As we begin the process of recovering from the economic impacts of COVID-19, lawmakers must do all they can to support Tennessee businesses and the workers who have been hurt by virus-related closures as well as the resulting consumer behavioral changes. As a business owner, I’ve seen exactly how this crisis is taking a toll and I’ve been tirelessly fighting to keep my employees on the payroll by finding new products for them to produce. I’ll use my knowledge and experience to draft and support legislation that accelerates the recovery in Tennessee.
State government should do all it can to ease the process of starting a business in Tennessee or relocating a business here. I will be actively selling business leaders on the reasons they should choose Knoxville and Knox County as the home for their organizations. Supporting entrepreneurship is important to me, as is providing the right infrastructure that will encourage economic development. We should use all the tools at our disposal - including incentives, grants, and tax credits - to help great businesses start here, relocate here, and grow here.
It’s also important that we take care of Tennesseans who are facing difficult job circumstances because of the coronavirus. While we hopefully never again see unemployment numbers spike like we did this spring, we must address the shortcomings exposed when Tennessee’s unemployment system struggled to keep up with the needs of our state’s workers who suddenly faced furloughs or the complete loss of a job. We must also continue to invest in programs that give Tennessee adults the opportunity to train for new careers and partnerships that align public education curricula with the needs of employers. At the same time, we must be responsible and attach accountability to our economic development strategies because we have to be good stewards of your money and we have to keep our tax rates and structure competitive for Tennesseans as well as Tennessee businesses.