New Report Confronts Challenges To Tennessee’s Future

Monday, April 8, 2013

A new staff report to the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) says Tennesseans need a shared, long-term vision to make the most of the state’s assets and meet current and future challenges.  Called Charting a Course to Tennessee’s Future, the report offers the best thinking of a cross-section of public officials, private sector leaders, and members of academia on how to envision a better future, work toward common goals, and solve shared problems.

The report notes Tennessee’s many strengths––because of its location and landscapes, it is a natural transportation hub and tourist destination, and its high quality of life continues to attract new businesses and residents.

At the same time, though, Tennesseans are confronting many challenges.  The state’s growing population is also aging, increasing the demand for services from health care to transportation.  As the population ages, the workforce shrinks by comparison even as workers and the businesses that employ them try to adapt to the changes wrought by globalization.

Tennessean’s educational attainment levels and overall health, though improving, lag behind those of residents of other states.  Sharp contrasts of wealth and poverty make developing effective statewide policies to deal with these problems a daunting task.  And, at a time when government at all levels is strapped for resources, public roads and bridges, and water and sewer lines are deteriorating.

Most people interviewed for Charting a Course to Tennessee’s Future were asked, “What do you think Tennessee’s biggest challenges will be over the next 20 years?”  They responded with a wide range of concerns but with surprising agreement, echoing four broad themes centering on people, infrastructure, natural resources, and governance.  More than half of those interviewed said that education is the greatest challenge, citing its effect on the state’s ability to provide a skilled workforce and promote economic development.  They also expressed concern about the effect of education on Tennessean’s health and civic engagement.

The report notes that, like the rest of the United States, Tennessee’s population is not only becoming older but also more racially and ethnically diverse.  The Tennessee Data Center projects that the state’s population will increase by 25% between 2010 and 2040—from 6.3 million to 7.9 million.  At the same time, the population aged 85 and older will more than double, from about 100,000 to 203,500, and the percentage who are children will decrease.  Tennessee’s leaders will need to consider how these changes affect health care, housing, transportation, and education.

The report also notes that Tennesseans face many health problems, from infant mortality to adult-onset diabetes.  Sadly, many of the health problems plaguing the state’s population are rooted in risky personal choices, such as poor eating habits, lack of exercise, smoking, substance abuse, and refusing to wear seatbelts.  Reducing healthcare costs and improving economic productivity will require changing these behaviors.

According to Charting a Course to Tennessee’s Future, Tennessee lacks long-term vision to address these and other challenges.  While pockets of focused thinking can be found in various agencies and organizations, no single representative group is charged with thinking broadly about the future.  Consequently, state agencies, local governments, as well as the private and not-for-profit sectors, sometimes duplicate effort and work at cross-purposes, thus wasting both resources and opportunities.

The report concludes that meeting the challenges of the 21st Century will require continuity of thought and leadership that transcends election terms and intrastate rivalries, as well as greater interaction and coordination within and among all levels of government and the private and nonprofit sectors.  Promising initiatives are underway in a handful of other states, and good work is being done here on a local and regional level.  Some of these plans are discussed in the report.

Whatever the approach, the report suggests that Tennessee should draw on the expertise of various groups and individuals in order to facilitate meaningful discussion of public problems, exploit the wealth of available data, emphasize outcomes more, and provide incentives to encourage better long-term results.


Beltone Announces Grand Opening In Hixson

Beltone is celebrating its grand opening for its newest store located at the Walmart Shopping Center, at 5756 Highway 153, Suite 116 in Hixson on  June 8  at 3 p.m. There is no cost to attend. There will be refreshments and snacks after the ceremony.  Officials said, "Come join us for this occasion with the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, and ... (click for more)

CBL And Associates Properties Declares Common Stock Dividend And Preferred Stock Dividend

CBL & Associates Properties, Inc. announces that its Board of Directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend for the Company’s Common Stock of $0.265 per share for the quarter ending June 30. The dividend is payable on July 16 to shareholders of record as of June 30.  The Board also declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.4609375 per depositary share for the quarter ... (click for more)

Work To Start Later This Year On Major Reworking Of U.S. 27 Downtown; 31 Walls To Be Erected As Cameron Hill Faces More Cuts

Work is set to start later this year on the $80 million reworking of U.S. 27 in downtown Chattanooga. TDOT's Jennifer Flynn said all the right of way has been acquired and construction bids are tentatively scheduled to be opened in August.  The 1.4-mile project includes U.S. 27 from I-24 to south of the Olgiati Bridge.  Work was completed earlier this year on ... (click for more)

East Ridge To Have Saturday Session To Deal With Important Issues; Denny Manning Says He Will Take On Marc Gravitt For State House

Because one of the members was absent from the East Ridge City Council meeting Thursday night, discussions of several important issues that were on the agenda were postponed. The meeting was recessed and will continue on Saturday at 9 a.m. when everyone can be present to consider the city manager’s contract, employee’s insurance, a variance request for a beer permit, a contract ... (click for more)

Erlanger Electronic Medical Records Purchase Doesn't Add Up - And Response

Erlanger has recently announced their decision to purchase a $100,000,000 Electronic Health Information System. Something smells. Erlanger's downtown campus has 760 licensed beds, according to hospital-data. That would equate to $131,578 per bed for this system (now that's a lot of ipads). Please re-read that simple math. I use to manage an Electric Medication Administration ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: General Boykin Helps ‘Warriors’

General W.G. “Jerry” Boykin is one of the most fabled warriors in modern-day warfare. He is also one of the most polarizing men who has ever served his country. General Boykin, retired after 36 years as a soldier, spent 13 years in the secretive Delta Force. At one time he commanded the Green Berets and was in one some pretty impressive engagements. In 1980 he was in on the ... (click for more)