In the two years since receiving the designation of Manufacturing Community as part of the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP), the DRIVE! for the Future initiative has helped draw $3.9 billion in new automotive capital investment to the 69-county Tennessee Valley region. The DRIVE initiative will be able to continue its efforts following the recent announcement by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker re-designating the Tennessee Valley and 11 other areas as Manufacturing Communities.
DRIVE! for the Future, led by the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service (IPS), was formed two years ago to accelerate the development of a strong and growing automotive cluster in the Tennessee Valley, the fifth-largest region in the country for automotive industry employment. The initial and most recent designations elevate the region’s consideration for $1.3 billion in future federal funding and technical assistance.
“This re-designation shows that the department of commerce recognizes our commitment to continue to improve and grow the automotive sector in the Tennessee Valley,” said IPS Vice President Herb Byrd.
In addition to the automotive capital investments in the region, the DRIVE! initiative spurred $87 million in economic impact from direct technical assistance to automotive and advanced industry firms. More than 13,008 automotive and advanced industry jobs were created as a result of new investments.
“These IMCP-designated communities are doing their part to develop comprehensive strategies to strengthen the local manufacturing sector and to attract business investment that makes our nation more globally competitive,” Pritzker said in a release.
In addition to UT IPS, the DRIVE! consortium partners are: Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association, Chattanooga Enterprise Center, Georgia Automotive Manufacturers Association, the Tennessee Automotive Manufacturers Association, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Southeast Tennessee Development District, Tennessee Board of Regents, Pathway Lending, Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Technology 20/20, Tennessee Tech University and Tennessee Valley Authority.