Gov. Haslam's (R-TN) Obamanomic Moment? UPDATE: Haslam's Email Response

Gov. Bill Haslam released his INCITE (innovation, commercialization, investment, technology, and entrepreneurship) plan as a way to support innovation and make Tennessee the “No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.” After reading the info from the TN.gov website, it seems this plan is based on the same principle of President Obama’s failed stimulus. That principle being that increased government spending creates jobs.

The very first sentence states “Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a $50 million initiative designed to support innovation across the state.” Do private businesses and entrepreneurs even need help from the government to be innovative? Can they not do it themselves? If they can’t do it themselves then why should they be subsidized by the state’s taxpayers? What do government bureaucrats really know about business innovation anyway?

Apparently, they know more than I thought. “INCITE…will be managed by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD).” ECD will also work with the nine economic development regions across the state to “develop a strategic plan” for each region.

That’s not all.

The ECD will also fund a “business incubator” in each economic region. And just as fast as you can say “red tape”…well.. here comes the red tape. The business incubator will receive funds based on if they meet certain “benchmarks” such as “raising specific amounts of private sector capital.” If these incubators are capable of raising private capital, then why should they receive any government funds? Why can’t they use whatever they raise privately to help businesses? Wouldn’t this give the ECD too much control? This seems like too much of a top-down, centralized approach.

Bill Haslam doesn’t support top-down initiatives; at least he didn’t on the first anniversary of Obama’s stimulus:

“The good new jobs are not going to come from top-down Washington ideas but from bottom-up Tennessee ideas, small businesses, and utilizing the state’s regional assets in economic revitalization.”

What if the word Washington was replaced with Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development? Gov. Haslam has already made the argument against his INCITE plan.

Last but not least is the most frustrating part of INCITE. “The remainder of the investment is made up of a combination of state and federal funds.” And there you have it. Gov. Haslam’s economic plan is partially funded by the federal government.

Throughout the primaries last year, Haslam touted his business and job creation experience. That’s what is so puzzling and frustrating about this. You would think a successful businessman would not support any government bureaucracy creating any sort of “strategic plan” for any economic activity.

At least I would.


Bill Haslam’s office responds….well sort of.

I sent them an email asking a very simple question.

“Hello, I have a question about the INCITE plan. Based on economic principle, what is the difference between INCITE and President Obama’s stimulus?”

The next day I received a response.

Dear Friend,
Thank you for writing to me and sharing your concerns.  I appreciate hearing from you.
After careful review of your letter, I have determined that the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development is the appropriate agency to address this type of inquiry, and therefore have forwarded your letter to their office for consideration.
If any answer to my question is given by ECD I’ll be sure and post.