Middle Tennessee Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtable highlights private-public partnerships, transportation electrification initiatives

Stakeholders from government agencies, higher education, and the private sector emphasized the value of the state’s advanced energy economy and opportunities for future development and collaboration

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) hosted its second Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtable, this time focused on Middle Tennessee stakeholders. The event brought together 10 speakers representing three main areas of the state’s advanced energy (AE) economy: government agencies, higher education, and the private sector.

Government Agencies

David Salyers, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), kicked off the event by speaking about the value of EV adoption for the environment and economy, along with the TN Corridor Fast Charging Network, a new partnership between TDEC and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

“We strongly support the goal of becoming the number one state in the country for the EV supply chain,” said Salyers. “We are committed to providing a cleaner, safer environment, and are supportive of more efficient modes of transportation that can reduce emissions, improve air quality, decrease transportation-related energy costs, and drive economic plus job growth across our state.”

Representing the federal perspective, Chris Berryman, Senior Target Market Specialist at TVA, discussed the wide-reaching economic impacts EVs can have on the state’s economy from the EV manufacturing project to the supply chain. He also discussed the effects of EVs on the utility sector and on TVA in particular.

“TVA, along with its State Economic Development Partners, are currently working on approximately $25 billion of new EV manufacturing projects,” said Berryman. “These projects are considering the TVA’s seven-state region along with other competing States in the Southeastern U.S. This equates to a potential job creation of approximately 35,000 new jobs.”

Next, Van Tucker, Chief Executive Officer of Launch Tennessee, spoke about the organization’s many network partners, including the statewide entrepreneur centers and the Energy Mentor Network, run by TAEBC in partnership with LaunchTN. She also provided an update about the restoration of State Matching Funds for federal SBIR/STTR grant recipients across the state.

“Those funds are important because federal funds are restricted as to how those dollars can be spent,” said Tucker. “The State Matching Funds are unrestricted and can be used for things like hiring a business development officer, launching a website, or even hiring an attorney to secure your IP. As a company, you’re able to use those funds that really help grow and scale a business.”

Wrapping up the government agency portion of presentations, Victoria Hirschberg, Director of Business Development at Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD), spoke about TNECD’s mission to make the state a leader in the EV supply chain and referred to the sector as a “very fluid and active.”

“There is a lot going on in our state and I’m really proud to be part of it,” said Hirschberg. “I think as we continue to build out this network and talk to companies that are interested in doing business, having meetings like this is so important.”

Higher Education

Both Flora Tydings, Chancellor of Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), and Claude Pressnell, President of Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA), returned for the second Business Roundtable to discuss higher education’s role in the AE sector.

Tydings provided an overview of TBR’s mission, AE programming, and how TBR received an additional $80 million from the state’s budget to increase what the system is doing with technical education, reduce the technical education waitlist, and look directly at what they are doing in the AE sector.

“We are always looking toward the economic development of our state,” said Tydings. “We are dedicated to making sure we place students. Right now, our rate for placement is at 89 percent. So, if you graduate from one of our programs, 89 percent of our students have received a job immediately after graduation in their field of study.”

Following Tydings’ presentation, Pressnell gave an overview of TICUA campuses and students, various public-private partnerships across the state, and engineering programs that were created to specifically meet the needs of local employers.

“The focus on science, the focus on technology is pretty critical to us. We rely very heavily upon corporate advisory committees to be able to shape our curriculum so that we can meet the needs of local and statewide employers,” said Pressnell. “We are very responsive to the corporate needs in the area.”

Private Sector

Moving into the private sector portion of the webinar, Jim DeMouy, Vice President of Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability at Bridgestone Americas and TAEBC Board Member, highlighted Bridgestone’s environmental mission and key milestones, along with renewable energy goals for its operations, products and technologies. DeMouy also highlighted two of the company’s environmental milestones it is set to reach by 2030.

“One is to increase the recycled and renewable content of our products to 40% by 2030,” said DeMouy. “The second was to move to an absolute emissions reduction, which again goes to the energy discussions we’re having here, by 50 percent by 2030.”

Finally, two representations from Nissan Group of Americas closed the presentation portion of the event. Chris Goddard, Manager of Energy and Environmental, and Mike Clemmer, Director of Corporate & Manufacturing Facilities and Environmental, presented about Nissan’s efforts to accelerate toward carbon neutrality and electrification, including EVs, battery innovations, intelligent factories, and a greener energy supply.

