Brookings Report Provides Tennessee Roadmap For Automotive Manufacturing Growth

Friday, October 4, 2013

A report released Friday by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program touts Tennessee’s automotive manufacturing industry as the “southern automotive powerhouse” and issues recommendations that could increase Tennessee’s competiveness in the global auto marketplace.

According to Brookings, Tennessee’s automotive is strong and could be even brighter if the state develops strategies to grow the supplier network, develop more high skilled workers, and foster a culture of innovation. Succeeding on these dimensions will ensure that the state remains a top choice for automotive industry expansion amid increasing competition in the global automotive market.

In its report, titled “Drive! Moving Tennessee’s Automotive Sector Up the Value Chain,” Brookings writes, “Tennessee has emerged as a southern automotive powerhouse. The state’s original underlying strengths—a strategic, low-cost location equipped with excellent transportation infrastructure—have been enhanced in the last decade and now position Tennessee quite well in the face of a number of disruptive megatrends that will alter the global industry. Despite growing domestic and international competition the state’s prospects are in fact bright.”

Brookings, the highly-respected research and policy organization, affirms Tennessee’s position as a leader in the North American automotive industry, including:

·         The state is  home to the largest auto industry in the South in terms of employment, and supply chain employment;

·         An industry profile with 650 automotive businesses (direct employment) including three original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – Volkswagen, Nissan and General Motors;

·         More than 94,000 Tennesseans work in automotive manufacturing; 12,000 work directly for VW, Nissan and GM; and 82,000 more (78 percent of the industry) in the supply chain.

·         A network expanding across 75 of the state’s 95 counties.

·         An industry that accounts for more than one-third of all state manufacturing jobs;

·         The driving force of Tennessee’s recession recovery,   responsible for 12 percent of all job creation since 2008. From 2010 – 2012 employment increased by an average 16.1 percent compared to 1.8 percent for the overall economy.

“Our industry is a primary driver of Tennessee’s economy and a major contributor to prosperity and quality of life of our citizens,” said Tom Brewer, president of the Tennessee Automotive Manufacturers Association (TAMA).  “This success happened over a 30-year period due to strong leadership, policies and business-friendly fundamentals that have positioned Tennessee for an exceptional future as the headquarters of Southern automotive manufacturing.”

Brookings identifies three strategies designed to keep Tennessee on this path and propel the state forward:

·         Prioritize growth of the supplier marketplace by implementing policies that create avenues for exporting, reward research and development and improve access to capital for technology transfer and capital expenditures. The state should also play a role in encouraging suppliers to collaborate.

·         Lead the way in developing creative solutions to resolve the workforce challenges for large automakers and small and medium-sized companies. The report recommends a state-led effort that leverages its regional economic development zones to create training programs tailored to the automotive specialties in those regions.

·         Encourage innovation through research and development tax credits and facilitate collaboration between private industry and the state’s research institutions to help overcome competition from lower-cost countries and will move Tennessee from a primarily production location to a center of excellence for innovation and research and development

In addition to comprehensively analyzing the state’s automotive assets and opportunities, the report outlines a number of challenges that could threaten the state’s top position, including:

·         Cost pressures remain intense. Wages are converging across the United States and free-trade agreements make low-cost countries like Mexico attractive for new location decisions;

·         A shortage of skilled workers threatens expansion of existing firms;

·         Changing preferences of drivers and regulatory requirements will require automakers to develop and implement new technologies more quickly. Innovation and research and development expertise is needed at all levels of the supply chain, the report states.

The Brookings study recommends increased private and public sector support of a strong industry association to “market and advocate for the industry and facilitate networking, learning, and supply chain activities.”

“As the state’s leading automotive industry organization, TAMA is excited to support our state’s leaders as they take steps to drive Tennessee’s most important advanced industry forward,” said Mr. Brewer. 


GDOL To Help Roper Recruit Manufacturing Workers Friday In Summerville

Roper Corporation, a division of GE, will recruit about 80 manufacturing workers for its LaFayette facility Friday. The recruitment will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Chattooga County Civic Center, 44 Highway 48 in Summerville.  The company, which manufactures kitchen stoves and microwaves, will be hiring production and assembly-line workers. Salaries begin at $12.30 ... (click for more)

Multiple Trial Errors In Memphis Case Result In New Trial For Defendant

The Tennessee Supreme Court has granted a new trial in a Memphis case in which a man was convicted of rape of a child. In 2012, Frederick Herron was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the rape of his ex-wife’s younger sister. The victim, who said she was between the ages of eight and 12 when the rapes occurred, lived with her sister and the defendant at the time they were ... (click for more)

Robber Who Was Shot At Rossville Boulevard Car Lot Dies; No Charges To Be Filed

Police said a person who was shot during a robbery attempt at a car lot at 4314 Rossville Blvd. around 1:50 p.m. on Thursday has died. Police said the shooting has been ruled a "justifiable homicide" and no charges will be brought against 27-year-old Alan Miller. The shooting in which the robbery victim shot the suspect was at Miller Auto Sales. (click for more)

Man Charged In Shooting On Sixth Avenue Had Been Shot Himself Last Week; Police Say Incident "Part Of Gang War"

A man charged with attempted first-degree murder on Sixth Avenue Court on Thursday afternoon was shot himself earlier this month. O'Shae Kadaris Smith, 20, of 2114 E. 12th St., is also charged with reckless endangerment, aggravated assault and possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime. He was one of two people shot on Rawlings Street on March 16. Kendre Allen, ... (click for more)

Finley Stadium Needs To Grow Up - And Response

RE:  Finley Stadium Financial Picture Rosy; Beer And Alcohol Sales Approved; AstroTurf Almost Ready and City, County Pitching In $250,000 Each For New Finley Stadium AstroTurf I read a story here five days ago about a rosy future for Finley stadium. It lead me to believe that the stadium was making money and even improvements with donations.  Then we get a short ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Mom’s Parting Instructions

My mother, Helen Exum, went to be with the Lord in late August of last year and, in the way folks do, I was going through some of her files last week when I ran across an envelope with my name on it. Inside was a story and written in her hand were the words, “This is a wonderful story for you to tell!” Not being one to disobey my mother and not about to waylay the wishes of the ... (click for more)