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18. Commissioner of the Tennessee Department for Economic and Community Development, Bob Rolfe

Bob Rolfe serves as the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. The department is responsible for recruiting business and industry to the state, supporting existing companies and expanding economic opportunities across rural Tennessee and boosting the state’s overall economic prosperity. Rolfe has more than three decades of experience in business and investment banking in Tennessee.

Rolfe has served as commissioner since 2017. Under his leadership, TNECD has increased Tennessee’s global footprint – leading Tennessee’s efforts in the recruitment and expansion of over 100 international projects, which represent an investment of $5.6 billion and 18,000 job commitments.

Since 2017, the department has provided more than $240 million in funding to rural communities throughout the state. In addition, companies have invested $4 billion and committed to create 21,500 new jobs in rural communities over the past three years.

“How do we prepare our workforce,” said Rolfe. “We have Tennessee Connect and Tennessee Reconnect. Every high school graduating senior can go to college for a 2-year associates degree or TCAT certification, tuition free. It was so successful that it was expanded so any Tennessean can go back and further their education.”

Since Tennessee created these programs, nine other states have adopted similar programs to help their citizens.

Listen to Bob Rolfe’s full episode below!