Nashville, TN – Governor-elect Phil Bredesen today named banker and former State Representative Matt Kisber as the next commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
Kisber, who retired from the Tennessee General Assembly in November to pursue other interests, is vice president for business development at First Tennessee Bank. During his 20 years in the state House of Representatives, Kisber was instrumental in passing key measures related to economic development.
Kisber wrote and co-sponsored 1998 legislation creating Tennessee’s Job Skills Program, which makes job training grants to companies that provide high-skill, high-wage jobs in technology and manufacturing. In 1996, he pushed for workers’ compensation reform legislation that, among other improvements, established a workers’ comp fraud unit in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Kisber led passage of a 1993 bill establishing business-tax credits for companies that create jobs and grow in Tennessee.
“Matt has a proven track record in business and economic development,” Bredesen said. “He knows we must grow the economy for Tennessee’s future, and he knows how to recruit jobs professionally and effectively. He will be a strong salesman for our state.”
The Department of Economic and Community Development is responsible for attracting new jobs to Tennessee by recruiting domestic and international companies to the state, and by helping existing companies expand. The department helps individual communities improve economic development strategies and offers support services to entrepreneurs.
As commissioner, Kisber will play an integral role in Bredesen’s new Jobs Cabinet, which will include leaders from several departments—including Economic and Community Development, Education and Labor and Workforce Development—to coordinate job-creation efforts.
“Growing our economy has always been a top priority for me, both as a businessman and a lawmaker,” Kisber said. “Recruiting new better-paying jobs is essential to maintaining and enhancing our exceptional quality of life here in Tennessee.”
Kisber was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1982 and, from 1997 to 2002, served as chairman of the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee. Over the years, he has led select joint committees in the General Assembly on business taxes, electric deregulation and workers compensation. Nationally, Kisber led a 19-state committee for the National Conference of State Legislatures to consider ways to simplify and streamline sales-tax administration.
Kisber, 42, is a Jackson native. He sits on the boards of several organizations, including the Tennessee Holocaust Commission, the Miss Tennessee Scholarship Pageant and the Tennessee State Museum Foundation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Vanderbilt University, Nashville.