Thanksgiving in Tennessee

Last week we talked about abolishing the term “holiday season” so we can appreciate and honor the purpose behind these special days. This week and next, the act of gratitude takes center stage as we get ready for Thanksgiving.

Charlie Daniels’ famous question sums up the great blessing we share: “Ain’t it good to be alive and be in Tennessee?” I think that’s always been true, but this could be the most exciting time ever to be a Tennessean.

People and businesses are moving to our state in record numbers. Tennessee is the nation’s top real estate market and we see evidence of that in our own county, where the housing market is still strong in spite of rising interest rates. Increased values created by this market allowed us to lower our property tax rate, which makes Lawrence County more attractive to job creators and businesses that enhance our quality of life.

Businesses from many sectors are coming to Tennessee, creating better opportunities for all of us. Forbes recently called Nashville the “health services capital of the U.S.,” with 14 national headquarters located in the greater Nashville area. Memphis is home to the largest group of medical device manufacturers in the world.

Those of us who remember what Spring Hill used to be know the impact the automotive industry has had in our state. Nissan, Volkswagen, and General Motors are all expanding; Blue Oval City is an assembly complex in West Tennessee being built by Ford that’s expected to open in 2025 with 5,800 employees. Currently, the automotive industry employs 120,000 Tennesseans.

The technology sector is growing as well. A recent ‘State of the Tech Workforce’ report showed that in terms of percentage, Tennessee was the second-highest growing state for tech jobs in 2021. Amazon chose Nashville as one of its key corporate headquarters, creating 5,500 jobs; Oracle plans to create a second headquarters in the city as well, creating 8,500 tech jobs.

Why? I believe it’s because Tennessee is one of the nation’s most conservative states, with a government that preserves our freedoms and limits its power in our lives. Government can be a force for good when it’s managed with conservative values.

Proof is in Tennessee’s low cost of doing business. That’s why compared to the rest of the country we enjoy low property taxes, more affordable energy costs, lower costs for all goods and services, and no state income tax.

Tennessee’s constitution requires a balanced budget each year. Compared to others that borrow heavily – some teetering near bankruptcy – we have the lowest per capita debt in the nation, just $893. Massachusetts, at number one, has $11,171 in debt per resident.

At the same time, our state’s booming economy generates revenues that are improving our lives. A new education funding system promises more state money for schools in rural counties like ours. Law enforcement agencies are receiving funds to combat violent crime at a time when many parts of the country are seeing little support for police and rising crime rates. Governor Lee’s emphasis on helping inmates re-enter society and lead productive lives created a grant program that will bring almost a million dollars to our county alone over the next three years.

Finally, Tennessee was one of the first states to create a system that covers the cost of tuition and books at community colleges and TCAT centers for new high school graduates and adults who are returning to school. A better trained workforce brings better jobs to all our communities and improves quality of life.

I am so proud to be a Tennessean, and I believe Lawrence County is the best place to live in our state. I am so grateful for the opportunity to help our community prosper, and enjoy all the blessings this very special place offers us all.

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