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Steve Ahillen
By Steve Ahillen February 17, 2012

Still working on Small Business Works

At a campaign stop in Jackson on March 17, 2010, gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam announced his plans for a "Small Business Works” initiative. Although exactly what he planned is still plenty foggy, a press release accompanying his announcement offered this:

"The Small Business Works campaign will include a number of new initiatives and enhanced efforts to support small businesses, which will be rolled out over the coming weeks and months. The goal is to make sure there is no better place in the country to start or grow a business than Tennessee.”

One of those promised roll-outs mentioned was announced  about a week later in Kingsport. It was called "Tennessee First” and the press release included this paragraph:

"As an extension of Small Business Works, "Tennessee First” will include a concentrated effort to identify the 100 fastest growing businesses in Tennessee and connect them to relevant small businesses for matchmaking opportunities as well as provide technical support to the small businesses. The initiative will also utilize the regional jobs base camps Mayor Haslam intends to create by working to identify areas of businesses to expand our ‘outsource' operations' within the state.”

These announcements came during Haslam"s "Jobs Tour” during which he visited various companies and job sites to determine where help was needed.

So, if you're keeping track we have "Small Business Works,” "Tennessee First” and "Jobs Tour.” Plenty of branding, but – even the governor's office admits – not much done.

We asked Haslam's office in early January about the "Small Business Works” initiative and got a two-word emailed response: "In progress.”

There are some aspects of the plan that have spilled over into other, more active initiatives. For example, Haslam announced "Startup Tennessee” on June 28, 2011. That program is designed to "enhance a public-private partnership designed to connect and align entrepreneurial efforts across the state.”

Also, the Governor's Office noted that during the summer 2011 Haslam and Department of Economic and Community Development head Bill Hagerty "actively sought out and visited or hosted at the Tennessee Residence the top 100 Tennessee employers. This is an ongoing process.”

We don't see much really happening on this Small Business Works promise, but we'll take the governor's office's word that the groundwork is being put down and give it an In the Works.

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