By Anthony Holt via Tennessean
The state has added more than 330,000 private sector jobs since Gov. Bill Haslam took office in 2011. That has coincided with an exciting roster of corporate relocations and expansions, particularly in Middle Tennessee.
In my own county, we saw one of the world’s great companies, Beretta, move its entire manufacturing and North American headquarters from Maryland to Gallatin. Other communities in the region have enjoyed similar success, with globally recognized brands like UBS, Hankook, LG, and Under Armor choosing to call Tennessee home.
That means job creation by the thousands and billions of dollars in new investment in the local tax base. Any economic development professional or local mayor knows the secrets to Tennessee’s success: our dedicated workforce, the best business climate in the U.S., and world-class logistics.
Tennessee is blessed geographically to be centrally located, giving companies terrific access to a majority of U.S. consumers through trucking, rail, water and air lift. Our road system, in particular, provides companies the ability to move their goods quickly and access to a regional workforce. Tennessee also has a long history of investing in its infrastructure, choosing to fund projects with cash rather than borrowing money through bonds.
In order to maintain our state’s economic momentum, Tennessee must continue to invest in the infrastructure companies rely on to get their goods to market and that workers use to travel across the region to reach employers. Much like passing groundbreaking higher education reform with the Tennessee Promise, our General Assembly can make a similar difference in the lives of Tennesseans by passing the Governor’s IMPROVE Act.
The act will cut taxes while also funding 962 backlogged road projects spread out across all 95 Tennessee counties. The act would also create a local option where communities could pursue public transit projects by sending them to a public referendum, allowing the citizens to decide.
Long term, the IMPROVE Act creates a funding structure for Tennessee road projects for decades to come.
Tennessee has enjoyed a real edge in economic development, attracting companies, investment and jobs. Just like with our education system, we must continue to modernize public policy and funding options for our state’s road system. It is the backbone of our logistical advantage and one of our greatest selling points.
We not only owe it to the companies that call Tennessee home, but to our workforce. It benefits our citizens to be able to travel in an efficient and safe manner, while reducing their travel time after a long day of work.
We must continue the state’s long tradition of proactive investment in our infrastructure to keep Tennessee’s economy moving forward. Passing the IMPROVE Act is the right thing to do for our current needs and for the future of our state.