Tennessee gov: Fiscal strength makes us No. 1

There is little margin for error in today's business climate. Companies, investors, shareholders and executives all operate in a high-stakes world where a global economy with lightning-fast access to information leaves no room for mistakes.

That means private-sector job creators willing to risk capital must choose their partners wisely. Making a decision about where to invest often carries with it the choice of a government partner.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam
Source: Office of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam

Tennessee is the best state for business due to sound fiscal management, coupled with significant new investments in our economic ecosystem. Our strategies for cultivating an attractive business climate are long term, not short plays for quick headlines.

Since I ran for office more than four years ago, job growth and stewardship of our state's business climate have been top priorities. Now Tennessee's world-class business climate is being recognized nationally and internationally as companies vote with their checkbooks.

Earlier this year, Tennessee was named the 2013 State of the Year for economic development by Business Facilities magazine, one of the premier publications covering economic development in the U.S. because of our "aggressive execution of a diversified growth strategy."

An important part of our success has been Tennessee's balance sheet.

Businesses have to trust their government partners—both the elected leaders at the time and the economic policies of involved governments.

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Economic upheaval in Europe over recent years reveals that a growing number of EU countries have serious economic imbalances. In China the cost of doing business is driving a reshoring movement, bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. Here at home, there are well-documented trends of companies fleeing states with unfavorable business climates.

In Tennessee we know businesses are considering the strength and values of governments as they make business decisions about expansions and relocations. Our state government has a long-term track record of quality, conservative fiscal management that spans generations.

Tennessee has the lowest debt per capita of all 50 states. Having the best balance sheet in the country was not something that was accomplished in a few short budget cycles. This kind of conservative fiscal management is the hallmark of our state governmen, which spans multiple administrations.

Our fiscal restraint means businesses can confidently invest in Tennessee without the concern our state budget will later be balanced on their backs with new taxes and fees.

Tennessee's budgetary discipline has allowed our state in recent years to make meaningful investments in public education, workforce development and our international business reach.

My administration recently announced the Tennessee Promise, a program that guarantees high school graduates two years at a community or technical college absolutely free of tuition and fees. The Tennessee Promise is the only program of its kind in the nation, and it builds on the progress we're making in K-12. Last year Tennessee was named the fastest-improving state in the nation in academic achievement.

Education is a top priority in Tennessee. Our progress in K-12 and focus on workforce development makes it clear that Tennessee is supporting the development of a better-educated and highly trained workforce on a long-term basis.

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Tennessee has also invested for the long term in a broader international footprint to ensure our state is firmly entrenched in the new, global economy.

Our state now has offices courting foreign direct investment in Japan, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Canada. We also have offices seeking export opportunities for Tennessee companies in Mexico, China, Japan and the EU.

This investment demonstrates Tennessee's commitment to competing globally for business and jobs, which is not something most states can claim.

Our efforts are paying off with some of the highest-profile companies in the world choosing to call Tennessee home.

In 2013, South Korean tire maker Hankook Tire decided to locate its first North American manufacturing facility in Clarksville, Tennessee. The company is making an $800 million investment in our state and will create approximately 1,800 new jobs.

Earlier this year, the oldest industrial concern in the world announced it would expand its North American manufacturing presence to our state. Beretta USA announced a $45 million manufacturing facility and research center in Gallatin, Tennessee, just outside Nashville.

These two examples point to Tennessee's international reach. Our business climate and brand resonate worldwide.

In business, investors with long-term strategies are the ones that not only survive but also thrive. We have been careful stewards of our finances, business climate and economy in Tennessee. What we have created over time is the best state in the nation for business.

Business is thriving in Tennessee.

—By Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam