Ambassador’s ‘crane’ joke signifies special Tennessee-Japan relationship

Bill Hagerty (Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The crane should be the “state bird of Tennessee.”

No, that idea did not come from the Audubon Society.

It was a recent quip from the new U.S. Ambassador to Japan about his old job of bringing companies to Tennessee, but it represents the special relationship the country has with the Volunteer State.

The words from Ambassador Bill Hagerty came earlier this month at the dedication of Nashville’s Bridgestone Americas building where he summed up what his old boss Governor Bill Haslam told him.

“When I worked for him, he charged me with a small task,” Hagerty told the crowd at the dedication of the building that will house 1700 workers. “He said he wanted me to make the crane the state bird of Tennessee.”

It got plenty of laughs, but jokes aside, the former state economic development commissioner knows how important Japan is for the country and Tennessee in his new role as U.S. Ambassador to the country.

Hagerty told the Bridgestone crowd this month how he gets his directions now right from the top.

“I was with the president the other day in the Oval Office and he pointed out to me that this is a critical relationship, and we have to make it even deeper from an economic standpoint and we are doing that,” added the ambassador, who is a Middle Tennessee native.

Along with Bridgestone and Nissan leading the way, Japanese investments mean 51-thousand jobs in Tennessee according to the state’s Economic and Community Development department.

Earlier in the fall, the governor promised more good news as he headed to Asia for the state’s annual economic development trip there.

“There is a lot of good economic news in store for Tennessee in the coming months,” said the governor in October, but no word about efforts to make the “crane” the state bird of Tennessee.

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