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As the U.S. economy approaches its longest continual economic expansion in the post World War II era, Tennessee is adding new businesses at a record pace and Hamilton County is growing new businesses at the fastest growth pace among the state's biggest counties.

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett said Tuesday that 10,709 new entity filings were made across the Volunteer State in the third quarter, up 14.8 percent from a year earlier and the fastest growth in the past decade.

"This record growth shows that Tennessee's economy is continuing to flourish," Hargett said in his quarterly update on Tennessee business filings.

Hamilton County recorded 720 new business filings in the three month period ended Sept. 30 — up 13.4 percent over the previous year.

Dr. William Fox, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee, said business starts are a leading economic indicator for next year when the U.S. economic expansion is expected to reach the longest period of sustained growth next spring. Businesses are started when investors feel confident about future economic growth and initial filings are an indicator of future investments and hiring by the new firms, Fox said.

"Hamilton County has showed very good economic growth over the past several years as we've seen the growth in Southeast Tennessee from Volkswagen, Amazon, Wacker and other projects in Hamilton and Bradley counties," he said. "These are very strong growth numbers and it will be interesting to see in 2019 if this pace can be sustained."

Tennessee has increased the number of businesses operating in the state for nearly eight consecutive years. As of Sept. 1, there were a record 267,952 active entities in Tennessee.

Fox said employment continues to grow in Tennessee, although at a slower growth rate this year than last. The state's unemployment rate remained unchanged from August to September at 3.6 percent. The state's unemployment rate remains slightly below the U.S. rate of 3.7 percent but slightly above the record low of 3.3 percent reached in Tennessee last fall.

In the 6-county Chattanooga metropolitan area, employment grew by 4,722 jobs over the past 12 months to cut the local jobless rate to 3.4 percent in September, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

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

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