by Jon Styf
Tennessee allocated six incentive grants worth at least $1 million to companies this year who are either building new facilities or expanding facilities in the state.
The incentives come through the state’s FastTrack grant program, which are state grants sent to local governments for specific infrastructure improvements or to companies to help offset the costs of expanding existing facilities or moving into the state with the goal of increasing the number of full-time jobs and the average wages of jobs available in an area.
So far in 2022, Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development has granted 30 businesses $3,935 per promised added job. From 2017 through 2022, that figure was an average of $5,560 in grants per job with the top yearly average coming at $6,962 in 2021.
That was up from $5,790 in 2020 and $4,229 and $4,238 average grants per job in 2019 and 2018, respectively.
The largest grant from the FastTrack program in 2022 was $4.4 million for 3M Company to help fund a $470 million expansion that is expected to add 600 new jobs by 2025 at Eagle Bend Industrial Park in Clinton in Anderson County.
Incentives for larger projects such as the $884 million for Ford’s $5.6 billion Blue Oval City outside Memphis are often allocated separately from the program.
When companies are looking to move to Tennessee or expand, they contact the TDECD to apply for possible incentives for a project. The state evaluates everything from the location of the project, whether it is urban or rural and the pay level of the jobs that will be created.
In 2022, for example, the state paid $4,369 per job in incentives for rural projects and $3,473 per job for urban projects. In 2021, that was $7,957 in incentives per rural job and $6,194 in urban areas.
After the TDECD and the business come to an agreement, the state writes up a contract with the company that is sent to the state’s Funding Board for approval. That contract can later be used by the state to ensure that job promises are met by a company.
At that point, the state releases an announcement of the project and, within 30 days, adds it to the state’s transparency database as either a project with a completed contract or a project with a contract pending.
After the 3M deal was signed, the TDECD sent out a press release with quotes from legislative, local and company leaders.
“Tennessee is known by the brands that call our state home, so we are proud that 3M has decided to invest nearly $470 million to expand its Anderson County operations,” said TDECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe. “We thank 3M for its continued investment in Clinton and realize that this win would not be possible without the strong leadership at the local community level.”
The other million-dollar incentive deals for 2022 are Fiber Composites LLC in Maury County ($3.1 million, 310 jobs), Monogram Assembled Foods in Dickson County ($1.825M, 393 jobs), Dot Foods in Coffee County ($1.75M, 171 jobs), Recreational Equipment, Inc., in Wilson County ($1.1 million, 288 jobs) and Tritium Technologies in Wilson County ($1 million, 510 jobs).
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Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.
Photo “Blue Oval City” by Ford.