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Capitol Hill Review: A weekly wrap-up of legislative news

Tennessee Film Industry Stakes Claim As National Leader

Over the last several years, movie and television production from within the state has cast Tennessee onto the national and international stage, exposing audiences from around the world to the many benefits Tennessee has to offer.

In the process, the film and production industry has played a major role in boosting the state economy, employing thousands of residents with wages higher than the state average and generating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic investment from Memphis to Mountain City.

According to a new report released in January from the Center for Economic Research in Tennessee (CERT), the research arm of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Tennessee currently ranks No. 7 among all states in the nation for employment in the film production industry. Since 2010, employment in Tennessee’s film industry has grown 8 percent. Nearly 4,400 Tennesseans work in the film industry, earning an average of nearly $59,800 annually before benefits, a figure that is 21.3 percent higher than the average wage of all industries in Tennessee.

While Tennessee has been the birthplace and home of several movies and television series over the years, perhaps none have had the same economic impact as that of “Nashville,” which recently began airing its fifth season on the Country Music Television station.

In 2014, the Convention and Visitors Corporation surveyed overnight visitors to Nashville and found that nearly 20% of tourists came to visit Nashville because of the show. Not only do visitors attracted to Music City because of the show stay longer, the survey reported, but visitors also spend more money while they are in Nashville — on average $44 more per person per day than those tourists who have not seen the “Nashville” television show.

CERT estimates that tourism resulting from viewership of “Nashville” had an estimated $486.7 million in visitor spending and $34 million in state sales tax revenue over the three years following the show’s premier.

For a full picture of the impact and growth of the television and movie industry in Tennessee, download the full Economic and Community Development motion picture impact analysis by visiting

First Meeting Of Legislative Task Force On Opioid Abuse Kicks Off

This week in Nashville, the first meeting of the legislative task force on opioid and prescription drug abuse kicked off in Nashville, with stakeholders from across the state coming to the Legislative Plaza to speak out about Tennessee’s growing drug epidemic.

The task force was created this month by House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) with the immediate goal of working on legislation and determining best strategies for tackling Tennessee’s opioid problems. Tennessee is consistently ranked at the top of the charts nationally with regards to prescription drug abuse.

In 2015, 1,451 Tennesseans died from drug overdoses, the highest annual number in the state’s history. In addition, the number of babies born who have been chronically exposed to opioids is high, particularly in East Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Health reports that from 2000 to 2012, the rate of babies born with exposure increased 15 fold.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that prescription opioid abuse has a total economic burden of $78.5 billion per year in the United States. There is an estimated $7.7 billion criminal justice cost across the country.

Speaker Harwell kicked off the meeting with an address to those in attendance:

“Around the country, and especially here in Tennessee, we are facing an epidemic. We really are at the epicenter of the opioid crisis in America. There are more opioid prescriptions than there are people in this state.

We have some great people and groups that are dedicating themselves to tackling this problem. My hope is that this task force will look into the possibility of pilot programs, measure results of these programs, and determine best practices. The legislature has taken some great steps to fight this epidemic, but if additional legislation is needed, I want the task force to develop it.

I ask that you look into the treatment options that are available—and really delve into that data to see if there is a program being administered that we need to take statewide. Perhaps there are pilot programs across the state that could have a widespread, lasting impact on this crisis.

I’ll finish with this: since I announced the formation of this task force, I have been inundated with people from around the state sharing extremely personal and heartbreaking stories of addiction, and how it has touched them personally. It is an outpouring of people who want to help, and who are begging for a solution. It has driven home for me how incredibly important this work is.

Again, thank you for agreeing to serve. Thank you to everyone who is here today and those who come to future meetings for your interest. Now, let’s get to work.”


Tennessee Business Expansions On Rise Across State

In 2016, Tennessee was named State of the Year for Economic Development by Southern Business & Development Magazine based on project totals and the variety of industries that invested in the state and created jobs.

So far in 2017, Tennessee is well on its way to living up to this recognition, with multiple major job announcements made since the beginning of the year.

Since January 1, Tennessee’s top economic development projects have included:

  • LKQ Corporation — Creation of 150 new jobs in Davidson County
  • Call 2 Answer, LLC — Investment of $800,000 and the creation of 250 new jobs in Maury County
  • AkzoNobel — Investment of $10 million over the next five years and the creation of 70 new manufacturing and professional service jobs in Davidson County
  • Forrester Research, Inc. — Creation of 120 new jobs and local investment of $2.8 million in Davidson County and surrounding areas
  • Teknor Apex — Creation of 50 new jobs and investment of $32.2 million in Haywood County
  • Williams Sausage Company, Inc. — Creation of 226 new jobs in Obion County over the next five years
  • V&F Transformer Corporation — Investment of $1.4 million and the creation of 50 new jobs in Clay County
  • La-Z-Boy — Investment of $26 million and the creation of 115 new jobs in Rhea County
  • KaTom Restaurant Supply, Inc. — Creation of 100 new jobs and investment of $3 million in Sevier County
  • SmileDirectClub — Creation of 440 new jobs in Davidson County

Tennessee has rapidly climbed the ladder over the last several years as one of the overall best-managed states in the nation. Not only is Tennessee one of only a handful of states with a higher bond rating than that of the federal government — a major indicator that showcases our state’s stable fiscal environment — the state continues to rack up economic development awards from publications and rating agencies from across the country.


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