Haslam announces federal aid for 18 counties

Governor Bill Haslam

Bill Haslam

Counties receive disaster recovery funds for June flooding

NASHVILLE—Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday announced President Obama has declared 18 counties as federal disaster areas as a result of severe weather on June 5-10. State and local governments and electrical utilities spent nearly $10 million in response to and recovery from the wind damage and flash-flooding impacts.

“This federal aid will help our communities in rebuilding and recovery,” Haslam said. “State and local teams worked quickly to survey damage in more than 35 counties to determine the impact of these storms, and we are grateful for this assistance.”

The counties that will have access to federal aid include Anderson, Bledsoe, Carroll, Decatur, Henry, Hickman, Houston, Lawrence, Lewis, Madison, Marion, Maury, McNairy, Moore, Perry, Roane, Sequatchie, and Tipton. They will have access to federal assistance that provides reimbursement for 75 percent of eligible costs. A presidential disaster declaration also includes FEMA’s hazard mitigation grant program on a statewide basis.

Three fatalities were attributed to the severe weather and flooding. Two deaths occurred in Lawrence County and another in Hickman County. [Read more...]

ThreeStar status awarded to 85 counties, including Anderson, Roane

Bill Hagerty

Bill Hagerty


93 out of 95 counties meet audit committee requirement

NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development on Thursday announced that 85 out of 95 counties, including Anderson and Roane, have been awarded ThreeStar status. In addition, since the ThreeStar community development program began requiring eligible communities to create and maintain a County Audit Committee in January 2013, the number of counties with Audit Committees has increased substantially. As of March 2013, there were 32 audit committees around the state; as of July 2014, there are 93.

“The ThreeStar program is a vital component to our state’s overall level of success, providing counties with a proven roadmap for continued economic and community strength, which in turn helps Tennessee win new investment and jobs,” Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty said. “Tennessee has been recognized as the number one state in the nation for economic development, and these audit committees support Governor Haslam’s overarching goal of making Tennessee the most efficiently run state on every level. I congratulate all of our ThreeStar counties and those communities who are taking the initiative to create Audit Committees and work toward achieving fiscal strength and efficient government.”

The Audit Committees are designed to help each county improve their financial management and reporting practices, and help ensure the implementation of good internal controls to prevent or detect fraud, a step towards achieving fiscal strength and efficient government. [Read more...]

Alexander, Fleischmann finish first in primaries

Lamar Alexander and Johnny Alley

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, left, a Tennessee Republican, campaigns at Dean’s Restaurant and Bakery in Oak Ridge on Wednesday, one day before he beat Tea Party challenger Joe Carr, a state representative from Middle Tennessee, in the seven-candidate GOP primary. Alexander is pictured above with Anderson County Property Assessor Johnny Alley.


U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander

Lamar Alexander

Ninth District judicial race close; Supreme Court justices retained

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander finished far ahead of a Tea Party challenger in the Republican primary on Thursday, and Representative Chuck Fleischmann narrowly beat Weston Wamp, the son of former Congressman Zach Wamp, in the second battle between the two men.

Alexander’s top opponent in the seven-candidate GOP primary was State Representative Joe Carr of Middle Tennessee. Alexander, who lost in his home district of Blount County, had 329,929 votes, compared to 269,883 for Carr, according to unofficial results posted by the Tennessee Secretary of State.

George Flinn, a Memphis radiologist and radio station owner, finished a distant third, with 34,568 votes.

Alexander, a former Tennessee governor and University of Tennessee president, will face Democrat Gordon Ball in the November 4 general election. [Read more...]

In Oak Ridge, Alexander, Haslam promote GOP accomplishments

Bill Haslam and Lamar Alexander

Governor Bill Haslam, left, and Senator Lamar Alexander touted the accomplishments of Republicans in Congress and Tennessee during a campaign stop at Dean’s Restaurant and Bakery in Oak Ridge on Wednesday, one day before Thursday’s state and federal primary elections.


