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Blog Category: Nashville

Secretary Pritzker Completes Third Leg of National Listening Tour

Phot of Prizker touring the EC

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker wrapped up the third leg of her nationwide listening tour, during which she is traveling across the country to meet with businesses and thought leaders, entrepreneurs, academics and Department of Commerce employees. While in Nashville, Tenn. and Pella and Des Moines, IA, she heard from various groups and industry representatives about their priorities, concerns and ideas on how the public and private sectors can work together to strengthen the economy and create American jobs.

“Nashville, Pella, and Des Moines epitomize the entrepreneurial spirit that is driving economic development and job creation in the United States,” said Secretary Pritzker. “From leveraging the creative economy to making investments in advanced manufacturing, businesses in these states are getting it right. As I continue my listening tour over the next few weeks, I’m looking forward to hearing more from businesses and entrepreneurs about how the Department can serve as a bridge to the business community to protect, promote, inform and anticipate what America needs to be competitive and innovative in the 21st century.”

In Nashville, Secretary Pritzker visited the Entrepreneur Center, a nonprofit business incubator that helps connect entrepreneurs with investors, mentors and resources that are crucial to accelerating the launch of their startup businesses. While at the EC, Secretary Pritzker toured the facilities with its president and CEO Dr. Michael Burcham and met with facility staff and young entrepreneurs working in a wide variety of fields, and heard how funds from a grant from the Department’s Economic Development Administration enabled them to expand capacity three-fold. The secretary was also joined by the team from Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) regional office in Memphis, and encouraged collaboration between MBDA and the entrepreneurs who work with the center.

Secretary Pritzker then headed to Iowa where she visited Jaarsma Bakery and toured operations at Vermeer Corporation in Pella. Over its 65 year history, Vermeer has grown to become competitive on a global scale, earning a Presidential award for exports, in recognition of their efforts to increase exports. Vermeer serves customers with forage, specialty excavation, environmental and underground equipment products to more effectively and responsibly work farms and ranches, improve infrastructure, and manage natural resources. She also visited Dwolla, Inc. and the Iowa State Fair.

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Secretary Pritzker Tours Loud Recording Studios and Speaks With Music and Entertainment Industry Leaders

Secretary Pritzker Tours Loud Recording Studios and Speaks With Music and Entertainment Industry Leaders

Today, as part of her nationwide listening tour, Secretary Penny Pritzker toured Loud Recording Studios with Cary Sherman, Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Jim Catino, Vice President of A&R for Sony Music Nashville. The music industry is a vibrant part of Nashville’s economy and the American economy as a whole. In fact, entertainment, literary and artistic originals contributed $74 billion to the U.S. economy last year, according to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

According to a report by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Music City Music Council, the music industry sustains more than 56,000 jobs and contributes both to the local economy and the region’s gross domestic product.

During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker not only discussed how the music and entertainment industries are contributing to the health of the creative economy, but also the key role the Commerce Department plays in supporting and protecting intellectual property and innovation.

Secretary Pritzker Tours Entrepreneur Center in Nashville, Tennessee

Secretary Pritzker receives a demonstration from one of the entrepreneur inside the Nashville Entrepreneur Center

Today, Secretary Penny Pritzker continued her successful nationwide listening tour with a stop at the Entrepreneur Center in Nashville, Tenn. This was her first stop in “Music City, USA” and provided her with an opportunity to hear how the center supports business start-ups and job growth.

The Entrepreneur Center (EC), a nonprofit business incubator, helps connect entrepreneurs with investors, mentors and resources that are crucial to accelerating the launch of their startup businesses. The EC houses 80 startups and was created through a public-private initiative, the Nashville Chamber of Commerce’s Partnership 2010, in 2007.

Following a catastrophic flood in May 2010, the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) invested $2.5 million in the EC in 2011 to renovate an historic building, the Trolley Barn, which tripled the facility’s capacity. The investment is also helping mitigate economic impacts of future disasters and helping build a stronger, more disaster-resilient economy.

Commerce’s EDA Investing to Strengthen Tennessee Businesses and Grow Nashville’s Hospitality Industry

Workers prepare to reconstruct flooded road (File photo: National Park Service)

Guest blog post by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez

Between March and May of 2010, severe storms and floods devastated many parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, Nebraska and Rhode Island. While Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is not a first responder to such disasters, the agency quickly got to work assessing the damage and connecting with local leaders regarding their needs as they began to pick up the pieces and rebuild. Recognizing the critical role that EDA can play for these communities, Congress provided $49 million in supplemental funding for EDA to award to these states to help them in their recovery efforts.

Last week, businesses in Tennessee got some good holiday news, when EDA announced its investment of $5.8 million to help build critical infrastructure to support Tennessee businesses and jobs and to develop a strategic marketing strategy to grow the Nashville hospitality sector following the floods of 2010.

These grants will assist in Tennessee’s recovery and redevelopment efforts by funding the necessary improvements that will ensure the resilience of physical and economic infrastructure and include:

  • $2 million to the Jackson Energy Authority to build core sewer infrastructure to protect major regional employers, including the Jackson-Madison Hospital and numerous industrial and manufacturing businesses, from flooding. The project is expected to result in the retention of 9,690 jobs, according to grantee estimates;
  • $1.49 million to the city of Dyersburg to help build an elevated water storage tank that will improve water capacity for manufacturing and industrial businesses and will serve new tracts of land being developed outside of the flood plain to accommodate business needs. The project is expected to save 433 jobs, create 200 jobs and generate $4 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates;
  • $1.3 million to Conexion Americas of Nashville to help build the Casa Azafran Community Center, which will provide expanded business startup or expansion assistance to Latino small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs;
  • $1 million to the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau to implement a regional marketing strategy that will support the city’s economic recovery by promoting the hospitality industry, which lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the wake of the flooding that impacted the city in 2010.

In announcing the grant, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson said “The Obama administration is committed to helping communities impacted by natural disasters rebuild stronger and smarter to protect businesses and jobs. These critical EDA investments will provide the infrastructure needed to help keep businesses running and workers productive in the event of future floods, expand vital business assistance to Nashville’s Latino community and help Nashville revitalize its critical hospitality sector to create new jobs.”

In May 2010, President Obama signed the Tennessee Disaster Declaration and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, flooding, straight-line winds, and tornadoes beginning on April 30, 2010, and continuing. The president's action made Federal funding available to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Secretaries Locke and Donovan Tour Nashville, Memphis Flood-Damaged Areas

Locke with residentsAt the request of President Barack Obama, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan toured areas affected by the recent flooding in Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., today. The secretaries assessed the damage, talked to residents and discussed long-term recovery plans with local elected officials and community leaders. The secretaries toured the impacted areas and held brief press availabilities in each city.