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Tennessee Direct Financial Incentives 2011

Tennessee's economic development, finance, and tax organizations provide a range of incentive programs to initiate new business and commercial investment. Specific programs include the Fast Track Infrastructure Development Program and private activity bonds.

March 2011
Grants and loans:
Tennessee allocates on an annual basis a significant amount of the available Small Cities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars for an industrial grant and loan program. These funds are awarded for grants and loans to assist industries in locating or expanding in Tennessee. Grants are made for public infrastructure and loans are made for industrial buildings and equipment. The loan financing is at below-market rates. The maximum loan or grant ranges from $500,000-$750,000.

Infrastructure financing:
Through the Fast Track Infrastructure Development Program (FIDP), funds are allocated to assist local governments in providing infrastructure to support new or expanding industry. The following types of activities are eligible: water systems, wastewater systems, transportation projects, site improvement, or other specific infrastructure improvements required to support economic growth. Grants are typically limited to a maximum of $750,000 with amounts determined for individual projects. The Commissioner of Economic and Community Development is required to review and approve grants requests exceeding $750,000.

Private activity bonds:
While the state is responsible for the allocation of private activity bond authority, private activity bonds are issued at the local level. Applications for an allocation of this bond authority are made to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development by issuing authorities (local bond boards).

Revolving loan funds:
Revolving loan funds are available through nine development corporations in Tennessee. The loan fund combines funds secured from the Economic Development Administration with regional funding sources to provide new or expanding businesses with financing at below-market rates. Funding regulations vary across the state and are based on policies established by each development corporation. Generally, funding limits are based upon the number and type of jobs being created. Revolving loan funds can be used for real estate acquisition, expansion, renovation and construction, acquisition of machinery and equipment, and working capital. Funds are available to for-profit corporations, partnerships, or proprietorships.

SBA 504 loans:
The Small Business Administration 504 Loan Program provides long-term, fixed-asset financing of 40 percent of a project, not to exceed $750,000 for businesses whose net worth does not exceed $6 million and average net profits do not exceed $2 million. The loan cannot be used for working capital, debt consolidation repayment, refinancing, or venture capital.

Other financing programs:
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) economic development loan fund program is designed to provide capital to finance projects that stimulate economic development and leverage capital investment in the TVA power service area.

The Economic Development Loan Fund (EDLF) provides low-interest loans to established companies relocating or expanding their operations in the Tennessee Valley. Funds may be used for building expansions, equipment, and other purposes and are offered with flexible terms and rates.

The Tennessee Small Business Investment Company Credit Act (the "Act") was signed into law on July 9, 2009, as Public Chapter 610. The Act offers $200 million in gross premiums tax credits to insurance companies that invest in companies certified by the State of Tennessee as "TNInvestcos." A total of ten TNInvestcos have been authorized to invest funds in qualifying Tennessee small and start-up businesses. Qualified investments by TNInvestcos can take the form of debt, equity, or a hybrid of the two.

The $200 million in tax credits will be allocated among the ten TNInvestcos, each of which must apply for an allocation of tax credits. Utilizing standardized criteria, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development ("ECD") and the Tennessee Department of Revenue, in conjunction with the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, will award the credits to eligible companies in $20 million credit allocations no later than December 31, 2009. No more than two credit allocations may be issued to a single TNInvestco.

Qualification as a TNInvestco will depend on the following criteria:
• The entity must be a for-profit or nonprofit partnership, corporation, trust, or limited liability company.
• The entity must have equity capitalization of at least $500,000 in the form of unencumbered cash, marketable securities, or other liquid assets.
• The entity must have at least two investment managers with at least five years of investment experience.
• The entity must have been based, as defined by having a principal office, in Tennessee for at least five years or have at least five years of experience in investing primarily in Tennessee domiciled companies.
• The entity must have a demonstrated ability to lead investment rounds, advise and mentor entrepreneurs, and facilitate follow-on investments.

The Tennessee Small Business Energy Loan Program provides low-interest loans of up to $300,000 to qualified Tennessee-based businesses to help upgrade the level of energy efficiency in their buildings, plants and manufacturing processes.

Companies with fewer than 300 employees or less than $3.5 million in annual gross sales or receipts are eligible to apply for loans to install insulation, double pane windows, energy efficient heating, cooling and ventilation and energy efficient lighting. Other measures shown to save energy or decrease demand are also eligible for funding. Free energy audits are available to help interested companies identify potential sources of energy savings.

Loans can be repaid over a period of time not to exceed seven years. A 0 percent interest loan is available for businesses located in Three-Star communities. For businesses located in all other communities, the loan is available at a rate of 3 percent.

New hire training assistance:
The FastTrack Job Training Assistance Program (FJTAP) provides training assistance as an incentive to attract new investment and to encourage existing business and industry to make additional investments in Tennessee. The training assistance is customized to each company's individual training needs.

Levels of training assistance are determined by the amount of the company's investment, number of new hires, and the skills and knowledge that must be possessed by the prospective or newly hired employees. A customized training plan can be developed in direct coordination with company personnel. The training can be both pre-employment and postemployment, including classroom and on the job.

Reimbursement of instructional cost by company personnel and selected vendors is eligible for support. The expense of travel, for the purpose of training, is a viable option for the training of new hires and persons who will serve as company instructors.

Traditionally, manufacturing, warehousing/distribution, and service-related industries including back office, financial, and telecommunications are assisted.

Job skills program:
Tennessee JobSkills (TJS) is a work force development program giving priority to the creation and retention of existing jobs while focusing on employers in industries that promote high-skill, high-wage jobs in high-technology, demand and emerging occupations. Training grants can be awarded to employers as an incentive for investing in new technologies, with the training being focused on the performance skills of their present employees affected by the introduction of the new technology. Training assistance can also be awarded to employers who certify that a specific job or job openings exist and at the completion of the training project those participants in the project will fill such job openings. The starting wage for a new job created through the project will be equal to or greater than the prevailing starting wage for that occupation in the local labor market.

Tennessee State Contact:
Department of Economic and Community Development
Business Development Division
William Snodgrass/TN Tower, 11th Fl.
312 Eighth Avenue N.
Nashville, TN 37243-0405
(615) 741-1888

Incentive and tax information is provided to Area Development by each state's economic development or commerce agency for information purposes only and is subject to revision at any time by the state government. Please contact the state agency directly for full requirements and offerings.

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