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John Thompson

Elizabethton Bureau Chief
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State economic official praises Tennessee performance

March 12th, 2014 9:07 pm by John Thompson

State economic official praises Tennessee performance

Bill Hagerty

ELIZABETHTON — Local government leaders and economic development officials got to hear the state’s good economic news during a business roundtable meeting at the Elizabethton Airport on Wednesday.

Bill Hagerty, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, and several of his key staff members discussed the state’s economic performance and the efforts to help the state’s rural counties participate in the growth.

Hagerty told the local leaders that Tennessee has had a net growth of 155,000 jobs during the three years under Gov. Bill Haslam. He said that was the sixth best performance in the nation and is the best among states that are not energy producers. But Hagerty said it was not just the numbers but the quality of the jobs, with a 10 percent increase in personal income growth.

Hagerty said the state’s performance is nationally recognized. The latest recognition has come from Business Facilities magazine, which declared Tennessee the “2013 State of the Year.”

The commissioner said some macroeconomic factors are also driving the state’s performance. Among them is the price of a barrel of oil, which has increased from $35 to over $100. He said that makes logistics more and more important and “no state is better (logistically) than Tennessee.”

He said the state is also among the best in the nation in fiscal responsibility. He said the state has the lowest public debt per capita. Hagerty said fiscal responsibility is not only a concern of businesses in the United States, but also globally, especially in the Mediterranean region, because there is concern the governments will place their economic burdens on the backs of businesses.

Hagerty said Tennessee’s sound fiscal position is a compliment to both Republican and Democratic governors, who have maintained sound economic policies for many years.

He said the Haslam administration has done something that is very unusual for government. The administration is helping develop a long term investment program, called Launch Tennessee. The program is designed to encourage and support small entrepreneurs.

Hagerty said all the good economic news about Tennessee has led to international interest in the state. The state has acted on the momentum by establishing trade offices in Mexico, the United Kingdom, the European Union and China.

While there have been a lot of economic success stories across Tennessee, many rural parts of the state have lagged behind. Hagerty said his department is working to improve rural development through several programs.

These include the Three Star program, which assists communities in strengthening their economic development, ensuring responsible fiscal management and assisting with local public safety, health and education efforts. Another program is Select Tennessee, which assists communities in preparing sites for investment and job creation. 

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