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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Don’t miss TAEBC’s second webinar about how to use the advanced energy sector to stimulate economic growth

Did you attend and enjoy the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council’s (TAEBC) first Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtable focused on West Tennessee? Maybe you missed it or are looking forward to hearing from stakeholders in your region? TAEBC will host its second Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtable, focusing on Middle Tennessee stakeholders, on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, beginning at 10:00 a.m. CT / 11:00 a.m. ET.

Middle Tennessee: Advanced Energy Virtual Business Roundtable

Like the first event focused on West Tennessee, TAEBC’s second webinar will bring together government officials, business executives and higher education leaders 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. 

For this event, seven speakers will represent each of these three areas, including: David Salyers, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC); Chris Berryman, Senior Target Market Specialist at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Van Tucker, CEO of Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN); Victoria Hirschberg, Director of Business Development at the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD); Jim DeMouy, Vice President of Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability at Bridgestone Americas and TAEBC Board Member; Dr. Claude Pressnell, Jr., President of Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA); Dr. Flora Tydings, Chancellor, Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR); Chris Goddard Manager, Energy and Environmental, Nissan Group of Americas; and Mike Clemmer, Director, Corporate & Manufacturing Facilities & Environmental, Nissan Group of Americas.

Stakeholder #1: Government agencies

From the state government perspective, Commissioner Salyers will kick off the event, speaking about the TN Corridor Fast Charging Network and goals to make the state the electric vehicle (EV) epicenter of the Southeast. From LaunchTN’s perspective, Tucker will highlight the value of the Energy Mentor Network and provide an update about the SBIR/STTR Matching Fund program. 

Next, Hirschberg will discuss TNECD’s vision to create a cohesive statewide network to become the number one state in the country for the electric vehicle supply chain. Additionally, she will speak about efforts to cultivate an AE economy to attract and retain innovative businesses.

At TVA, a federally owned corporation, Berryman offers a unique perspective for bridging the gap between federal government and higher education and private sectors. He will discuss the economic impact of EVs and the impact of EVs on the utility sector.

Stakeholder #2: Higher education 

Attendees will also hear from the higher education side of the conversation, with Tydings discussing TBR’s current advanced energy focus and outline what a transition to support AE might look like. From TICUA, 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 

During his presentation, DeMouy will highlight Bridgestone Americas’ corporate sustainability goals and the progress they are making toward meeting these targets. Finally, Goddard and Clemmer will wrap up the presentation by discussing Nissan’s sustainability goals and milestones.

The presentations will be followed by audience Q&A. Want to attend the event? Register here.

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.

TAEBC Op-Ed: Advanced energy means jobs for Tennesseans

(Originally appeared on The Knoxville News Sentinel

By Cortney Piper, Executive Director, Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council

By almost any metric, Tennessee had a strong 2020 in advanced energy, a robust sector with 18,000 businesses contributing nearly $40 billion to the state’s gross domestic product. And the year’s growth in the state’s electric vehicle landscape received national and international headlines. As that happened, more elected officials realized that advanced energy means job creation, which stretches beyond political lines and helps Tennesseans directly in a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has tightened other areas of employment.

Among the 2020 victories are General Motors’ $2 billion plan for its electric vehicle plant in Spring Hill that will build Cadillac’s SUV. Volkswagen announced its own EV SUV at its Chattanooga plant. Last January, VW, the University of Tennessee, the UT Research Foundation and Oak Ridge National Laboratory partnered on VW’s first innovation hub in North America at the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm. And in the fall, VW broke ground on a $22 million Chattanooga lab to test EV batteries.

With leadership from Gov. Bill Lee, Tennesseans can anticipate more growth in advanced energy and job creation. Electric vehicles are a primary focus for state resources, which included incentives for the GM plant. Nissan and VW have also worked closely with state and local government over the years.

Bob Rolfe, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, said that Lee’s goal is to make Tennessee the country’s most business-friendly state and praised the EV progress in a December Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) webinar. Electric vehicle jobs are advanced energy jobs. And transportation electrification can pull us through this pandemic-induced economic downturn just like energy has done countless times before, starting in 1933 with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

To continue reading this article, follow this link. For more information about how the advanced energy sector creates high-quality jobs and fuels growth for existing businesses, read Piper’s earlier guest column, “Transportation electrification can recharge Tennessee’s economy.”