Southern hospitality entices business to Tennessee

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When it comes to dealing with small businesses owners or corporate giants, Tennessee is the place to be. The Volunteer State has once again made its mark on a national scale.

Two separate groups have recognized Tennessean’s hard work and are acknowledging it accordingly.

As in the past, Tennessee ranked among the best in economic development by Area Development magazine, a leading executive publication covering corporate site selection and facility planning.

Along with Texas, South Carolina and Utah, Tennessee was named the winner of the magazine’s 2012 Gold Shovel Awards, presented annually to states that have achieved significant success in terms of job creation and economic impact.

According to a press release, Tennessee received a Gold Shovel award in 2009 and Silver Shovel awards in 2006, 2010 and 2011.

Tennessee is also recognized by Area Development as a 2011 Economic Development Project of the Year for the $235 million General Motors project in Spring Hill that is expected to create 2,350 jobs.

“This award speaks volumes to Gov. (Bill) Haslam’s leadership and direction for our department,” said Bill Hagerty, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. “In 2011, we had the second best year of job creation on record, topped only by 2007, at the height of the bubble. We substantially reorganized the department and had more staff on-the-ground recruiting than ever before.  In receiving awards like the Gold Shovel, it shows our new economic development plan is yielding industry-leading results.”

Area Development's annual Gold and Silver Shovel Awards recognize state economic development agencies that drive significant job creation through innovative policies, infrastructure improvements, processes and promotions that attract new employers and investments in new and expanded facilities. Only economic development projects initiated in 2011 were considered for the award.

Tennessee received the Gold Shovel Award in the 5 to 9 million population category.

"As the economy slowly recovers, communities are going to great lengths to attract new businesses and to help their existing corporate citizens to expand their business,"  said Geraldine Gambale, editor of Area Development. “The states receiving 2012 Shovel Awards deserve special recognition for their efforts.”

Meanwhile, on a very different front,, in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, has released new data showing small businesses rank Tennessee among the Top 10 least costly states nationwide for hiring a new employee. And within the state, Middle Tennessee's small businesses continue to grow at the fastest rate.

“There are a lot of business climate rankings, but there aren’t any that draw upon considerable data from small business owners themselves,” a press release states. “The Small Business Survey is the only survey to draw data from an extensive, nationwide universe of job creators and entrepreneurs themselves in order to investigate the best places in the country to do business.”

Co-founder Sander Daniels pointed out that Tennessee ranked favorably across a variety of categories after a two-month survey of more than 6,000 small-business owners nationwide.

“Small businesses continue to feel squeezed by the current economic realities, and state and local policies can mean the difference between success and failure,” he said. “In a variety of areas, Tennessee seems to be doing a great job helping its small businesses succeed.”

Because of its tax structure, Tennessee is often named a low-cost state to do business through a variety of surveys, according to Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce President Paul Latture.

“From a personal standpoint, no state income tax is always attractive to people coming in to earn a living; that’s certainly a benefit,” he said.

Latture pointed out that low cost could also mean a number of things, including acreage price tags.

“Generally, overall, I think Tennessee presents itself as a lower-cost solution to starting a business,” he said, adding quality of life and low cost of living are also listed as popular attributes.

According to survey, small businesses rated Middle Tennessee as having the state's fastest-growing small businesses.

Although Tennessee ranked highly in many categories, it earned only a B- grade for its overall small business friendliness. This is partly the result of Tennessee small businesses' concern over their future economic prospects, for which the state ranked No. 30 nationwide, data provided by shows.

“Surprisingly, women-owned small businesses in Tennessee felt much more comfortable economically than did their male counterparts,” according to the press release. “Female entrepreneurs were 38 percent more likely than male entrepreneurs to rate their company's current financial situation as ‘good’ or ‘very good.’”

Although Tennessee didn't fare particularly well for its overall small-business friendliness, its bright spot was the cost of hiring a new employee. Small businesses rated Tennessee as having the third-lowest cost of hiring an employee of any state in the South. surveyed 6,022 small businesses across the United States. The survey asked questions about the friendliness of states towards small business and about small business finances. Full results from the survey can be found at

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Business, Economy, Finance, Murfreesboro, Nashville, Taxes, Tennessee
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