On the day General Motors formally launched production of its Ecotec engine in Spring Hill, Gov. Bill Haslam today joined his peers from Michigan, Missouri and Illinois to launch the National Governors Auto Caucus, a group being supported by the National Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers. The four governors say they will look to be a unified voice for the continued development of the U.S. auto sector. Their states employ a combined 2.1 million people in auto-related jobs.
Councilman Charlie Tygard wants to cut by a third the $300,000 payment Metro makes annually to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce's main economic development initiative. Tygard has introduced a bill that would link Metro's check to the contributions made to Partnership 2020 by suburban counties.
“It just seems to me that the contribution for Davidson is skewed on our taxpayers versus the expectations of the surrounding counties,” Tygard told The City Paper, adding that he filed the bill to at least begin that discussion.
There's no denying that Middle Tennessee's IT community has a buzz like never before. Networking groups are gaining traction, entrepreneurial ventures are sprouting left and right and various recent events have attracted Googlephiles and those hungry for hackathons. Pub like this Fast Company piece doesn't hurt, either.
So when the Nashville Technology Council's quarterly report on area tech job openings showed a big drop — 17 percent from early this year and 35 percent from last summer — we scratched our heads and called NTC chief Liza Lowery Massey for some perspective.
There's no simple answer that explains the drop, Massey said. Macroeconomic issues definitely play a role — job growth has slowed again nationally and regionally in recent months — while this fall's election has put on hold a lot of people's plans. On top of that, the recent Supreme Court ruling on health care reform may have some of our biggest corporate names treading water as they wait to see how rules and regulations will shake out.
Another factor to consider is that, as efforts by the NTC and others to build a tighter tech community gain a foothold, a lot of hiring activity is becoming more informal and moving away from the job boards that make up the NTC's survey.
One of the positives Massey noted in the NTC's numbers: Two firms outside of health care — law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw & Whitman and logistics giant OHL — showed up among the top companies looking to fill spots. Combine that trend with the other drivers in the local tech scene and things look set to get better, especially once the macro clouds dissipate.
With less than two months until they need to submit a grant application to the Federal Transit Administration, members of Mayor Karl Dean's administration and other backers of Nashville's planned bus rapid transit line have been out drumming up support. Joey Garrison writes that they also will soon have to present a plan for paying the project's $174 million price tag.
“It’s the idea of value-capture,” said Doug Tennant, vice president of URS Corp., a San Francisco-based engineering firm with a Franklin office, which MTA has contracted with on the BRT project. “If we went out there and created a new street and streetscape for West End Avenue, and created a better West End Avenue, it would enhance property values along that corridor. If you own a restaurant there, and I create a nicer environment, suddenly your property gets enhanced.”
For the third year in a row, Tennessee’s transportation system ranks as one of the best in the nation, according to CNBC 2012 study “America’s Top States for Business.”
The report notes Tennessee ranks fourth-best in the U.S. in the category of transportation and infrastructure and is the only state topping the list that has no transportation debt.
Relatedly, economic development publication Business Facilities in its annual 2012 “State Rankings Report” has named Tennessee No. 1 in the nation for automotive manufacturing strength, also for a third consecutive year.
As to the CNBC ranking, many states carry transportation debt and must allocate a large portion of their funds to interest payments, the study notes.
“This is significant as we are the only top-ranked state without any transportation debt,” Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer said in a release. “The next state on the list without debt was ranked 19th. Tennessee is a ‘pay as you go’ state and TDOT will continue to do our part in upholding Gov. Haslam’s vision of running an effective and efficient government.”
The CNBC report scored all 50 states on 40 measures of competitiveness, including the vitality of each state’s transportation system. Tennessee also ranked well in the categories of business friendliness and cost of living. This is the sixth year the news network has performed the study.
Regarding the Business Facilities report, Tennessee earned additional top 10 honors for economic growth potential, job growth, business and education climate, transportation infrastructure, data center hubs and Race to the Top.
“Our strategic focus on the automotive sector has yielded a substantial return for Tennessee and created a magnet for growth, as Tennessee’s many strategic advantages make our state the most compelling location for business expansions and relocations in the U.S.,” Bill Hagerty, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner, said in a release.
Nashville-based automotive suppliers Gayle Technologies and Quality Filtration and Woodbury's Global Industrial Components will next week join four of their peers from around the state on a state-sponsored trade mission to the PAACE Automechanika trade show in Mexico City. Check out the details here.
Middle Tennessee's efforts to fill its shortage of IT workers — 1,200 at last count — is getting some priceless national pub courtesy of Fast Company's Alissa Walker. Included in the piece is a challenge for local executives from local tech entrepreneur Nicholas Holland about changing the ways they run their businesses. His message: Let go of the reins and focus more on results.
"Right now, there's a lack of resources so everyone is trying to entice and incentivize the same tech pool," he says. "Larger firms, especially in Nashville, like healthcare firms have the ability to throw a lot of money at the problem, but many workers are looking for other things like a fuller career path, or an ecosystem that supports their personal lives."
HT: Matt Largen
State officials are reworking their FastTrack incentives contract langauge to include the option of recovering money from companies who don't follow through on plans and promises to create a certain number of jobs. Andrea Zelinski at TNReport has the details.
“It has taken us the better part of the last 18 months – obviously with a lot of other things going on – to work through the process of determining what legal precedent and black letter law would allow,” he said.