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High-Tech Heats up Tennessee

Learn more about the projects, programs, and incentives that make technology thrive, in exclusive conversations with Matt Kisber, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Susan Avery (Southern Tech Sites 2008)
Q. How is Tennessee involved in the future of technology?
A. Tennessee's diverse range of technology runs the gamut from new energy fuels to drug discoveries to pediatric cancer research and transportation logistics. However, we are involved on a larger scale as well. Governor Bredesen chairs the Southern Technology Council, part of the Southern Growth Policies Board, to discuss renewable energy with the entire Southeast and create a common marketplace so that all of the council's states understand the opportunities and use the same terminology. We are working collaboratively to assure that the infrastructure and the market needs are being met in a common marketplace approach.

Q. What niches are growing in the state?
A. Governor Phil Bredesen has invested heavily in the past year in second generation biofuels, partnering with University of Tennessee, Oakridge National Laboratory, and the state to focus on producing second-generation cellulosic ethanol from switch grass. In today's environment of high fuel costs, eliminating any steps from a manufacturer to a consumer translates to savings on both sides.

We are a distribution hub, in the center of 75-percent of the nation's population. The FedEx Institute and its research centers explore processes to increase efficiency of the distribution of goods. In Chattanooga, the SimCenter, one of the most advanced simulation centers in the country, models vehicle movements and aerodynamic flows and utilizes the large supercomputers at Oak Ridge. Along with trucking companies, they are working to modify equipment for improved fuel efficiency and to lower distribution costs. The University of Tennessee's Institute for Supply Management works directly with companies to design initiatives to lower the costs of supply chain activities.

Tennessee is the center of the for-profit healthcare world, with more publicly traded healthcare companies headquartered here than any other place in the United States. Between Vanderbilt University, which has one of the leading pharmacology departments in the country, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, we have a very strong infrastructure and are discussing how to implement their research and grow the biotech pharmaceutical industry. Because of FedEx, we have almost every major pharmaceutical company with a distribution facility in or around the Memphis area, but we want to increase intellectual property and value-added activities.
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