By Bill Dries,
May 3, 2011

The Tennessee State Senate Finance committee Tuesday approved two bills that represent the state’s investment of over $90 million in bringing the appliance manufacturing plant to Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park in southwest Memphis.

The bills approve the state bond and appropriation funding for the economic development project.

The committee vote was a unanimous 11-0. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. credited the Shelby County legislative delegation and, in particular, Memphis Democrat Jim Kyle and Collierville Republican Mark Norris who are the Senate’s Democratic and Republican leaders, respectively.

The state’s share of public financing compares to $40 million from city and county governments combined.

The state funding was approved by the outgoing administration of Gov. Phil Bredesen. Incoming Gov. Bill Haslam initially questioned the amount and how the money would be used. The questions from Haslam and, in particular, Lt. Gov. and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey caused some concern among Memphis leaders.

Haslam quickly restated his administration’s commitment to the funding even as he adjusted the state’s economic development strategy to focus more on the expansion of existing Tennessee businesses.

Shortly after the committee vote in Nashville, Greater Memphis Chamber officials announced a May 10 groundbreaking for the city’s other economic development plum, the Mitsubishi Electric Power Products plant in Rivergate Industrial Park


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