Governor Bill Haslam and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander campaigned in Oak Ridge on Wednesday as the two-term senator fought to prevail in the federal Republican primary in Tennessee on Thursday. The duo also promoted GOP accomplishments, both in Congress and in Tennessee.

Alexander is facing off against seven candidates for one of the state’s two U.S. Senate seats. Most of the attention has been focused on the race between Alexander and state Representative Joe Carr, a Republican Tea Party challenger from Lascassas in Rutherford County.

Alexander, who is also a former Tennessee governor, didn’t mention Carr by name during a stop at Dean’s Restaurant and Bakery in Oak Ridge on Wednesday.

Instead, he focused on accomplishments such as his vote to end “perpetual amnesty,” his “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, and the possibility that Republicans could gain a majority in the U.S. Senate. He also made some promises if Democrats lose control of the Senate.

“We’ll get rid of Harry Reid’s agenda,” said Alexander, referring to the current Senate majority leader, a Democrat. “We’ll get rid of ‘Obamacare.’” [Read more...]

Gov. Haslam has campaign stop in Oak Ridge on Wednesday

Governor Bill Haslam

Bill Haslam

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who is running for re-election this year, will make a campaign stop in Oak Ridge on Wednesday. It’s one of a series of campaign stops across the state this week.

Haslam will be at Dean’s Restaurant in Jackson Square for “Lunch with Bill” at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. He’ll also be making other stops across East Tennessee on Wednesday, including in Chattanooga, Athens, Lenoir City, Sevierville, Dandridge, and Knoxville.

The Tennessean reported on July 11 that three other Republicans and nine other candidates also are running for the state’s highest office, but none are expected to seriously challenge Haslam, a former Knoxville mayor.

Photos: SL Tennessee expansion

SL Tennessee Tail Light Hot Weld

SL Tennessee employee Ricky Bean at a hot plate welding station in the assembly area for Cadillac tail lights.


CLINTON—Tennessee officials and SL Tennessee executives on Friday announced 1,000 new auto parts manufacturing jobs as part of a $80.5 million expansion in the Clinton I-75 Industrial Park in Clinton. It could be the largest expansion of industrial employment in Anderson County since World War II.

The South Korean company plans to invest $80.5 million to build a 250,000-square-foot plant on Frank L. Diggs Drive in the industrial park. It will be SL Tennessee’s LLC third building in the park, and the company’s fifth expansion since locating in Clinton in 2001. The new building will manufacture automobile head lights and tail lamps for General Motors.

Construction on the new building in Clinton will begin in August, and the new plant could be operating by April 2015.

Here is a collection of photos from Friday’s event. [Read more...]

SL Tennessee expansion could be largest in industrial employment since World War II

SL Tennessee Expansion Media Availability

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, center, announces 1,000 new jobs as part of an $80.5 million expansion at auto parts manufacturer SL Tennessee in Clinton. Also pictured from left are Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Clinton Mayor Scott Burton, and U.S. Senator Bob Corker.


Note: This story was last updated at 11:30 a.m. July 26.

CLINTON—The 1,000 new jobs announced at SL Tennessee in Clinton on Friday could be the largest expansion of industrial employment in Anderson County since World War II, officials said.

SL Tennessee, an auto parts manufacturer, plans to invest $80.5 million to build a 250,000-square-foot plant on Frank L. Diggs Drive in the Clinton I-75 Industrial Park. It will be SL Tennessee’s LLC third building in the park, and the company’s fifth expansion since locating in Clinton in 2001. The new building will manufacture automobile head lights and tail lamps for General Motors.

The jobs announcement was made in the South Korean company’s Chassis Plant on Friday near workers assembling gear shifters and brake assemblies, mostly for GM. Marking the importance of the announcement, Gov. Bill Haslam was invited to speak and so were U.S. senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.

“This is obviously a big day,” said Haslam, who announced the new jobs. “It shows our growth in the automotive business.”

