Haslam quip to Hagerty: Make Japanese crane TN official state bird

Bill Hagerty, former commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development and now U.S. Ambassador to Japan, says Gov. Bill Haslam once joked about replacing the mockingbird with the crane as Tennessee’s official state bird, reports WKRN. The red-crowned crane is the official national bird of Japan.

“When I worked for him, he charged me with a small task,” Hagerty told the crowd at the dedication of the building that will house 1700 workers. “He said he wanted me to make the crane the state bird of Tennessee.”

It got plenty of laughs, but jokes aside, the former state economic development commissioner knows how important Japan is for the country and Tennessee in his new role as U.S. Ambassador to the country.

Hagerty told the Bridgestone crowd this month how he gets his directions now right from the top.

“I was with the president the other day in the Oval Office and he pointed out to me that this is a critical relationship, and we have to make it even deeper from an economic standpoint and we are doing that,” added the ambassador, who is a Middle Tennessee native.

Along with Bridgestone and Nissan leading the way, Japanese investments mean 51-thousand jobs in Tennessee according to the state’s Economic and Community Development department.

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