The Economic and Community Development Department of Tennessee is in the process of unveiling a new strategy for promoting commerce between Asia and Tennessee. 

The department, led by commissioner Bill Hagerty and assistant commissioner for international business development Samar Ali, is seeking to hire a trade representative in China and an investment representative in Japan.

These two positions will act as cornerstones in this new initiative to increase trade and investment activity between Tennessee and Asia.

Tennessee has been a significant player internationally. It is the second leading exporter for medical equipment in the United States and fourth leading exporter in motor vehicle parts.

It is home to foreign powerhouses such as Nissan, Volkswagen and Bridgestone. Nearly 900 foreign companies, in fact, call Tennessee home.

FedEx is based in Memphis, while Nashville, Tennessee, is a significant hub for healthcare and music.

Tennessee is a vibrant economic area. With a population of around 6.4 million people, it is home to four major metro areas that surround Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga.

It is in a prime central location: 75% of the top 100 metro zones in the US and Canada are within a 24-hour drive. The Memphis airport is ranked in the top two by cargo volume.

Tennessee has a GDP of around $250 billion, which ranks higher than Singapore and Malaysia.

Its strengths include healthcare, automotive, transportation, and logistics. Moreover it is home to world renowned universities and research institutions such as Vanderbilt University, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Its legal and tax structure also make Tennessee a very favourable place for business. Tennessee is a “Right to Work” state, which eliminates any organised labour requirements for employees. Tennesseans also do not pay any state income tax.

Tennessee is seeking a Chinese trade representative to be based in Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. The primary function of the representative will be to help Tennessee companies sell goods and services in China.

This entails leading trade missions as well as assisting in direct services, such as logistics, language and compliance.

The trade representative will actively cultivate trade contacts in China for Tennessee companies, including sales representatives, distributors and business service firms.

The Japanese investment representative will serve a different function.  They will primarily help Tennessee to recruit companies to establish operations in Tennessee.

As such, it will establish contact with potential investors as well as maintain quality relationships with Japanese companies that are already present in Tennessee.

The investment representative will network with the corporate community and cultivate relationships that can further Japanese investment in Tennessee.

Both representatives will help to market Tennessee as it makes its push to Asia. Tennessee recognises the importance of global interconnectivity, and is excited to build on its already strong foundation of Asian commerce.

Tennessee is currently accepting applications for these two positions and has issued a request for proposals (RFP) on its Central Procurement Office website:

The applications are due in by 2pm central standard time on September 4, 2012.