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After laying off more than 700 state workers and cutting services for the mentally ill, the disabled and many thousands more of our less fortunate citizens, what's Gov. Phil Bredesen doing? Why, he's jetting off on a junket to Switzerland, Germany and Poland! We're so happy for him. The Alps are really nice this time of year.
Bredesen is taking off with Matt Kisber and Reagan Farr this weekend, even though it looks like the legislature won't pass the state budget and finish its business by then. Oh well. Bredesen seems to anticipate criticism over the timing of this trip, which he's billing as an economic mission of course. "Now is not the time to pull back or retrench," he says. Well, that depends on who you are, we guess.
Here's the press release:
GOVERNOR BREDESEN, COMMISSIONER KISBER TO RECRUIT IN EUROPE
State Officials to Discuss "Next Steps" with Wacker, Alstom Leadership
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber today announced plans to travel to Switzerland, Germany and Poland in June to hold talks with the leadership of European companies with investments in Tennessee and to discuss steps aimed at expanding investment by suppliers, customers and other companies in the clean energy sector. Accompanying Governor Bredesen and Commissioner Kisber will be Reagan Farr, commissioner of Revenue for the State of Tennessee.
"I've long said that it makes sense for Tennessee to redouble its effort to recruit new business, even though the global economy is in recession," Governor Bredesen said. "The people of Tennessee need higher skilled, good paying jobs, and now is not the time to pull back or retrench."
"We've worked hard to build good relationships with foreign companies who invest in Tennessee," Commissioner Kisber said. "The leadership of Wacker and Alstom have invited us to visit them and to discuss how we can build on these relationships to create new jobs for people in Tennessee."
The Tennessee group will travel from Nashville to Baden, Switzerland on June 14 to meet with leaders of the Alstom Power sector. Governor Bredesen and Commissioners Kisber and Farr will also travel to Birr, Switzerland to tour Alstom's Turbine and Generator rotor manufacturing operation, which produces equipment used in coal-, gas- and nuclear-powered plants around the world. Alstom is a leading manufacturer of power generation and transport technologies. One in four of the world's light bulbs is powered using Alstom technologies.
"We look forward to Governor Bredesen's visit to Alstom's facilities in Switzerland," said Guy Chardon, Alstom Senior Vice President, Thermal Products. "His focus on making Tennessee a center for the development of clean energy technologies aligns closely with Alstom's mission for Clean Power Today, and we believe continuing to build on Alstom's relationship with Tennessee can be positive and constructive."
Governor Bredesen will also follow up February's announcement by Wacker Chemie AG of plans to invest $1 billion in Bradley County, Tennessee with a visit to Wacker's headquarters in Munich, Germany. Wacker plans to build a facility for the manufacture of hyperpure polycrystalline silicon, a primary component in the manufacture of photovoltaic cells for solar energy.
"Governor Bredesen and Commissioners Kisber and Farr have proven to be strong partners in Wacker's expansion project in Tennessee, as well as gracious hosts," said Dr. Ingomar Kovar, president and CEO of Wacker Chemical Corporation., the U.S.-based subsidiary of Wacker Chemie AG. "This visit is an excellent opportunity for leaders in Tennessee to learn more about our business and for us to brief them about our plans going forward."
Governor Bredesen and the Tennessee group will also travel to Warsaw after leaving Munich, where the group will be hosted by Ambassador Victor Ashe, the former mayor of Knoxville, and will be briefed on business opportunities in Poland by the U.S. Department of Commerce and business leaders from the Polish American Chamber of Commerce. The group will return to the U.S. on Sunday, June 21.