“Like a lot of companies, earlier this year, globally, we made the announcement to be carbon neutral by 2050. If you look at just Tennessee operations, we have improved our efficiency by close to 40 percent,” said Goddard. “And we’re very excited about the electrification of our fleet.”

Following presentations, speakers answered a range of audience questions on building up the infrastructure of the state’s AE economy, EV supply chain efforts, private-public partnership, workforce development, and recent electrification updates across the state.

“It was really exciting to join TVA earlier this year by trying to remove some of the barriers to adoption,” said Commissioner Salyers about the launch of the TN Corridor Fast Charging Network and future EV initiatives.

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Advanced Energy Business Roundtable for West Tennessee emphasizes importance of electrification, collaboration

Stakeholders from state government, higher education and the private sector discuss the state’s advanced energy sector and opportunities for future growth and collaboration

On April 13, the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) hosted its first Advanced Energy Business Roundtable focused on West Tennessee. The event brought together individuals from three significant areas of the state’s advanced energy (AE) economy: state government, higher education and the private sector. Speakers spoke about the electric vehicle (EV) supply chain, creating AE jobs and how to boost state economic development through AE collaborations.

State Government 

The event began with insight from stakeholders in state government. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s Director of Business Development Chassen Haynes shared TNECD’s vision to create a cohesive statewide network to become the number one state in the country for the EV supply chain. He also discussed EV efforts that will cultivate an AE economy to attract and retain innovative businesses across the state.

“Governor Lee has charged our department with making sure Tennessee is at the forefront of these changes and making sure the state is positioned to make itself number one in the nation for EV production,” Haynes said. “It’s an exciting time for Tennessee and an exciting time for the automotive industry.”

Next, Launch Tennessee’s Chief Executive Officer Van Tucker spoke about the value of the Energy Mentor Network and providing easy access to capital for growing or emerging businesses.

“Our goal for the next fiscal year is that we’re going to put a focused strategy together to recruit, retain, expand, and grow our mentor network and advanced energy industry in the state of Tennessee,” Tucker said. 

Higher Education

Afterward, attendees heard from higher education partners. During her presentation, Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) Chancellor Flora Tyding outlined TBR’s current AE focus across the state and what a transition to support the sector might look like. 

“We have a very succinct mission: student success and workforce development,” Tyding said. “We are your partners in the advanced energy environment.”

Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA) President Claude Pressnell highlighted what private campuses are doing to explore and support AE development and how the private sector can collaborate with private institutions.

“One thing that I want to share with you all is the importance of collaboration, whether it be collaboration with the board of regents, independent colleges, the UT System, locally governed four-year universities, and whether you do that locally or statewide,” Pressnell said. 

Private Sector

Rounding out the event, attendees heard from two major private-sector players in the state’s AE economy. First, Silicon Ranch’s Chairman and TAEBC Board Member Matt Kisber emphasized  how collaboration in the AE economy works now and how it could work by implementing more strategy and intentionality with various stakeholders across the state.

“Organizations like TAEBC were developed to support bringing these various voices together so that they can collaborate, share information, and know who is out there that can fulfill and need or void in the development of a project, technology, or what’s necessary to move forward,” Kisber said.

FedEx’s Environmental Affairs & Chief Sustainability Officer Mitch Jackson wrapped up the presentation portion of the event by outlining FedEx’s transportation electrification goals, and speaking about how the state and AE economy can support these efforts, along ith opportunities for improvement.

“We announced we were going to take FedEx carbon neutral by 2040 for our global operations,” Jackson said. “Companies like FedEx are trying to transform not only themselves but their industries with respect to renewable energy, advanced technologies, zero carbon strategies and the like.”

Following the presentations, speakers answered a range of audience questions, including what are the biggest selling points for recruiting and retaining advanced energy businesses and specifics about EV developments in the state. 

“Having the ability to convene and organize all the stakeholders like we are doing today and continuing those dialogues and discussions, setting priorities, helping inform policy, it is going to be critically important,” Kisber said. “Bringing everybody together is going to be critically important so that we’re not just having one-off conversations but we’re talking as a community and focusing on how to move forward together.”

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Join the critical discussion on how to leverage advanced energy to ignite economic development despite pandemic uncertainty

If you aren’t already a part of the advanced energy economy, you are most likely thinking of how you can jump into this wave of innovation to position your organization toward future economic solutions. Where do you start? Who are your partners in making this pivot? How do you get better connected to find the skilled workforce needed to make your business more competitive and the state more attractive?

