NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican Gov.-elect Bill Haslam on Sunday named investment banker Bill Hagerty as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
Hagerty is a founder and managing director of merchant bank and investment firm Hagerty Peterson & Co., and is a former finance chairman for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential bid.
"Having someone of Bill Hagerty's caliber at the helm of Economic and Community Development is a tremendous advantage for Tennessee," Haslam said in a statement.
Romney commended Haslam for choosing Hagerty, who he said "understands the necessity of growing our economy, adding good jobs, removing burdens on employers and unleashing the power of innovation."
Romney and Hagerty are both alumni of the Boston Consulting Group. Hagerty has also worked at the equity firm Trident Capital LP and as chief economist for the President's Council on Competitiveness under George W. Bush.
Hagerty, who was an early supporter of Haslam's gubernatorial team, said he looks forward to working on the new governor's "mandate to grow and create jobs in this great state." He takes over for Matt Kisber, who led the economic development department through entire administration of term-limited Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen.
Haslam's oft-stated goal has been to make Tennessee the "No. 1 location for high quality jobs in the Southeast."
Haslam spent two decades as an executive with the family owned Pilot chain of truck stops before he was elected Knoxville mayor in 2003, and several of his Cabinet appointments have reflected an emphasis on business and economic development. They include chief of staff Claude Ramsey, who as mayor of Hamilton County played a key role in attracting a $1 billion Volkswagen plant to Chattanooga, and Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes, the former CEO of tiremaker Bridgestone Americas.
Haslam in a recent interview told The Associated Press that he has sought out Cabinet members who "have the that kind of experience and understand business and the recruitment of those business, people who have been bottom line responsible for an enterprise."
"Mark Emkes ran a large company, he had to make the budget work," he said. "(Ramsey) had responsibility to make certain that revenues and expenses balanced, and had the responsibility of recruiting business. Same thing in my position as mayor."
Haslam takes office on Saturday.