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Tennessee Innovation Strategy Targets High-Tech Research Jobs

September 25, 2006

Gov. Phil Bredesen has released a comprehensive job creation strategy with a particular focus on producing high-quality research jobs by supporting statewide innovation. Announced earlier this month, "Next Steps: Job Creation" is a four-point plan intended to attract and foster new businesses.

The strategy addresses the state's need to develop a more skilled workforce, invest in broadband and utility infrastructure, encourage local economic development leadership, and provide incentives to high-tech entrepreneurs. Bredesen, who has unveiled the plan with less than two months remaining in his bid for re-election, believes that the plan will help spur the state's job market by creating a more appealing business climate. One part of the plan, the new Innovation Tennessee initiative, will directly assist entrepreneurs and researchers in bringing their ideas to market.

Innovation Tennessee is an economic development initiative hosted by Nashville nonprofit Tennessee Tomorrow Inc., which would receive $5 million in funds from the state's Department of Economic and Community Development to provide seed funding to firms commercializing new technologies. The program will help move discoveries made at Tennessee universities and at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to the high-tech marketplace. Additional funds are being contributed by groups such as the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, which already has approved $100,000 for the fund.

"My personal philosophy is to let the private sector do what it does best by driving efficiency and new ideas, but these are some smart, sensible ways we can help," the governor said in a press release announcing the new plan.

Other measures in the governor's strategy also focus on fostering a stronger high-tech economy. The plan calls for an upgrade of the state's broadband capabilities, both to attract new businesses and to support in-state research. A new fiber-optic network, costing an estimated $3 million, would provide improved communication between the state's nonprofit and government research institutes, such as Oak Ridge, the University of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. A new grant fund for communities would assist local economic development leaders in building a suitable high-tech infrastructure for technology businesses by expanding their broadband services. Further support for local economic development officials would be available through the Tennessee Leadership Center, which provides training for community leaders trying to grow and attract new businesses.

Find out more about the "Next Steps: Job Creation" strategy on Governor Bredesen's website at: http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/governor/viewArticleContent.do?id=865&page=0