The Daily Times
Found in the pages of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council’s latest findings on the advanced energy economy (AEE) is great news for Blount County. Advanced energy businesses continue to thrive here, allowing our region and our uniquely trained workforce to prosper, even in uncertain times.
Not only is the entire state crushing this $1.5 trillion global market — which includes any technology that makes energy cleaner, safer, more secure and more efficient — but the robust employment numbers for the Knoxville area ranked us third in the state. Likewise, the number of establishments doing business in our area and annual payroll both increased by 10% from the last time AEE’s impacts on the state economy were analyzed.
While many of us were not surprised by this refreshingly positive news and others applauded it, some might wonder: what does AEE have to do with me?
The short answer: everything.
It’s true that AEE jobs pay higher salaries — and those higher salaries contribute to the strength of the local and state economies. However, a strong AEE doesn’t just provide direct benefits to those employed in its ranks. A robust AEE in Blount County indirectly puts money in the pockets of our friends and neighbors to spend on retail, restaurants, and other small and large businesses, many of which might have struggled during the pandemic. A robust AEE in Blount County makes us a magnet for future investments and an incubator for local talent.
Tennessee boasts many different examples of AEE, including electric and plug-in hybrid cars, lightweight composites for the automotive industry, natural gas-fueled trucks, pollution-control equipment, bio energy, high-performance buildings, more efficient industrial processes, power reliability, smart grids, combined heat and power, and the latest wind, solar and nuclear technologies. The reason why our AEE economy is so varied and strong is because over time, we have carved out a name for ourselves as a desirable place to do business.