Economic outlook: Pent-up demand from pandemic creates ‘interest not seen in years’

Local News

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Despite the pandemic, big companies are still choosing to plant roots in Middle Tennessee.

Electric vehicle battery manufacturer Microvast, the latest to do so, invested $220 million in Clarksville. According to Bob Rolfe, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, despite the pandemic, business in Tennessee is thriving, especially the electric vehicle industry.

“The pipeline today is very robust and it’s a byproduct of pent-up demand, and the companies that hit the pause button, but I can tell you right now – specifically Middle Tennessee – it’s a pipeline and interest we haven’t seen in years,” Commissioner Rolfe said.

During the pandemic, between March 15, 2020 and February 11, 2021, ECD landed 87 projects with 12,705 new jobs and $5.8 billion in capital investments.

During the same time period one year prior, ECD landed 101 projects with 13,660 new jobs and $2.7 billion in capital investments.

“I’m not going to say it’s pre-pandemic busy, but they’re busy and they’ve got companies in the pipeline, like really good companies from the United States as well as from outside,” John Scannapieco, Chair of the global business team at Baker Donelson said. “Tennessee is a God given great place, it really is and it still attracts businesses.”

Scannapieco works with companies looking to do business in the United States; he says his global group had their best year ever last year.

“As vaccines get rolled out, people feel more comfortable,” Scannapieco said. “It took maybe four to five months to understand what this pandemic means, businesses adjusted and I think they’re doing business now. At the end of the day, even with this COVID issue, business is still business; it still has to get done.

News 2 asked Comissioner Rolfe whether or not Mayor John Cooper’s property tax increase is impacting business dealings in Music City.

“Believe it or not, it has not. I think it’s because if you look at property taxes, even with 30 percent increase it’s still a relative bargain based on comparisons of cities of our size,” Rolfe said

Despite a few changes and troubles, both men believe Middle Tennessee will see a sense of normalcy come summertime.

“There’s a lot of pent up supply looking to get out; they want to come,” Scannapieco said. “We have to get through the next seven months. It seems we’re on the right track. Obviously variants could throw us off track, but I don’t see it preventing us from getting to that point; it may just delay us.”

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