In a room filled with more than a hundred highway and bridge contractors, yesterday Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam helped kick off the Tennessee Road Builder Association’s "Day on the Hill" event.  Haslam’s was a welcome voice to this group of business men and women who wanted to hear about ideas for growth, as well as future plans for the transportation industry in Tennessee.

"It matters that you’re here," Haslam said to the participants. "It’s really about people who make their passions and positions known in a way that the legislators can understand."

Haslam equated the state budgetary process to what businesses need to do: "What we are going to do going forward is take a whole different look at state government. We are going to do the same thing you do in your business."  Haslam then outlined some ideas to get the budget aligned, as well as how to promote growth.  "I don’t think the Legislature creates jobs.  I think businesses do."

According to Haslam, the following three issues are key to a job development plan:

  • Play offense.   It is important for the Administration to do what it can to attract businesses to Tennessee, whether through incentives or other efforts. 
  • Review regulations.  It is also important to review current regulations to identify those that restrict growth.  While there is a need for regulation and oversight in any industry, including construction and transportation, there is a point where over-regulation stifles growth and you simply need to "get out" of their way.
  • Analyze risk.  According to Haslam, businesses must be empowered to grow.  This can be done by taking part of the risk out of capital investment, primarily through tort report.  By addressing tort reform, Haslam’s plan seeks to make the state more attractive to businesses seeking to relocate to Tennessee. 

You can listen to an audio version of Haslam’s talk to the TRBA (.wav file).

Image: Kent Starwalt