Google invested $600 million into a new data center at Clarksville, bringing 70 jobs to the area. Advanced Munitions International invested $553 million to build its global headquarters in Alcoa, providing 605 jobs to the area. DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee Inc brought 500 jobs to Blount County by investing $400 million into expanding its manufacturing facilities and building a new warehouse in Maryville. However, the problem, according to some leaders, is the top six projects touted as the primary reasons Tennessee received the award and became the State of the Year do not include any in West Tennessee. State leaders familiar with West Tennessee said the focus should be not only on bringing jobs to the entire state, but in preparing residents in the state for those jobs when they come. It’s about developing a workforce ready, capable, and prepared for industry when it arrives. Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) said he is a proud West Tennessean who serves on the Tennessee Labor and Workforce Development Board. “State of the Year is a state of mind in Tennessee,” Norris said. “The General Assembly takes pride in our progress. We work hard as a team to provide pathways to prosperity in employment, education, and economic opportunity. Maintaining our momentum is always important. But, culturing innovative ways to expand upon it statewide with a skilled workforce is essential.” Leaders in West Tennessee said they not only spend their time working to bring industry to their part of the state, they also work to utilize the resources available to them to prepare their citizens for job growth. They agree with Norris that it must be a statewide approach. “It’s not just one spoke on a wheel. You can’t just bring a bunch of industry and jobs without a workforce that is available and ready for the industry,” Bolivar Mayor Barrett Stevens said.
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