Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee, a Republican elected last November, gave his first State of the State address on Monday in Nashville. Coming in the middle of a legislative session, the speech was heavy on budget and good government issues, with a productive emphasis on education as well. (Transcript)

Gov. Haslam’s inaugural address two months ago really provided a better sense of his vision for improving the state’s business climate. As the head of Pilot Corporation, a successful operator of the Pilot Travel Centers and now the Flying J truck stops, Gov. Haslam has a well-known record and pro-growth philosophy, and Tennessee is already a pretty good place to do business.

Tennessee boasts a strong manufacturing sector, too, which the Governor highlighted in a recent visit to the Chatanooga area, where a new Volkswagen plant will start producing passenger vehicles next month and eventually employee some 2,000 workers. (Video)

We appreciated his mentioning of tort reform, one of the first legislative priorities Haslam announced as governor.

At the Department of Economic and Community Development, I want to recognize the progress being made by Commissioner Bill Hagerty and his team in a top-to-bottom assessment of how to refocus the department’s assets to spread job creation from one corner of the state to the other.

Let me add, I hope that the changes we have proposed in tort reform will make our state even more competitive with our surrounding states in attracting and landing more high quality jobs.

Gov. Haslam speaks next Wednesday at the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s annual meeting in Nashville. NAM President Jay Timmons is also on the agenda.

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