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Tennessee: How Its Economy Is Built On Innovation

Learn how Tennessee is more than just the sum of its numerous advantages. The state's $300+ billion economy produces cars, guitars, whisky and other products known around the world.

By Frances Pace on October 16, 2015

Tennessee

With its low business costs, prime location, superior transportation infrastructure, and high-quality workforce, Tennessee has created the ideal conditions for business expansion and investment. But Tennessee is more than just the sum of its numerous advantages. The state’s $300+ billion economy produces cars, guitars, whisky and other products known around the world, harnesses powerful research capabilities to create breakthrough health care, life science and technology companies, and provides the environment and ample resources to launch entrepreneurial companies.

Under Gov. Bill Haslam, the state has scored numerous expansion and investment successes that have generated thousands of new announced jobs. The state has launched a number of efforts to support business growth and investment in Tennessee. A new site certification program, Select Tennessee, will help communities across the state prepare available sites to accommodate major projects. The Tennessee Economic and Community Development Department has partnered with Austin Consulting and The Foote Consulting Group on the program, which sets consistent and rigorous standards upon which companies can rely in making critical location decisions.

State of Big Ideas

A major focus of Tennessee’s economic development efforts has been on helping leading-edge companies in innovative industry sectors such as life sciences and energy technology with the support they need to grow and flourish. Tennessee has no shortage of ideas or people behind them dedicated to developing, testing and perfecting new concepts that are transforming markets across all industries, including aerospace, automotive, life sciences and technology.

Nissan is developing the nation’s first all-electric, zero-emission cars, along with the lithium-ion batteries to power them, at its Smyrna assembly plant. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, researchers are teaming up with manufacturers like Volkswagen to develop advanced materials to build the cars of the future. Medical device firms from Memphis to Knoxville are meeting emerging medical needs of developing countries around the globe with the latest surgical tools and orthopedic and wound care products. In Nashville, hospitals and entrepreneurs are working together to pioneer technologies to help clinicians and patients navigate the changing landscape of health care.

Tennessee is enhancing innovation across all sectors with its efforts to grow tech- and knowledge-based startups across the state and enhance early-stage funding for entrepreneurs through initiatives like Launch TN.

Where Ingenuity Flourishes

Companies in Tennessee pride themselves on making unique products that fill a niche not already served in consumer markets. From amphibious vehicles that allow first responders to cross land and water, to portable light towers that can be deployed in emergencies, to bicycles built with titanium to boost speed, products made in Tennessee are clever, creative, and designed with the needs and desires of consumers in mind. They are also in high demand overseas.

A growing group of small and medium-size companies are discovering this to be true as they take their products global to markets from Latin America to Asia. The state is working with companies like these to help them tap into international markets and explore new export opportunities through programs like TNTrade, which guides businesses through the learning curves of selling and distributing products to other countries.

Built With Care

Passion is behind every product that comes out of Tennessee. Workers take extra time and care to fashion items to the greatest degree of perfection, and their artistry shows. From food brands to firearms, products possess an aesthetic that makes them pleasing to taste, touch, hold and handle. Manufacturing is an art form, and much of what is produced throughout the state is still infused with a handcrafted touch. This sense of craftsmanship and artisan strength within the workforce is unique to the state and recognized the world over.

Not only that, but companies making products in Tennessee are focused on more than just turning a profit. They design their products with a global vision and strive to help, uplift and inspire through their creations. Music is one of the state’s biggest exports, along with a rising roster of videos, films and television productions. So are lifesaving medicines, transformative technologies and a long list of other products that make a lasting impact on those who receive them. World-renowned names like Nissan, Volkswagen, GM, Bridgestone, Gibson Guitar, Duracell, Whirlpool, Jack Daniel’s are just a few of the brands that bear the Made in Tennessee label. These companies and many others are setting a standard of excellence that is drawing more top manufacturers like Beretta, Hankook Tire and others to the state to join in the proud tradition of the Tennessee brand.

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