When it comes to economic development, Governor Bill Lee says his role as Tennessee’s chief executive is the answer to the question about how the state’s efforts and policies are changing people’s lives.
“We want to create an environment where jobs are created and companies expand,” he told more than 500 people who crowded into the ballroom of the DoubleTree Hotel in Downtown Nashville on Tuesday for a luncheon that kicked-off the 108th annual meeting of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Speaking without notes and with the genuine passion that has come to define the first-time elected official, Lee said that Tennessee’s ranking as the nation’s best fiscally managed state is important to business leaders with whom he meets, whether in foreign nations or other states. He added that Tennessee’s reputation for low taxes, low debt and a robust Rainy Day fund permits investments in areas that make a difference when it comes to job growth.
One topic always on the top of his mind was again emphasized in the speech.
“We are going to develop the workforce in Tennessee that causes companies to want to create jobs here,” the Governor said. He talked about a number on initiatives in that regard including his GIVE program, officially known as the “Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education,” that prioritizes learning opportunities in rural counties and enhances career and technical education statewide.
As noted in this teknovation.biz article from December, the Greater Knoxville region won three of the 28 inaugural GIVE awards with two involving Pellissippi State Community College, the only double recipient, and another awarded to the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) – Knoxville.
While much of the coverage of the Governor’s priorities has been focused on rural areas rather than those classified as urban, he was clear to emphasize that “this is not an either or (situation). We can do both,” Lee said in emphasizing the need to also continue the growth in the state’s more urban communities. In that regard, he mentioned a $100 million proposal to awards grants to every county and every municipality with broad “discretion in how it (the funding) is used” for economic development purposes.
“It’s every county and every municipality,” he reiterated.