Southeast Tennessee shunned so far on economic development picks

Southeast Tennessee shunned so far on economic development picks

June 9th, 2011 by Andy Sher in News

Gov. Haslam

NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam and his chief jobs adviser, Bill Hagerty, on Wednesday named eight of nine new regional directors as part of their reorganization of the Economic and Community Development Department.

The odd area out? Hamilton County and other parts of Southeast Tennessee, an area that saw some of the greatest job creation successes in the state under Haslam's predecessor, Phil Bredesen.

Economic and Community Development's assistant commissioner for communications, Mark Drury, assured Southeast Tennesseans they are not being forgotten.

"[T]hat person has not been named yet," Drury said in an email regarding the regional director slot. "Commissioner Hagerty has not yet settled on a candidate he believes is the right fit for the position."

In Haslam's Jobs4TN initiative, the new regional directors will serve as the "primary point-of-contact" for in-state companies seeking government assistance with expansion or with accessing state services.

The initiative is putting less emphasis on trying to recruit national and international companies such as Volkswagen, which has opened an auto assembly plant in Chattanooga, and Wacker Chemical, which is building a $1.45 billion plant in Bradley County.

Haslam and Hagerty also announced members of the department's national project management team, which has responsibility for recruiting new companies to the state.

Those named include Lori Odom, who will serve as team leader. She has been with the department since 2004 and was formerly director of international development.

Others on the team include Gina Brown, who until now has been a jobs development specialist who successfully managed large-scale investments such as Loews Hotels Shared Services Center, 3M and Asurion.

Brown is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

"We have selected a seasoned team of business and economic development professionals to implement our Jobs4TN program," Haslam said in a news release.

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550.