Competition fuels Tennessee’s pursuit of new jobs

“Every project today is enormously competitive,” says Commissioner Bob Rolfe, who heads the Tennessee Economic and Community Development Department.

He says many nearby states such as the Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Kentucky are Tennessee’s biggest competitors for companies with new jobs.

“Its something about coming to the south where you have a much more pro-business friendly environment… and lower taxes.” adds the commissioner.

And he says one selling point often heard from new companies coming here is Tennessee’s lack of a personal state income tax.

The commissioner also points to low union participation, the state’s quality of life, and education efforts aimed at preparing a workforce.

When you add or bundle all those assets together, we have a great story to tell,” the commissioner likes to say.

While companies like Amazon coming to urban areas promise thousands of jobs, smaller investment in the state’s rural areas is a priority of Governor Bill Lee.

Commissioner Rolfe says new rural initiatives approved by the governor are on the horizon.

“Two weeks ago our team presented to the governor a couple of those new initiatives,” says Rolfe. “He is not ready to roll them out but I can tell you it is at the top of every conversation I have with him.”

Those new rural initiatives say the commissioner is expected to be unveiled this fall.

Source: WATE, Chris Bundgaard

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 August 23, 2019