cases have, support his run for governor.”

Continue reading

West TN Megasite spurned by Toyota Mazda; Black campaign sees ‘inexcusable loss for our state’

State Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe has confirmed that the Memphis Regional Megasite as been eliminated from consideration for a new Toyota-Mazda manufacturing plant, reports the Jackson Sun. A second, undisclosed company has also rejected the site.

Diane Black’s gubernatorial campaign promptly issued a statement to media declaring the decision indicates a failure to make Tennessee a business-friendly state – an apparent reference to former ECD Commissioner Randy Boyd, one of Black’s opponents in the GOP gubernatorial campaign, and perhaps to Gov. Bill Haslam. Neither are mentioned by name in the statement.

Continue reading

TN September jobless rate 3 percent; all counties below 5 percent

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips announced today that in September 2017, for the first time ever, below 5 percent in every county across the state. This is the second consecutive month rates have declined in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties.   Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

$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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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