It’s the second announcement of more than 1,000 jobs at an automotive plant in East Tennessee in the past two weeks. Last week, Volkswagen announced a $600 million investment and 2,000 new jobs in Chattanooga. [Read more...]

Haslam, SL Tennessee to make economic development announcement Friday

Governor Bill Haslam

Bill Haslam

Gov. Bill Haslam and executives from SL Tennessee will make a significant economic development announcement in Clinton on Friday, a press release said.

The ceremony starts at 10:15 a.m. Friday at SL Tennessee at 311 Frank L. Diggs Drive.

Others expected to attend include U.S. senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker; Rep. Chuck Fleischmann; Y.K. Woo, SL America president; Scott Laska, SL Tennessee business development manager; Clinton Mayor Scott Burton; Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank; and other local elected officials.

Volkswagen to expand auto plant in Chattanooga, build new SUV

Volkswagen will expand its automotive plant in Chattanooga, the company’s only U.S. manufacturing facility, and build a new midsize SUV for the American market.

Volkswagen’s total global investment for the expansion will be $900 million, and $600 million of that will be invested in Tennessee. The company expects to create 2,000 jobs in Hamilton County.

The announcement was made by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Volkswagen Group of America officials in a Monday morning press release. [Read more...]

Lake City is now Rocky Top, Tennessee

Lake City to Rocky Top Vote

The Lake City Council on Thursday agreed to change the town’s name to Rocky Top as part of an effort to attract a multi-million dollar development that could include a water park, interactive theater with children’s museum, and coal miners music theater, among other things.


Note: This story was last updated at 1:10 p.m. June 28.

LAKE CITY—Lake City is now Rocky Top, Tennessee.

For most people, Rocky Top has been, until now, the name of a bluegrass song that is wildly popular in East Tennessee and the unofficial anthem of the University of Tennessee Volunteers. Hikers might know it as a sub-peak of Thunderhead Mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains. And shoppers might recognize it as the name of a bookstore, or gas station, or wine trail, or one of many other businesses registered in Tennessee.

But officials and business leaders here have worked for months to make their town to first to use it in a city name.

The idea is to use the name change to spur developments along Interstate 75 that could be worth up to $237 million. Proposed projects include an indoor and outdoor water park, interactive theater with a children’s museum, a coal miners music theater, and laser tag, among other things. Officials have said those developments—which have also included other options such as a hotel, restaurant, and candy company—won’t happen without the name change.

Residents hope the change and subsequent developments will create jobs, add sales tax revenues, and provide a vital economic boost to this depressed town of 1,800 people in northern Anderson County. [Read more...]

U.S. judge denies request to stop Lake City’s name change to Rocky Top

Tim Isbel at Hearing on Lake City Name Change to Rocky Top

Tim Isbel, president of the Rocky Top Marketing and Manufacturing Co., at a federal court hearing in May on Lake City’s proposed name change to Rocky Top.

A federal judge on Wednesday denied for now a request to stop Lake City from changing its name to Rocky Top.

The preliminary injunction had been requested by House of Bryant Publications LLC, the Gatlinburg publisher of “Rocky Top,” a well-known bluegrass song closely identified with the University of Tennessee and its Volunteers athletics program.

The Lake City Council could reconsider the name change as early as June. The council endorsed the name change in November, and it was approved by the Tennessee General Assembly this year in a bill that has already been signed by Gov. Bill Haslam. Anderson County Commissioner Tim Isbel has said Lake City could become Rocky Top on July 3 under the new state law.

Isbel is president of Rocky Top Tennessee Marketing and Manufacturing Co. That company has proposed a development that could be worth up to $450 million over six years and include an indoor and outdoor water park, coal miners theater, children’s museum, train rides, restaurant, and a candy company on some 300 acres near two exits off Interstate 75. Officials have said it could bring 200 new jobs to Lake City and generate another $6 million in sales tax per year. But the project hinges on the name change. [Read more...]