Like those before him, Haslam takes European trip looking for Tennessee jobs

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is in Europe this week, but it’s hardly a vacation. Instead, it’s all about jobs.

For decades, Tennessee governors, whether they be Democrat or Republican, have made overseas economic trips with the idea of bringing jobs to the Volunteer State.

Governor Haslam’s European business trip takes him to the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Germany, but it’s practically a state secret about what companies the governor might be courting.

“I can’t divulge who we are pursuing right now,” said Tennessee Deputy Economic and Community Development (TNECD) Commissioner Ted Townsend. “I am sure other states we are competing against would love to know.”

Townsend outlined the highly competitive nature of attracting European Union, or EU investment, to individual states, while touting job creation numbers are important to any governor.

“Since Governor Haslam came in, if you just focus on the EU market, we have had $3.8 billion invested from these companies committing over 19,000 jobs,” added the deputy commissioner.

For Tennessee over the years, a governor’s overseas business trips meant landing well-known companies like Volkswagen in Chattanooga, but there are hundreds of lesser known investments scattered throughout the state where European businesses employ 62,000 Tennesseans, according to TNECD figures.

“It is not only is comprised of automotive and suppliers…but also in aerospace, defense and major appliances, advanced manufacturing chemicals and plastics,” said Townsend.

One of the most recent European investments came in April.

The Finnish company Nokian announced it would build a tire manufacturing plant with 400 jobs in rural Dayton, Tennessee.

The Deputy TNECD Commissioner also said the governor is not done making these overseas economic trips this year with one to Japan and Asia expected in the fall.