A Note from Gov. Bill Haslam

A Note from Gov. Bill Haslam

Posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 8:01 pm
By: Gov. Bill Haslam, Special to The Press

Recently, I joined Economic and Community Development (ECD) Commissioner Bill Hagerty in traveling the state to introduce our Jobs4TN plan, this administration’s strategy for attracting, growing and creating new jobs in Tennessee.  
Jobs4TN focuses on prioritizing the strategic recruitment of target cluster industries and assisting existing Tennessee businesses in expansions and competitiveness, supporting regional and rural economic development strategies, investing in innovation and reducing business regulation.
My top priority is for Tennessee to be the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs, and this plan is a blueprint for doing just that.  By leveraging our existing assets in each region, we will be able to attract new businesses to the state while helping our existing businesses expand and remain competitive.  
We will also be making significant investments in innovation to position Tennessee as a national leader well into the future.
The Jobs4TN plan was developed over a 45-day period and involved interviews with more than 300 stakeholders, community leaders, and national experts as well as through seven roundtables across the state.  
The plan includes four key strategies:
Prioritizing target clusters and existing industries.  Tennessee will focus its recruitment efforts on six target clusters in which the state has a clear competitive advantage: automotive; chemicals and plastics; transportation, logistics and distribution services; business services; healthcare; advanced manufacturing and energy technologies.
Economic research suggests the ability to develop clusters of related industries within a state or region will be increasingly important to economic competitiveness in the 21st century. In addition, the state will focus on helping existing businesses expand and remain competitive through a targeted outreach program. An “existing business toolkit” of incentives and resources will also be available to Tennessee companies.
Establishing regional “jobs base camps” across the state. ECD will fundamentally restructure its field staff to establish a “jobs base camp” in each of nine regions across the state.  Each base camp will work with local partners to develop and/or revise a regional economic develop plan and align existing federal and state resources around that plan.  ECD will hire regional directors to run each “jobs base camp” over the next 30 to 45 days.  A key component of these jobs base camps will be to reach out to rural communities and integrate them into regional plans and strategies to leverage existing resources and maximize the potential of rural opportunities.  A newly created position of assistant commissioner for Rural Development will lead this effort.
Investing in innovation. In early May, we introduced the INCITE initiative focusing on innovation, commercialization, investment, technology and entrepreneurship.  The initiative’s goal is to raise Tennessee’s profile in innovation-based economic development and drive growth in the creation of knowledge-based jobs.
Reducing business regulation.  I have asked ECD to lead a review of federal and business regulations.  Over the coming months, ECD will survey existing Tennessee businesses, business advocacy groups and state agencies about federal and state laws and regulations inhibiting job growth.  After performing a cost-benefit analysis of regulations identified as burdensome, ECD will present recommendations to the governor and the state’s congressional delegation in Fall 2011.
To implement the overall plan, the department is going through a significant reorganization with a new senior leadership team as well as a 35 percent reduction in staff.
ECD is the first state agency to complete this top-to-bottom review process.
I have asked every agency in state government to complete this process to examine each department’s efficiency and effectiveness.
Jobs4TN is another component of my administration’s comprehensive jobs plan to support and encourage investment of new business and existing business in Tennessee.  
Our jobs plan also includes education reform initiatives that focus on children in the classroom and a well-educated, quality workforce in Tennessee, which is the most important long-term strategy for successful economic development.  Another piece of the plan is ensuring a business-friendly environment in Tennessee that is strengthened through less cumbersome rules and regulations on business along with tort reform to curb lawsuits and provide certainty around corporate legal issues.  
 For more information on the Jobs4TN plan and the department’s top-to-bottom review, please visit www.tn.gov/ecd <http://www.tn.gov/ecd> , and as always, if you have any questions or comments about this issue or any other, please email me at bill.haslam@tn.gov.
 wcp 5/24/11

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