• Join your peers at SSTI's 2024 Annual Conference!

    Join us December 10-12 in Arizona to connect with and learn from your peers working around the country to strengthen their regional innovation economies. Visit ssticonference.org for more information and to register today.

  • Become an SSTI Member

    As the most comprehensive resource available for those involved in technology-based economic development, SSTI offers the services that are needed to help build tech-based economies.  Learn more about membership...

  • Subscribe to the SSTI Weekly Digest

    Each week, the SSTI Weekly Digest delivers the latest breaking news and expert analysis of critical issues affecting the tech-based economic development community. Subscribe today!

Tennessee Governor Requests Funding for TBED, Alternative Fuels in Next Budget

March 12, 2007

Gov. Phil Bredesen’s budget proposal for 2007-2008 includes more than $100 million in new funding for several new education and high-tech development initiatives and a strategy to spur the state’s alternative fuels industry.


In his annual State of the State Address, the governor emphasized the need for major changes in the state’s educational system. In addition to augmenting state funding for pre-K programs, teacher salary increases and assistance for at-risk students, Gov. Bredesen’s budget calls for a massive initiative to improve the state’s flagging graduation rates and low higher ed enrollments. His plan calls for the creation of five-year high school programs that would coordinate with local community colleges to offer associate’s degrees to participating students. Students who do not participate in these programs, but demonstrate a reasonable level of college readiness, would be able to attend a community college after high school without paying tuition.


The budget provides $45.1 million for Gov. Bredesen’s “Next Step Jobs” strategy, announced in September 2006. The four-part strategy would support business and research across the state, particularly in high-tech industries. Some of the measures of interest to the TBED community include:

  • $36 million for the state’s FastTrack Infrastructure Development Program, which funds job training programs and infrastructure improvements to improve regional economies;
  • $4.6 million for other business recruitment and retention activities;
  • $3 million to extend the state’s high-speed broadband research network;
  • $1.5 million to support the Tennessee Leadership Center, which trains rural leaders to promote entrepreneurship and economic development; and,
  • Partnerships with the business community to design specialized community college programs that address the needs of leading employers.

The proposed budget also would dedicate $72.6 million to the governor’s Alternative Fuels Initiative to catalyze the state’s ethanol industry. A new $40 million pilot ethanol plant in the Oak Ridge-Knoxville region is the centerpiece of the state’s effort, which will focus on developing affordable methods of producing and distributing biomass-based fuels. The state would provide $11.6 million to continue the construction of the Joint Institute for Biological Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The Institute, scheduled for completion in August, would help Tennessee compete for one of the Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Research Centers (see the Aug. 14, 2006 issue of the SSTI Weekly Digest).


Other alternative energy initiatives in the budget include:

  • $10 million for switchgrass and ethanol research at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory;
  • $3 million for non-biomass alternative fuel research;
  • $8 million in incentives to encourage farmers to produce and supply switchgrass for the pilot ethanol plant; and,
  • $3.5 million in grants and loans to help develop the biofuels industry.

Read Gov. Bredesen’s proposed budget at: http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/govfiles/0708StateBudget.pdf