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) wants to help answer some of those questions. What resources does the state offer to support your growth or new interest in the advanced energy economy? How do you better engage with the higher education campuses around you to recruit employees?

Where can you recommend your employees go to get the education they need to make the pivot with you? How can you keep the discussions going with educational partners to ensure the ecosystem around your organization is working together towards strategic economic growth? How can you engage other businesses involved in the advanced energy economy and EV supply chain to create more alignment and cohesion?

Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtable – West Tennessee

TAEBC is bringing together government officials, business executives and higher education leaders next month to share their expertise and insight about how our state can create a collaborative network to drive economic development through the advanced energy (AE) sector. The first of three Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtables will take place April 13, 2021, beginning at 10:00 a.m. CT / 11:00 a.m. ET, and focus on West Tennessee.  

At the April event, attendees will hear brief presentations from speakers representing the three major stakeholders in the future of the AE economy: state government, higher education and private sector. However, the majority of the hour long discussion will be focused on hearing from business leaders and entrepreneurs in regards to what they are experiencing, what additional information they need and any questions they may have for the community. The point of this roundtable discussion is to advance Tennessee’s AE economy and become the number one state in the country for the electric vehicle supply chain through dialogue, networking and action items. 

Speakers representing these three areas include: Department of Economic and Community Development’s Director of Business Development Chassen Haynes, Launch Tennessee’s Chief Executive Officer Van Tucker, Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora Tyding, Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association President Claude Pressnell, Silicon Ranch’s co-founder Matt Kisber, and FedEx’s Environmental Affairs & Chief Sustainability Officer Mitch Jackson.

Stakeholder #1: State government 

From the state government perspective, Hanyes will share the state’s vision-to create a cohesive statewide network to become the  number one state in the country for the electric vehicle supply chain. Additionally, these efforts will cultivate an advanced energy economy to attract and retain innovative businesses. Tucker will then share LaunchTN’s perspective and about the value of the Energy Mentor Network and providing necessary access to capital for companies across the state.

Stakeholder #2: Higher education 

Attendees will also hear from the higher education side, with Tydings discussing the Tennessee Board of Regents’ current advanced energy focus and outline what a transition to support AE might look like. Pressnell will provide perspective on how private campuses are exploring and supporting AE as well as how private sector partners can collaborate for future opportunities. 

Stakeholder #3: Private sector 

As a former Tennessee State Representative and TNECD Commissioner, Kisber has a unique perspective for bridging the gap between state government and the private sector. Speaking from the perspective of Silicon Ranch Corporation, Kisber will discuss how collaboration in the AE sector works now and how it could work in Tennessee with some strategy and intentionality. Lastly, Jackson will outline FedEx’s electrification goals and new sustainability goals, along with the progress they have made in this area in recent years. He will also discuss how the state and the overall AE economy can support the private sector and offer opportunities for improvement.  

Want to attend this event? Register here.

TAEBC is hosting three Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtables!

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council will host virtual business roundtables in each region and a statewide Energy Incentives webinar to create a cohesive statewide network to become the number one state in the country for the electric vehicle supply chain. Additionally, these efforts will cultivate an advanced energy economy to attract and retain innovative businesses. 

Virtual Event Schedule

  • West Tennessee -April 13, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. CT / 11:00 a.m. ET
    • To attend, RSVP here.
  • Middle Tennessee – June 9, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. CT / 11:00 a.m. ET 
    • To attend, RSVP here.
  • Statewide Energy Incentives Webinar – August 3, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. CT/10 a.m. ET (2 hours)
  • East Tennessee – October 13, 2021 at 10:00 am CT/11:00 am ET

Purpose of These Events

  • Guide communication and outreach efforts regarding advanced energy
  • Identify areas to build the network to support a progressing EV supply chain in the state and cultivate an advanced energy economy to attract and retain innovative businesses
  • Connect businesses with higher education and technical campuses to discuss evolving needs
  • Gather information to share with the Council and stakeholders regarding workforce challenges
  • Increase feedback regarding existing energy incentives and desired incentives 

Partners

  1. TAEBC Members
  2. Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD)
  3. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)
  4. Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN)
  5. UT-System  
  6. Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR)
  7. Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA)
  8. Regional Chambers of Commerce Partners
  9. Tennessee Valley Authority

Attendees

  1. Business leaders with a focus and role in the advanced energy economy
  2. Members of each partner organization

Register here for the Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtable for West Tennessee. Registration for Middle and West Tennessee Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtables will open soon.