Tennessee: Southern Success Story

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In the battle for economic growth, southern states – including such pro-business, fast-growing giants as Texas and Florida – are defeating many of their northern counterparts. When it comes to the migration of both population and wealth, most northern states have a lot of catching up to do, while many states south of the Mason-Dixon Line enjoy unprecedented growth.

One standout performer is the home of football’s Titans, the great state of Tennessee. From a purely scenic standpoint, the state is one of the most beautiful in the southeast. The topography ranges from the mountainous terrain of the east to the fertile lowlands of the central and western regions. The climate is moderate, and the cost of living ranks second lowest in the United States. Tennessee can boast some of the most advanced medical universities, hospitals, and medical research facilities in the world, including Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

Over the years, Tennessee has continuously attracted a growing number of upscale businesses, entrepreneurs, and highly educated professionals. Many of these new residents come for the quality of life, and to escape the oppressive tax environments in states to the north. Tennessee offers them the best of both worlds.

These northern transplants are certainly not alone. The state’s population grew by 11.5 percent during the period from 2000 to 2010. Based on IRS data, between the years 1992 and 2010, the state gained over $10 billion in annual adjusted gross income, mostly from northern states like Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio. Today the state ranks third in economic growth behind two other southern states: Florida and Texas. And while states up north struggle with budget deficits and economic shortfalls, millions of their residents have simply “gone with the wind” and are now contributing to the success of the South. In 2013, Tennessee can boast a predicted $42 million budgetary surplus.

The Volunteer State has yet another major factor contributing to its success, one that places it among a very small and elite group of other high-performing states: Tennessee is one of only nine states that has no personal income tax. It also stands at number four nationally on the 2013 Best States to Do Business rankings, and is ranked the number-one state for lowest business taxes and regulations according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for 2012.

In Tennessee, we have yet another example of a state that has grown in the face of major economic downturns. Its diverse industries and populace have kept the state strong while other state economies have crumbled. In light of all this, kudos must go to the legislators who had the foresight and conviction to do what was economically best for their state and their constituents. Their work has certainly paid off.