Cortney Piper headshotBy Cortney Piper, Executive Director 

Upon its founding, the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council introduced the unfamiliar term of advanced energy to the state in hopes of supporting this promising sector of our economy. Over the years, we have been hard at work increasing the visibility of advanced energy and championing it as an important economic development and job creation strategy. Recent transportation electrification announcements in our state indicate that our initial premise was right all along: Advanced energy means jobs for Tennesseans. 

Looking ahead into 2022, I am optimistic about growing regional awareness for advanced energy economic developments, automotive powerhouses recognizing our state’s electric vehicle vision and international players viewing Tennessee as a global leader in this exciting industry.

Regional awareness

With every win the state gets in advanced energy, the public’s idea of how the industry creates jobs and economic development becomes clearer. More and more major brand names are making huge investments in Tennessee. These companies are choosing Tennessee, are betting big on advanced energy and are going to have a long-term presence here.

I’ve also seen how providing local companies (that may not have the name recognition of a Ford or a Volkswagen) with the platform to share their success in the advanced energy sector can bring further clarity to advanced energy developments. Regional awareness comes from providing an opportunity for these companies to explain how they’re a part of advanced energy, and ultimately, how their efforts benefit Tennesseans. I look forward to TAEBC continuing to support this crucial piece of the puzzle.

Automotive advancements

Recently, our attention has been fixed on the state’s economic boost from the automotive developments. The business council fully supports our state’s goal of making Tennessee number one in the country for the EV supply chain. Given our history with the automotive industry, thanks to the vision of then Gov. Lamar Alexander, I feel like it is perfectly reasonable to set a big bold goal that Tennessee will not merely lead the region, but the country in EV manufacturing. It is a bold, ambitious goal, but I know it’s attainable. Not only because of the foresight of then Gov. Alexander, but because of all the investments that have come to Tennessee thanks to the Lee administration. 

These investments at the state level are coupled with the work the Tennessee Valley Authority has done and committed to in regards to transportation electrification. That big bold goal of making Tennessee the number one state in the country for the EV supply chain is truly possible. I think we’re at the forefront of something big.

International investment

Recently released data points to Tennessee as a leader in foreign investment, and we know that countries outside of the U.S. have set very, very bold goals related to emission reduction and increased use of clean energy – so when that foreign investment comes into the State of Tennessee, they’re bringing those sustainability policies with them. We have already seen that when international companies open up in Tennessee, they want more access to renewable energy and energy-efficient technology and manufacturing processes. 

As those foreign investments increase, and as American companies continue to expand sustainability innovation, we are going to see a lot of those foreign investments set the pace for our advanced energy economy. 

Our leadership role in this space is illuminated in our economic impact reports, so my hope is that TAEBC continues to serve as the convener and facilitator of all of the growth to showcase to the public, state officials, business leaders, academia and research institutions, telling them: “Look at what is in the our great state.” Once you recognize, celebrate and showcase what is here – you can keep it here and see exponential, long-term growth in  advanced energy in Tennessee. 

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