On April 21, 2011, Governor Bill Haslam and ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty announced the Jobs4TN plan, laying out the administration's economic development strategy. The new approach to job creation is the result of a 45-day top-to-bottom review of the department and involved interviews with more than 300 stakeholders, community leaders, and national experts as well as feedback gathered from seven roundtables across the state.
Jobs4TN is the blueprint for making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs, and the plan includes four key strategies:
Prioritizing target clusters and existing industries: Tennessee is focusing its recruitment efforts on eight target clusters in which the state has a clear competitive advantage: automotive; chemicals and plastics; transportation, logistics and distribution services; business services; health care; advanced manufacturing; energy technologies; and entertainment. ECD partners with other state agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Tourist Development to support additional key clusters. The state is also focused on helping existing businesses expand and remain competitive through targeted outreach
Establishing regional "jobs base camps" across the state: Nine “jobs base camps” have been established across the state, each of which is led by a Regional Director.
Investing in innovation:Governor Haslam announced on May 5, 2011 a $50 million initiative designed to support innovation across the state. The goal of the program, called INCITE for its focus on innovation, commercialization, investment, technology and entrepreneurship, is to raise Tennessee's profile in innovation-based economic development and drive growth in the creation of knowledge-based jobs.
The INCITE initiative focuses on four areas:
Innovation Coordination – each of the nine jobs base camp regions have developed a strategic plan for economic development containing a strategy for developing innovation using the region's unique assets. LaunchTN will also play a key role in assisting with the development of these plans and other statewide innovation initiatives.
Commercialization – ECD is launching a series of initiatives designed to help move new products and technologies from the research lab to the marketplace faster. In March 2011, Gov. Haslam announced $10 million in funding for the Memphis Research Consortium to enhance commercialization partnerships as a first step in this process. ECD will work with LaunchTN to identify other opportunities to enhance technology commercialization activities across the state.
Entrepreneurship – ECD has established a new or existing business incubator in each of the state's nine economic development regions. To receive funding, business incubators will commit to meeting critical benchmarks, such as raising specific amounts of private sector capital for its tenant companies. The StartupTennessee statewide incubator network has also been established to share best practices and support efforts to raise private capital.
Co-Investment Funds – the $30 million INCITE Co-Investment Fund assists with the creation of early stage, seed, and mezzanine capital for promising Tennessee companies, funded through the U.S. Treasury Department’s State Small Business Credit Initiative.
Reducing business regulation: ECD led a review of federal and state business regulations to identify those laws and regulations inhibiting job growth. The Regulatory Reform Report was generated as a result of the findings.