Craig’s Corner – 12.13.11

Craig’s Corner – 12.13.11

Posted: Friday, December 16, 2011 10:22 am
By: Craig Fitzhugh, House Minority Leader

As we get ready for the second session of the 107th General Assembly, I am reminded each day the most important issue we face in Nashville is getting people back to work.
So while some of my colleagues focus on divisive, partisan issues, I intend to keep my focus on putting Tennesseans back to work. With that in mind, I want to talk about the last two pieces of legislation in my Jobs Package.
The Expanding & Attracting Industry Act, which is being introduced by my Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, will help existing Tennessee employers grow within the state. When our companies get ready to expand, Tennessee should provide them with a central database of available industrial properties.
While the state does maintain a website with some of this information, our Tennessee Jobs Tour revealed that the database was at best incomplete. Most companies told us it was out of date and generally unhelpful.
So much so, that one solar company was seriously considering expanding to South Carolina, which has a much better database of industrial real estate.
The Expanding & Attracting Industry Act would fix this problem by creating a comprehensive listing of all available industrial properties in Tennessee. This would also help real estate firms push their commercial properties on a larger scale, making it a win for the private and public sector. Passing this bill will help keep and grow jobs in our state.
On our Tennessee Jobs Tour, employers told us of the need for more highly-skilled workers to fill jobs they had available. These highly-skilled jobs included plumbers, welders, electricians, mechanics, HVAC technicians and high-end maintenance workers.  
These are skills we once taught in vocational education, but today have all too often been pushed aside. This is why I am introducing the Back to Work Program. In Tennessee, our Technology Centers can provide the needed training for all the highly-skilled jobs mentioned above.
The problem they face, however, is a lack of space and outdated equipment. Under the Back to Work Program, the state would allocate a one-time $15 million dollar fund to the Tennessee Technology Centers.
With this one-time money, centers could expand their programming to more students and update their training equipment. We have done this once before with positive results and I hope my colleagues will join me in doing it again during this difficult economic time.  
As a side note, I want to thank everyone who joined me at the first annual Craig’s Chili Supper in Ripley last week. We collected a great number of toys for the Carl Perkins Center and I know they appreciate your help.
A special thanks to the Ripley Elementary School cafeteria for providing the chili and the volunteers at the Carl Perkins Center for serving it that night.
I am continually overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of our community.
As always, if you have any questions, please contact my legislative office at (615) 741-2134. Have a great week!

WCP 12.13.11

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