Tuesday, July 22, 2014 · 7:37 p.m.
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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty released the department’s 2011 annual report Tuesday. Earlier this year, Haslam spoke to local business leaders about his jobs plan. (Photo: Staff)

State leaders released a report Tuesday that highlighted the year’s economic and community development progress.

Department of Economic and Community Development projects and private sector growth accounted for 28,535 new jobs across the state and more than $4 billion in investment, according to a news release.

In 2011, job creation in Tennessee hit its highest mark in the last five years, according to the release.

“Making Tennessee the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high-quality jobs continues to be a top priority for this administration,” Gov. Bill Haslam said in a prepared statement. “Our Jobs4TN plan is working.”

That plan includes focusing on regionalism, existing businesses and key clusters, in addition to attracting new business to Tennessee, he also said.

“I am convinced that Tennessee can compete with anyone when it comes to attracting jobs,” he said.

State leaders identified The Company Lab as one of the state’s nine regional accelerators that are promoting entrepreneurship in the area as part of the Jobs4TN plan.

The accelerators are part of a $50 million investment in innovation through the INCITE program.

“Tennessee transformed its economic development model in 2011, applying solid business principles to set the stage for long-term growth,” Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty said.  

The Department of Economic and Community Development underwent a review aimed at more efficient operations and saw a “significant realignment of departmental resources accompanied by a reduction in overall staff size by more than 40 percent,” according to a news release.

The department was also able to lower the average cost of incentives per new job created compared to the previous decade.  

In 2011, the average incentive cost per job was $2,640, compared to $5,586 for the years 2002-2010, a reduction of more than 50 percent.

According to the Department of Economic and Community Development, key results since implementing the Jobs4TN plan include:
 
—Haslam, Hagerty and Economic and Community Development staff traveled the state to meet with more than 2,000 companies and more than 700 economic development stakeholders.

—Each jobs base camp worked with local stakeholders to complete a strategic plan for their region.

—Economic and Community Development partnered with the Entrepreneur Center in Nashville to make Tennessee the second state in the nation to start a state-level version of the Startup America Partnership, resulting in Startup Tennessee, a public-private partnership designed to connect and align entrepreneurial efforts across the state.

—Nine Regional Business Accelerators were selected in each jobs base camp to assist area entrepreneurs as they develop business plans and launch companies that have the potential to create new jobs.

—The INCITE Co-Investment Fund was established to increase access to seed-, early- and expansion-stage capital for Tennessee businesses, using $30 million in federal funds from the State Small Business Credit Initiative.

—Economic and Community Development leaders authored the Regulatory Reform Report, summarizing an ECD-led review of federal and state regulations that negatively impact businesses and identifying possible obstacles to new investment.

—The challenges of job creation in rural Tennessee were addressed through new programs that included a statewide site certification program, a partnership with TVA to provide best practices regional training for economic development professionals and a digital factory pilot to create work-at-home business services opportunities.

—The TNTrade program was launched to boost Tennessee exports, and it consists of two primary components: the Market Access Program and a 2012 trade mission to China and South Korea focused on medical device manufacturers.

To read more or download a copy of ECD’s 2011 annual report, click here.

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