Expanding Tennessee’s economy and creating new jobs must be a priority for the legislature. Almost 11% of Tennesseans are currently unemployed, which has a real impact on our families and communities. If we are to come out of the current economic downturn positioned for success, Tennessee must consistently focus on the jobs of the future. A few of Jeff’s ideas for getting Tennesseans back to work are:
Health Information Technology: Middle Tennessee is poised to emerge as a Silicon Valley of Health Information Technology. Nashville is already the capital of health care entrepreneurship and has the talent and ideas to lead a revolution towards more effective and efficient health care provision. The State should partner with our businesses and universities to build the essential infrastructure, work force and information sources. Though governmental facilitation is necessary, any partnership must be based on government staying out of the way to allow the private sector to drive innovation.
Energy-Efficient Vehicle Production: Tennessee is leading the way in automotive innovation. Recently, Nissan received a $1.6 billion grant from the federal government to produce electric cars at its Smyrna facility. This new vehicle fleet will create jobs in Tennessee, improve air quality, and reduce the amount Tennesseans spend on fuel. The State should work with Nissan, Volkswagen, and others to ensure Tennessee is at the vanguard in the production of this new generation of automobiles.
Infrastructure Investment: Even in the midst of the most recent economic downturn, Governor Bredesen has shown a deep commitment to investing in traditional and high-tech infrastructure. Infrastructure development must remain a priority for Tennessee’s economy and tax base to grow. Enhancing mass transit in Middle Tennessee, creating regional megasites, and investing in fiber and broadband technology are critical to the creation of 21st century jobs in Tennessee.
Jobs Tax Credits: As Tennessee’s revenue situation improves, the State should utilize and expand franchise and excise tax credits as an incentive for new and growing businesses that are creating jobs in Tennessee.
Welcoming Environment to Investment: As Tennessee’s economy continues to grow, it is important to open our doors to outside businesses that will create local jobs and help stimulate our local economy. Rather than alienating foreign investors, we should make the process an inviting one to encourage such job-creators to remain in Tennessee.
Small Businesses: Tennessee’s small businesses and entrepreneurs are not only the backbone of our local economy but also a significant driver of the diversity and creative growth that makes our state so special. Our legislature should work hard to strengthen our infrastructure and encourage a diversification of industry in order to create a business-friendly environment that will continue to fuel Tennessee’s recovery.