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VOL. 35 | NO. 15 | Friday, April 15, 2011




Haslam refocuses economic development, lays off 60

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NASHVILLE (AP) — Sixty employees will be laid off at the state Department of Economic and Community Development as part of an overhaul of the agency's mission, Gov. Bill Haslam announced Wednesday.

Haslam said an interview with The Associated Press that an examination of the department's operations resulted in the decision to eliminate services that assist local governments with subdivision plans.

Bigger cities and counties don't use the services, and smaller ones don't need them because they aren't growing fast enough, Haslam said.

"I don't know why the state should be helping with subdivision plans," he said.

Democrats were quick to criticize Haslam's decision to eliminate positions at the agency tasked with creating jobs in Tennessee.

"I think one of the first things we can do to create jobs is to not lay people off," said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville.

Turner also noted the state's success under former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen in attracting large investors like Volkswagen, Hemlock Semiconductor and Wacker Chemie.

"Those all created jobs," he said.

Haslam said the department will formalize nine regional offices dubbed "jobs base camps," and hire directors for each by next month.

The governor's review of jobs created in Tennessee over the last decade indicate that only 1.2 percent came from out-of-state businesses, even though economic development officials spending about half their "focus and energy" seeking to attract those investments.

The governor said he and ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty will step up efforts to encourage the state's 100 largest employers to reinvest in the state.

"We're going to have a heightened focus on our existing state businesses, with the idea that that's where jobs are created," he said.

The Haslam administration is asking lawmakers to pass legislation to impose caps on damages awarded in lawsuits against businesses on arguments that it will make the state more competitive among companies deciding where to invest.

The governor said his justification for the lawsuits measure doesn't change given the statistics that out-of-state businesses don't create as many jobs as ones already operating in Tennessee.

Companies like Memphis-based FedEx or Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas are "building a lot all over the place, all the time," he said, and changing the rules on lawsuit judgments could encourage them to locate their next project in Tennessee.

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TNLedger.com Knoxville Editon
RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0