Even more remarkable was the unemployment rates in all 95 counties dipped below 5 percent for the first time ever. WeEre proud of these numbers for Tennessee, but even more proud for what these numbers mean for the hard-working people of our state.
When the unemployment rate is low and job growth is high, it means that Tennesseans like Ricky, who works for Smith & Nephew in Memphis, can have high-quality jobs and better plan for the future. The story of Tennesseers low unemployment rate is really the story of Tennesseans who are part of our state’s workforce.
October saw thousands of new jobs come to Tennessee from companies across the world, solidifying the Volunteer State’s place as one of the top destinations in the United States for direct foreign investment.
Earlier this month, I traveled to Japan and South Korea with Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe to meet with leaders of companies looking to invest business in the Southeast. When we pitch the benefits of locating operations in Tennessee, itss clear that our state has become a leader in the Southeast for attracting foreign companies to invest in our workforce. While in Tokyo, Rolfe and I visited with an old friend who certainly knows what Tennessee has to offer, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty, who led the Department of Economic and Community Development during my first term.
The trip also gave us a chance to meet with and thank the companies that are already investing in Tennessee. We toured the DENSO headquarters in Kariya, Japan only a few days after announcing the company would be investing $1 billion and 1,000 jobs in Blount County. Maryville will now be home to DENSOss primary manufacturing center in North America. We also visited with leaders from Hankook Tire Co. in Seoul, South Korea. The following week, we welcomed Hankook executives in Clarksville to celebrate the grand opening of the companyss manufacturing facility, which is bringing 1,800 new jobs to Middle Tennessee.
On Oct. 5, we announced German manufacturer Hörmann would be bringing 200 jobs and a $64 million investment the Sparta area. Announcements like this demonstrate that Tennessee is making the case to bring new business here, and as companies invest in Tennessee, our state is seeing a return on those investments.
Other highlights from October include:
• Last week, U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker joined me at the Economic and Community Development Governorss Conference in Gatlinburg. They both have a long history of helping to transform our state and making Tennessee the economic leader that it is today.
• A week ago, I met some of the inspirational graduates of the Dobyns-Bennett High School Transition School to Work program, which connects students with disabilities to jobs in the local area. I toured Food City in Kingsport where Caleb Peters, a graduate of the program who works at the grocery store, presented me with the Employment First Task Force report. The task force is focused on removing barriers to employment for those with disabilities and ensuring that any Tennessean who wants to be part of our statess workforce has that opportunity.
• Crissy and I joined Commissioner John Dreyzehner in Jackson earlier this month for the fall tradition of flu shots. As I do every year, I encourage all Tennesseans to head into the annual influenza season with the protection of a flu shot.
• We made a push earlier this month to recruit volunteers to serve as Tennessee Promise mentors. Working with a Tennessee Promise student as he or she begins her first year of college is a rewarding experience and one that doesnst require a major time commitment. I hope youtll join the thousands of mentors who have already volunteered and sign up to be a part of Tennessee Promise.
Thank you for your interest in our work. If you have any feedback or just want to be in touch, email me at [email protected]
Bill Haslam is Republican governor of Tennessee.