(The Center Square) – Tennessee’s Department of Economic & Community Development asked for $78 million for its FastTrack business incentive program next budget year.
The Fasttrack program received $92 million in 2022, $432 million in 2023 and $110 million in 2024.
The department gave a presentation to Gov. Bill Lee and his budgetary staff as the governor’s departmental budget meetings began this week and will continue Tuesday and Wednesday.
Overall, the department asked for $137.3 million in one-time funding along with a $27.4 million increase in its annual funding request. This year’s Fasttrack request is lower, in part, because items that were previously funded through the program will become separate budget items next fiscal year.
Fasttrack grants are state grants sent to companies to help offset the costs of expanding or moving into the state with the goal of increasing the number of full-time jobs and the average wages of jobs available in an area.
Economists question the effectiveness of financial incentives to private businesses to expand or come to a new state but state and local governments continue to expand the incentives.
Commissioner Stuart McWhorter asked Lee for the funding for seven new full-time positions as well as $2.5 million for marketing, saying the department previously used Fasttrack funding for marketing but instead wanted to separate that funding in the budget next year.
“We’ve got more dollars and grants we’re administering and we’ve got basically the same amount of people in our department,” McWhorter said, comparing next year’s request to 2019. “We’re asking for additional positions.”
Those positions would include three to manage grants, two for administrative work, one for legal and another for mobility research to go with a $5 million Transportation Network Growth Opportunity budget request.