Last month, Volkswagen Group of America announced it will expand its sole U.S. manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, adding a manufacturing line and creating the company’s National Research & Development and Planning Center right here in Tennessee.
This $600 million investment to create 2,000 new jobs is exciting news, not just for Chattanooga, but also for all of Tennessee. The impact of this announcement goes far beyond these new jobs because of the large multiplier effect of the automotive industry, and adding a manufacturing line and the National Research & Development and Planning Center sends a clear signal that Tennessee can compete with anyone in the global marketplace.
I joined Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder recently to announce the future site of the 132-acre Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery at Parkers Crossroads that will serve more than 45,000 veterans and their families in 17 West Tennessee counties. Right now veterans and their families in this part of the state have to drive more than two hours to the nearest state veterans cemetery.
We want veterans in the more rural parts of the state to have access to these resources that also serve as a symbol of our gratitude for their service to our country.
Over the past month or so, I’ve had the opportunity to visit Dickson, Robertson, Cheatham, Bledsoe, Sequatchie, Grundy, Lawrence, Wayne, Monroe, Blount, Franklin, Overton, Shelby, Hardin, Decatur, Haywood and Greene counties to announce more than three dozen grants totaling more than $11.2 million. These grants, awarded by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture through federal- and state-funded programs, can be transformational for communities. From revitalizing downtown areas and making them more accessible and pedestrian friendly, to improving parks and recreational areas, to increasing energy efficiencies to save taxpayer dollars and reduce air emissions, we’re improving the quality of life in towns and cities across our state. We want Tennessee to continue to be the best place to live, work and raise a family, and these projects help make that a reality. For detailed information on these grants, visit news.tn.gov.
In July, Crissy and I had a great opportunity to showcase Tennessee to the rest of the country as we hosted the nation’s governors in Nashville for the National Governors Association summer meeting.
As you can imagine, music was a central theme of the weekend. Trace Adkins served as emcee for an evening at the Country Music Hall of Fame, Vince Gill and Amy Grant hosted a Friday night event at the Ryman Auditorium, and for the final evening, governors visited the Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson, where Carrie Underwood performed some of her most popular songs.
Entertainment aside, the real purpose of these meetings was for governors to come together to discuss the serious issues facing our states and our nation. While we may have different philosophies and take different approaches to these issues, governors share the responsibility of tackling those challenges.
So a good, healthy discussion on key issues was a big part of our conference. It says a lot about Tennessee that we were chosen to host this year’s conference, and it says a lot about our state that the conference was a successful one.
As I mentioned last month, Crissy has partnered with law enforcement across the state to launch the First Lady’s Read20 Book Patrol to distribute thousands of books (donated by Penguin Young Readers Group) to elementary school children this summer. To learn more about the Read20 Book Patrol, visit Crissy’s website.
As always, we welcome your feedback on the items mentioned above or anything else that’s on your mind. You can e-mail me at email@example.com.
Bill Haslam is governor of Tennessee.