Report: Tenn. outperforms much of the country attracting foreign investment

Feb 26, 2019

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT/AP)  --  A new report says Tennessee is punching well above its weight-class when it comes to attracting foreign investment.

Credit mtsu/berc

Middle Tennessee State University Economist Steven Livingston is out with a study that says foreign companies invested more than $1.5 billion in the state last year. It’s the fourth time in five years Tennessee has hit or exceeded that mark. Livingston also says foreign companies created more than 3,000 new jobs here last year alone.

“There’s upwards of a quarter of the manufacturing workforce that’s in Tennessee is in a foreign owned firm somewhere in the state.”

Volkswagen is launching a new vehicle assembly line at it’s plant in Chattanooga. That new line accounts for the largest single investment last year. In addition, Livingston says 2018 saw five Japanese companies invest more than $600 million in the state.

“As long as I’ve been tracking this stuff foreign investment in Tennessee is led by the Japanese and it was last year too. That’s primarily because of the automotive connection.”

Dr. Steven Livingston, BERC, Middle Tennessee State Univ.
Credit mtsu.edu

There’s one down note in the report. Livingston says Tennessee business leaders were expecting more investment by Chinese firms last year, but that didn’t happen. He says Canada can also be relied on to make sizeable new investments each year, but Candian investment was off as well.

Livingston says that in both cases the downturn is likely due to the Trump Administration’s ongoing efforts to reshape the nation’s trade relationships.

Would you like to read Dr. Livingston’s complete report?