According to Tennessee’s Department of Economic & Community Development, the state is quickly emerging as a prime location for everything from manufacturing facilities and data centers to research facilities and global companies.
Tennessee is renowned for having a highly qualified workforce, which can be attributed to this state’s wide array of educational resources, overseen by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, a coordinating body for the state’s public colleges, universities and technology centers. Tennessee also provides a number of educational incentives to improve the quality of its academic performance, such as the Performance Funding Program, the Ned McWherter Scholars program and the Chairs of Excellence. The educational resources Tennessee offers has increased enrollment in the state’s business schools. These business students are frequently choosing to major in international business, pursuing degrees in everything from international finance and international marketing to international accounting and international business management.
According to Tennessee’s Department of Economic & Community Development, the state has become a Southern distribution hub for imported goods and materials. This is because it shares its borders with eight other states and is able to easily facilitate the movement of product through its six commercial airports, extensive railway systems and extensive inland waterway systems, which include the Tennessee, Mississippi and Cumberland Rivers and their tributaries.
The Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs from America’s top corporations, reported that Tennessee’s international ports have generated billions of dollars for the state’s economy. The Port of Memphis, for example, provides more than 15,000 jobs, contributing $6.8 billion to the state’s economy each year. A total of 784,700 jobs in Tennessee depend on foreign trade, and trade-related jobs grew five times faster than the state’s overall employment between 2004 and 2008.
Tennessee’s International Trade Partners
According to the Tennessee International Trade Report from Middle Tennessee State University’s Business and Economic Research Center, shipments to Tennessee’s 6,400 export partners is experiencing significant growth. Exports in the first quarter of 2011 increased more than $1.5 billion over the previous year. Tennessee’s international exports are now valued at $7.4 billion each year, ranking the state 13th in the country.
One of the fastest growing export markets for Tennessee, according to the Tennessee International Trade Report, is Egypt, with exports to this North African country doubling in the first quarter of 2011 to a total of $23 million.
According to the International Trade Administration, Tennessee’s largest merchandise export partner in 2011 was Canada, followed by Mexico, China, Japan and Belgium.
International Business Jobs in Tennessee
Tennessee is home to a number of leading global companies thanks to its key location, logistically conducive infrastructure, wealth of technology resources and its many business incentives. This state has also established itself as a leader in clean technology, as is evident by the many global clean and renewable energy companies located here, including Sharp Solar, Aerisyn, and the Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation.
Tennessee is also home to some of the largest US-based multinationals in the world:
- Accurate Automation Corporation, which is located in Chattanooga, is a world leader in avionics, hypersonics and neural networks. This company is also a high-tech developer of unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned surface vehicles and transient voltage suppression technologies.
- The Eastman Chemical Company is a worldwide manufacturer of chemicals, fibers and plastics. Headquartered in Kingsport, Eastman is a Fortune 500 company with annual sales of $7 billion and more than 12,000 employees.
- Federal Express provides a network of supply chain, transportation, business and related information services throughout the global marketplace. Headquartered in Memphis, Federal Express has annual sales of $40 billion and more than 290,000 team members.
- International Paper Company, which has 23 locations across Tennessee, operates in more than 40 countries and employs more than 83,000 people worldwide. International Paper Company exports its products to more than 120 nations.
- Louisiana-Pacific, which is headquartered in Nashville, is a leading North American manufacturer of building products. This company now has 29 production facilities throughout the U.S., Canada and South America.
Making International Business Contacts in Tennessee
Businesses interested in exploring international trade opportunities can seek guidance and support through two organizations in the state: