2023 Public Policy Overview
For more than three decades the Chambers of Commerce of Oak Ridge, Blount County and Knoxville have worked together to develop a regional legislative agenda to identify state issues of importance and increase job and business growth in the region. In 2021, the Farragut West Knox and Anderson County Chambers of Commerce joined this initiative. The following items will be the primary focus of this joint effort.
To attract, retain and expand business in our region, we:
- Support local governments' continued ability to promote economic development and affordable housing through public/private partnerships (TIF, PILOT, and Housing Tax Credits) and encourage the State of Tennessee to promote and support these efforts.
- Support the enhancement of infrastructure and training incentives, and the establishment of technology-driven incentives to recruit and retain high-skilled high-wage jobs and further the region's reputation for innovation.
- Advocate for McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base to receive and deploy the K-46 Pegasus refueling aircraft, and its associated Air Force personnel, to capitalize on recent investments at the base.
EDUCATION & WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
To ensure a high-quality, capable workforce in the future, we:
- Encourage the State of Tennessee to implement a "Work in Tennessee" initiative to attract skilled and educated workers to our State to meet the needs of our existing and future employers.
- Support an accountability model for Tennessee school systems that includes seamless pathways and a measure of quality career and technical education, including industry-recognized certifications, work-based learning, dual enrollment and expand post-secondary opportunities, to help reach the state's goal of 55 percent of Tennesseans by 2025 holding post-secondary credentials.
- Support continuation of Tennessee Promise, Tennessee Reconnect and other initiatives that encourage attendance and completion of post-secondary training.
- Oppose any state action that would result in mandating the election of school system superintendents.
- Increase access to quality and affordable childcare, including by incentivizing businesses to provide childcare options to their employees and/or community.
- Support processes and policies to ensure funds allotted to the state and region through the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act are administered equitably, efficiently, and creatively by the East Tennessee Local Workforce Development Board.
To encourage a healthy workforce while not creating financial burden on employers, we:
- Support health policies, particularly those addressing mental health, substance abuse prevention, substance misuse, abuse, and addiction, which improve the welfare of the state's workforce.
- Increase the pipeline of health care workforce.
- Support increase in the Medicare-wage index to raise pay of health care workers in the Knoxville area.
INFRASTRUCTURE & TRANSPORTATION
To provide the infrastructure needed for business to succeed, we:
- Support continued efforts at the local, state and federal level to increase investment in wired and wireless broadband networks, as well as efforts to improve digital literacy, to improve education, medical care and economic opportunities for all Tennesseans.
- Support short- and long-term solutions for interstate congestion and regional arterials that ensure connectivity and mobility for commuters, deliverers of goods and tourists.
- Support efforts to ensure water, sewer, and gas infrastructure is maintained and expanded to accommodate a growing population and economic development opportunities.
- Support efforts to recruit low-cost air carriers and additional flights to and from key markets out of McGhee Tyson Airport.
- Support the efforts to develop the Oak Ridge Airport.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP & SMALL BUSINESS
To create a healthy ecosystem for business start-ups, growth and longevity, we:
- Ensure any proposed data privacy/protection legislation targets large companies profiting from the sale of consumer data and protects small businesses that rely on digital tools for marketing, order fulfillment and other business processes.
- Increase the availability of capital by leveraging funding sources to invest in technology-based firms to foster innovation and the creation of high-skilled, high-paying jobs.