Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner (ECD) Bill Hagerty today announced the Jobs4TN plan, which lays out the administration's economic development strategy resulting from a top-to-bottom review of the department. The governor's Jobs4TN plan focuses on:
* Prioritizing the strategic recruitment of target industries;
* Assisting existing Tennessee businesses in expansions and remaining competitive;
* Supporting regional and rural economic development strategies;
* As well as 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," Haslam said. "Our Jobs4TN 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 governor's 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.
In 2010 expansion of existing business accounted for nearly 86 percent of new jobs created in Tennessee. The state will focus on helping existing businesses expand and remain competitive through a targeted outreach program. A new "existing business toolkit" of incentives and resources will be created for 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 select regional directors to run each "jobs base camp" over the next 30 to 45 days.
A key function of these jobs base camps will be reaching out to rural counties to incorporate them into broader regional economic development strategies that leverage existing resources and maximize the assets of rural communities. A newly-created position of assistant commissioner of Rural Development will help lead this effort.
Investing in innovation: At the Tennessee Next Conference on May 5 in Nashville, Haslam will detail a major statewide innovation initiative focusing on better coordination of innovation activities across the state, increasing technology transfer and commercialization, promoting entrepreneurship and enhancing Tennessee companies' access to early-stage capital.
Reducing business regulation: Haslam has asked ECD to lead a review of federal and state business regulations. Over the coming months, ECD will work with existing Tennessee businesses, business advocacy groups and state agencies to identify 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 plan, ECD will undergo a significant reorganization that will result in a new senior leadership team as well as a 35 percent reduction in staff.
"In an age of limited resources, Tennessee taxpayers want the state to focus on those activities that will result in a substantial return-on-investment," said Hagerty. "ECD's reorganization will align the department's resources with the governor's Jobs4TN plan while simultaneously eliminating functions that the state should no longer be performing."
ECD is the first state agency to complete the top-to-bottom review process. Haslam has asked every agency in state government to complete a top-to-bottom review to examine each department's efficiency and effectiveness.
Jobs4TN is another component of the governor's comprehensive jobs plan to support and encourage investment of new business and existing business in Tennessee. His 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 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.