State Resources

Tennessee Business Resources

Tennessee is divided politically and geographically into three state legislated grand divisions, each with its own regional centers: East Tennessee (Chattanooga and Knoxville), Middle Tennessee (the state capital Nashville), and West Tennessee (Memphis).

Until the mid 20th century, Tennessee was mainly an agricultural state. Today, service and manufacturing are dominant industries. This shift was encouraged by the development of the Tennessee River Basin under the Tennessee Valley Authority. The TVA brought diverse programs to Tennessee, sparking the development of new industries.

The principle manufacturing activity in the state is the production of motor vehicles and parts. The production of durable goods has also grown steadily in the past decade. Companies are attracted by Tennessee’s low costs of labor, energy, and materials. These businesses are mainly located in the eastern region, or within the four major cities.

Business Data

Per Capita Real GDP$34,321 Rank: 31/50 (2006)
Population5,689,280 Rank: 16/50 (2000)
Per Capita Personal Income$32,304 Rank: 35/50 (2006)
Unemployment Rate4.90% Rank: 32/50 (2008)
Business Tax Climate IndexRank: 16/50 (2008)
Corporate Tax Rate6.5%
Individual Tax Rate 6%
Sales Tax Rate 7%

Business Tax Climate Index

Individual Income Tax Index Rank8
Sales Tax Index Rank48
Unemployment Insurance Tax Index Rank31
Property Tax Index Rank35
Business Tax Climate Index16
Corporate Tax Index Rank12

State Information

Nick NameVolunteer State
State Web Site
MottoAgriculture and commerce

Top 5 Export Partner Countries

Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, United Kingdom

Top 5 Export Merchandise

Transportation Equipment Sales Chemicals Sales Chemicals Manufacturing Transportation Equipment Manufacturing Fabricated Metal Products Manufacturing

Major Cities

Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville-Davidson


Total Gross Domestic Product (USD Millions) $243,869.00 (2007)
Per Capita Real GDP (USD)$33,742.00 Rank: 34 (2007)

Population Stats

Population 6,214,888 Rank: 17 (2008)

Age Distribution

Under 18 Population1,398,520
Under 18 Percent of Total Population25%
65 and older Population703,311
65 and older Percent of Total Population12%

Gender Distribution

Male Population48.7%
Female Population51.3%
Non-English Speaker (at home)209,843
Net International Immigration49,973
Birth Rate13.5%
Percent of People Under Poverty Level15.5%


Per Capita State Spending$27,295
Energy Expenditures per Person$3,979
Expenditures of State and Local Government Employee-Retirement Systems$1,520,264


Personal Income$33,152
State Internal Revenue Collection$47,746,721
Cash and Deposits by State Government$2,084,390
Per Capita State Tax Collection$1,766


High School Graduation Rate66.9%
Percent of Population with a Bachelor's Degree14.1%
Percent of Population with an Advanced Degree7.6%

Largest Universities

University of Tennessee Middle Tennessee State University University of Memphis
High School Graduation Rate66.9%


Public Road Length (Mile)91,416
Gas Tax Rate (%)21.4%
Highway Planning and Construction (USD Thousands)707,799
Number of Public Airports82

Main Airports

BNA: Nashville MEM: Memphis TYS: Knoxville


Chattanooga Memphis Nashville



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State Business Links

The Tennessean

Secretary of State

Tennessee Secretary of State
Business Filings, Business Services, Licensing

Small Business Administration

Tennessee Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the Federal Government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interest of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise, and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. Small businesses are critical to our economic recovery, to build America's future, and to help the U.S. compete in the global marketplace. Through its extensive network of field offices and resource partnerships with private and other public organizations, SBA is able to deliver its services to the most remote areas of the nation.

Top 10 Business Links

Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER)
The center is a research unit of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Most of its work is focused on regional economic trends, and are aimed at business modeling and knowledge sharing. The CBER also maintains a library of census data, maps, and research reports.
Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC)
The TSBDC exists to assist and support the small business community in the state. It is present in 14 statewide locations, providing individual, specialized business advising and training. All services offered by the center are free of charge.
Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry
The chamber consists of the state chamber of commerce, and manufacturers’ association. Aside from business advocacy, it also provides members with easier access to trade knowledge, such as economic statistics and tax information. Other programs include assistance with environmental and human resource standards compliance, and educational scholarships.
Tech 2020
Tech2020 is a collaborative project to foster a strong and independent technology industry in Tennessee. It drives several initiatives that are aimed at furthering the state’s position in terms of technological innovation and business systems. Members have access to better access to capital, as well as the expertise at the Centers for Entrepreneurial Growth at the Universities of Tennessee-Knoxville and Battelle.
Energy, Technology, and Environmental Business Association (ETEBA)
ETEBA is an organization representing companies that are specialized in the areas of environmental, technology, energy, engineering, and construction services. Aside from group advocacy, and general business assistance, the association also creates networking opportunities, as well as marketing services for its members and their products.
Department of Economic and Community Development
The department is a state-run agency charged with developing Tennessee as a favorable business destination. It provides a wide range of services for start-ups, and companies who are looking to expand both nationally and globally. The office also offers numerous tax incentives for doing business within the state. Other programs include technology development, and even a creative department to help spruce up annual reports.
Center for Industrial Services (CIS)
The center is a research department of the University of Tennessee focused on improving manufacturing productivity. While many of its services center around this aspect, it also assists companies in meeting both safety and environmental compliance standards. Further, the CIS offers several worker development programs, as well as grant-based research opportunities.