TVA helps 140 businesses grow
The Tennessee Valley Authority helped with 140 business additions or expansions across its seven-state region in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
Collectively, those businesses are projected to invest $4.9 billion in the valley and create or retain 43,000 jobs.
"That's up substantially from about 25,000 jobs we helped recruit at the low point in 2008, so we see some recovery," TVA President Tom Kilgore said Friday. "It's not what we liked, but it is an improvement."
TVA's economic development department had its best year for job additions in 2005 when 57,728 new jobs were lured to the valley. The best year for business investment from TVA-aided projects came in 2007 when additions and expansions totaled $5.6 billion.
The fruits of two of the biggest business investments ever in the region recently took shape. Last week, Toyota produced the first vehicle, the Corolla, at its $1 billion plant in Blue Springs, Miss.
Earlier this fall, the $1.2 billion Hemlock semiconductor plant near Clarksville, Tenn., was hooked up to TVA's power lines.
State health care rise less than U.S.
Health insurance premiums for family coverage in Tennessee rose less than the U.S. average from 2003 to 2010, according to a new study by The Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit health policy foundation.
But the 37 percent jump in premiums for family plans in Tennessee between 2003 and 2010 still was twice the overall rate of inflation as measured by the government's consumer price index.
Nationwide, health insurance premiums for family plans rose 50 percent from 2003 until last year, Commonwealth reported.
If that rate is continued, the average family health insurance premium would balloon to nearly $24,000 by 2020, according to the study.
In Tennessee, the average premium for family coverage rose to $12,729 last year.
"Whether you live in California, Montana, or West Virginia, health insurance is expensive," said Commonwealth Fund senior vice president Cathy Scho.
Fleischmann: End weatherization
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleisch-mann, R-Tenn., has turned the responses to the Republicans' "YouCutIt" website into legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Fleischmann last week introduced the "Stop Green Initiative Abuse Act of 2011" to eliminate the Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program. Fleischmann said the move would save taxpayers $2.1 billion over the next decade.
Ending the Weatherization Assistance Program was the top priority among respondents to the GOP's website list of federal programs that could be eliminated to save money.
"I ran for Congress because I knew something had to be done about our crushing debt," Fleischmann said.
The Chattanooga Republican said the Department of Energy's weatherization assistance program has proven ineffective and duplicates other federal programs, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
Cleveland Chamber wins 4-star rating
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week awarded a four-star accreditation to the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce after the local Chamber demonstrated competency to reviewers in nine core areas ranging from finance to facilities.
Only about 4 percent of the 6,936 local chambers of commerce in the United States are accredited by the U.S. Chamber, and even fewer have either four- or five-star top ratings.
"Not only did we demonstrate competency, we went above and beyond minimum requirements to attain this impressive rating," said Barbara Baxter, chairwoman of the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber board.
"It is gratifying to know that professionals in the field outside our community consider our Chamber to be among the best in the country," she said.