Tennessee’s incentive packages for private companies might be changing to encourage more development in the state’s rural areas.
After touting Tennessee’s economic success, Gov. Bill Lee said he wants to shift some of the investments into the rural parts of the state. These incentive packages subsidize private companies with grants or selective tax breaks to encourage investment.
“This year, Mitsubishi, FedEx-Logistics, JNJ [Express], Pilot.com, Hyosung, Amazon, Smile Direct, Icee, and dozens of other companies made expansions in or relocations to Tennessee,” Lee said Monday night in his State of the State address.
Tennessee garnered 108 project commitments last year, half of which were in rural areas, Lee said. The state’s projects are expected to create 16,500 jobs and $3.6 billion in capital investments. To shift these investments to rural Tennessee, however, Lee announced he directed the Department of Economic and Community Development to restructure the incentive package to companies considering to relocate to the state’s 15 distressed counties and its 24 at-risk counties.
Lee also proposed other investments in rural Tennessee. He proposed adding $20 million to the Rural Opportunity Fund, which funds site development, main-street development and critical infrastructure. He also proposed $25 million to increase broadband accessibility in those regions.
Other investments in Lee’s plan would include $7 million for the Tennessee Agriculture Enhancement Program, $2 million for UT Extension Agents, $4 million for rural health-care clinics and $2.4 million for rural tourism.
The governor said his budget proposal also will recommend $100 million in state funds to be divided up for local governments. This will be accessed by rural, suburban and urban communities.