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State economic commissioner has optimistic outlook

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe is excited about the state’s outlook as it tries to awaken from its COVID slumber.

“This is now six months and counting and we’re all doing our very best to adapt,” said Rolfe referring to the economic impact COVID-19 has had on the state. “I think what we are excited about is that our state is hopefully opening and returning to that level of prosperity that we all had become accustomed to.”

Rolfe made those comments while appearing as a guest at Warren County’s weekly coronavirus press conference Tuesday. He gave a brief explanation of the ECD’s purpose.

“Our job at the ECD is to recruit companies to come to Tennessee,” Rolfe said. “That includes making sure that once the company comes to Tennessee it’s successful and thriving so when it comes to a Phase 2 or Phase 3 project that the company considers Tennessee for its expansion. That would be what I would say would be Job 1.”

Rolfe explained how this benefits taxpaying Tennesseans.

“If we’re doing our job, we’re not only bringing great companies and great brands to Tennessee but hopefully we’re recruiting great, family-wage jobs to Tennessee for Tennesseans,” Rolfe said.

“We’re also responsible for the community development component of this. We help communities throughout the state to improve and invest themselves for future growth and economic development projects,” said Rolfe.

County Executive Jimmy Haley mentioned the 200-acre industrial site currently being developed in Morrison with the help of the ECD.

“We will be using that infrastructure, rail spur, and road access grants to help develop that site so we can build some more jobs and some more prosperity for our rural community,” Haley said referring to grants the ECD provides.

Rolfe pointed out the importance of having an industrial site that’s ready to accommodate a potential company.

“Your community has invested in an industrial park. That’s important because when a company is ready to choose a site, it’s about how many sites are shovel-ready and who has the right community and who has the right workforce,” said Rolfe.