Tennessee opens recruitment office in Paris to serve France, Spain

Tennessee Economic and Community Development commissioner Robert Rolfe speaks at the Wacker polysilicon manufacturing plant on Friday, June 2, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tenn. The manufacturer broke ground Friday on a multi-million dollar addition to its existing plant that will produce HDK pyrogenic silica.

After leading all states in the recruitment of direct foreign investment in two of the past four years, Tennessee is beefing up its foreign recruitment staff in Europe to lure even more business from abroad into the Volunteer State.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced Monday it is opening an office in Paris to serve France and Spain, led by Lorenzo Vignal and Sergio Fribolle who were named directors of business development. The international recruitment office is the eighth the state has created around the globe to help Tennessee capture the biggest amount of foreign investment in both 2013 and 2015, according to IBM-PLI's Global Location Trends annual reports.

"Overseas recruitment has been a crucial part of our strategy to lure new investment and high- quality jobs to Tennessee," said Bob Rolfe, commissioner of Economic and Community Development. "TNECD now has a presence in 11 countries across Europe and Asia and I'm confident our seasoned representatives abroad will ensure Tennessee continues to be one of the leading destinations for foreign direct investment in the U.S."

More than 75 French-owned businesses operate in Tennessee, collectively employing more than 9,200 Tennesseans. Spanish-owned companies employ more than 900 Tennesseans. Since 2011, TNECD has secured investments from 13 French companies and four Spanish businesses, totaling approximately $387 million in investment and more than 2,700 job commitments.

Fribolle has dual Spanish-French citizenship. As the international business development manager at Salveo Group, Fribolle has deep trade and investment experience in the French and Spanish markets. He previously worked for the French Chamber of Commerce in Bordeaux as a financial business analyst and as an international project manager for the Salveo Group, where he assisted several companies penetrate the French market.

Vignal previously served as a Mexican diplomat for three decades, serving as Mexican Ambassador to Sweden, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine as well as Diplomatic Advisor to Mexican President Vicente Fox. During the 1990s, Vignal founded two Mexican companies that specialized in international trade.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

Foreign accents in Tennessee

› Tennessee is home to 952 foreign-owned businesses, collectively employing 140,445.› In the 10-county Southeast Tennessee district, 41 foreign-based businesses have collectively added 9,703 jobs, including major additions by Volkswagen, Wacker Chemie and BASF of Germany, Komatsu and Denso of Japan, Gestamp of Spain and Sanofi of France.› In 2016, Tennessee recruited 37 foreign-based companies to locate in the state with a capita investment of $893.6 million and a projected 4,839 jobs.› In 2017, Tennessee recruited 38 foreign-based business projects with a capital investment of more than $2.5 billion and 6,729 projected jobs.Source: Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development