Foreign firms invested $1.5B in TN in 2018

A new report from MTSU’s Business and Economic Research Center reveals that foreign firms invested more than $1.5 billion in Tennessee in 2018.

The largest single investment was Volkswagen’s $340 million launch of the Atlas SUV assembly line at its plant in Chattanooga. Continued investment from Japan continued to dominate overall, said report author Steven Livingston, BERC associate director and a professor of political science and international relations at Middle Tennessee State University.

It’s the fourth time in five years foreign investment has reached or exceeded the $1.5 billion mark, according to the “Global Commerce” report.

“Tennessee has been one of the most successful states in attracting foreign investment in recent years, and this trend continued in 2018,” Livingston said in a news release.

Nidec, which builds electric motors at its Lexington plant in West Tennessee, was second with a $301 million expansion. The company supplies motors for several applications, including food and beverage equipment, agriculture, pool and spa and water systems.

Tennessee is home to nearly 1,000 foreign companies. Japan operates 190 businesses here, followed by the United Kingdom and Germany, with 118 and 115, respectively.

Five Japanese firms poured $632 million into the state’s economy, according to the report.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by Mealand Ragland-Hudgins

The East Tennessee Economic Development Agency markets and recruits business for the 15 counties in the greater Knoxville-Oak Ridge region of East Tennessee. Visit

Published March 22, 2019