Economic development report forecasts strength in our state
by State Rep. Kevin Brooks
Feb 18, 2013 | 391 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As a member of the House Finance Committee, I was especially interested — and obviously quite pleased — by last week’s comments by Bill Hagerty, Tennessee commissioner of Economic and Community Development.

Bill spoke to legislators during our budget hearings.

In his comments, our ECD commissioner presented lawmakers with a positive overview of the success Tennessee has had over the last several months in creating an environment statewide where businesses have the opportunity to grow and thrive.

He provided a variety of examples, and details, about what the current administration is doing to create new jobs in our state. It is interesting to note that since Gov. Bill Haslam’s election, nearly 80,000 new jobs have been created in Tennessee. In addition, large employers such as Nissan and Volkswagen have already announced future expansions in the state.

This is big news for Tennessee, just as it is for every Tennessean who understands the value of a dollar and the importance of establishing a strong partnership with businesses, whether they are existing operations or new members of our economic development community.

With the guidance and support of the Legislature, Hagerty told us the ECD believes the next several years will show even greater strides toward making Tennessee the most successful job-recruiting engine in the entire Southeast region of the United States. When was the last time we heard such a positive opinion spoken publicly about the state of our economy?

In a lighthearted twist, but with a serious perspective, the ECD leader told us, “While I wish the weather were better outside, I think overall things are shining here in Tennessee.”

Not to make too great a use of cliches, but I found the presentation to be “music to my ears.” The truth is, things are picking up in our state and much of it is because of the hard work that your lawmakers — and our legislative team representing Bradley County — are putting into keeping our fiscal affairs a balanced operation in Tennessee. Not everyone can say that, and certainly not everyone in Washington, D.C.

During our House Finance budget hearings, I thanked Commissioner Hagerty for the commitment of the state of Tennessee to not only new industry, but also for our strong commitment to Tennessee’s existing industry. Certainly, we are always grateful for the opportunity to welcome new businesses and fresh faces into the growing economic landscape that our state affords. But we remain cognizant — and we always will remain cognizant — of the invaluable role existing businesses and commercial enterprises have made in keeping Tennessee a progressive and attractive home for our families, who are also dedicated employees, as well as for the current and future viability of our state.

I have joined the rest of our legislative delegation from Bradley County — in the past and present — in pointing to the importance of existing industry. Locally, existing industry and business continue to provide thousands of local jobs for local families right here in Cleveland and Bradley County. As members of your legislative delegation, that’s important to us and we believe it’s one of the many reasons you sent us to Nashville.

Please, do not ever hesitate to contact me with your concerns, questions and opinions about our city, county or state. To keep Cleveland, Bradley County and Tennessee headed on a straight and trusted path toward economic well-being, we must work together. But most importantly, we must communicate in order to best understand one another’s needs and expectations.

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(Editor’s Note: State Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, serves the 24th Legislative District in the Tennessee House of Representatives. He and his wife, Kim, are active in their Cleveland and Bradley County community. Their children attend local schools. Zach is a student at Lee University and Elizabeth attends Cleveland High School).