Gov. Bill Haslam’s Monthly Column
We now have the lowest recorded unemployment rate in Tennessee history – 3 percent.
And the latest figures, from September, mark the second consecutive month rates have declined in every one of our state’s 95 counties.
Our comprehensive approach to attracting businesses to either locate or expand here are one of the reasons Tennessee has its lowest unemployment rate since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking such numbers in 1976.
When we took office in 2011, we made workforce development one of our highest priorities, and we believe the policies we have steadily pursued are why we have record low unemployment now.
Recently, we have celebrated a lot of news regarding foreign investment, which has played a big role in our success.
DENSO, with its global headquarters in Japan, this month announced a $1 billion investment to expand its operation in Maryville. The company’s decision will create 1,000 new jobs. DENSO, which makes starters, alternators and a wide range of electronic components for the automotive industry, has been in Tennessee for over 30 years, so its expansion says a lot about its confidence in our state.
Hankook Tire, based in South Korea, held its grand opening in Clarksville this month for its first North American production plant. Hankook’s plant in Montgomery County will create 1,800 jobs. Along with its North American headquarters in Nashville, that represents 2,000 jobs for our state.
These companies, and others like them, are why Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and I visited Asia this month. The trip was designed to strengthen ties we already have with Asian businesses and an attempt to build on that momentum by attracting others.
On the trip we were grateful to U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty, a former commissioner of economic and community development for Tennessee, for hosting a reception for Tennessee and over 100 Japanese companies. And while we were in Japan we were able to meet with our partners from DENSO and thank them again for their recent investment.
Tennessee led the nation in job creation from foreign direct investment in 2013 and 2015, according to IBM-PLI’s Global Location Trends report. So our recent accomplishments in seeking foreign investments are being recognized by others.
Of course, Asia is not the only part of the world we are interested in when seeking foreign investment. Early this month, we celebrated the announcement in Sparta that Hormann, which is headquartered in Germany, will invest nearly $64 million to establish a manufacturing facility in White County and is expected to create 200 well-paying jobs. Workers at the 350,000-square-foot facility will make residential and commercial garage doors, serving customers across North America. It shows the value of a global push for investment in Tennessee. In fact, we made an economic development trip to Germany last year.
We have been able to establish strong, lengthy relationships with global companies, and once those relationships have been established we have seen them thrive. Ultimately, this means good jobs for Tennesseans.
We have enjoyed our relationships with companies from around the world, and we plan to continue to build on that momentum.