Select Tennessee sites offer competitive edge
The race for jobs is no longer contained in the Southeast or even the United States. It's a global competition featuring companies with increasingly higher standards for expansion or relocation. Tennessee is doing everything it can to stay in front and remain top of mind, both for existing industries and in attracting new capital investment.
That's why the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) launched the Select Tennessee Certified Sites Program in June 2012, with the goal of helping Tennessee communities prepare available sites for investment and expansion.
ECD has partnered with world-class site selection firms Austin Consulting and The Foote Consulting Group. Through this partnership, Select Tennessee Certified Sites have all been vetted and certified to international standards.
Feedback from site consultants confirming site readiness is an increasingly important aspect of choosing a location. Decision timeframes continue to shorten and companies have become more risk-averse in their facilities strategies.
The Select Tennessee program acknowledges that companies looking to expand or relocate often eliminate less-prepared sites. To become certified, a site must have at least 20 developable acres, proper zoning in place to allow for ease of development, all utilities at the site or a formal plan to extend to the site, documented environmental conditions and geotechnical analysis, and truck-quality road access.
To date, 26 greenfield sites have been certified, and the investment made by state and local governments in these sites is already producing results. For example, Hankook Tire chose to locate its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Clarksville on one of ECD's certified sites, investing $800 million and creating 1,800 jobs. Another new warehousing facility is also being located at a certified site in Benton County.
Dot Foods, the nation's largest food redistributor is investing $24 million at a certified site in Dyersburg in large part because much of the due diligence -- environmental work, stream and wetland determinations, and geotechnical studies -- had already been completed as a requirement of becoming a Select Tennessee Certified Site.
Dyersburg's economic development team decided very quickly to enter the program. As a smaller community in West Tennessee, they wanted to do everything they could to level the playing field and position themselves favorably with corporate site selectors and consultants. The Dyersburg/Dyer Chamber credits the Select Tennessee program with Dot Foods' comfort with the site early in the recruitment process. As a result, the company is opening its first distribution center in Tennessee, creating 157 new jobs for the community.
Becoming certified as a Select Tennessee site is more than just an award for communities to hang on a wall. It's a designation that sets sites apart from competitors by assuring decision makers their project will be operational in the shortest possible timeframe, and allows ECD to market these locations to site consultants and companies around the world.