Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry
611 Commerce Street, Suite 3030
Nashville, TN 37203-3742
Telephone: 615-256-5141
Fax: 615-256-6726
E-Mail: info@tnchamber.org


NOVEMBER 1, 2007
Director of Events
Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry



NASHVILLE– The Tennessee Industrial Development Council (TIDC) has honored James G. Neeley, Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, as the 2007 Fred Harris Professional of the Year. Commissioner Neeley was recognized for his twenty-five years of service for the state of Tennessee in economic development.

 “Commissioner Neeley’s community is the entire state of Tennessee and is an excellent sales person for the state.  He understands the economic development process and is an individual that gets things done,” said Doug Lawyer, TIDC president and Director of Economic Development for the Knoxville Chamber.

Commissioner Neeley has served on numerous federal, state, regional, and local boards and commissions. As president of the Tennessee AFL-CIO, Mr. Neeley worked diligently to assist Tennessee companies in the retention and expansion process.  Mr. Neeley was appointed Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development by Governor Bredesen in January 2002 and currently serves in that capacity.

Commissioner Neeley lead the charge and was a vital member of the administration team that worked with Tennessee Legislature to pass the Worker’s Compensation Reform Act of 2004 which has resulted in the retention of over 5000 jobs. This Act places the State of Tennessee in a more favorable position in the recruitment of new industry. 

With the Commissioner’s leadership, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development has invested over eight million dollars in the initial applicant screening and the interview process and over 2.5 million in on-the-job training.  These efforts and investments have resulted in 5200 new hires plus a significant number of retained jobs. 

Because of Commissioner Neeley’s passionate interest and concern for adult education, forty thousand Tennesseans have attained their GED over the last 4 years as he has directed funds to be used to pay testing fees for those who cannot afford the cost.  He has also focused his efforts to enhance Tennessee’s workforce by allotting 5.7 million to Incumbent Worker Training grants.  These grants are utilized by companies to improve the work skills of the firm’s employees and as of to date over 22,000 workers have received training to upgrade their skills.             

“What an honor it is to receive this award from an organization that is the heartbeat of economic development for the state of Tennessee,” said Neeley.   

TIDC is the statewide professional organization for people involved in economic development. The Fred Harris Professional of the Year Award was established in 2004.  Recipients of the award must be nominated by their peers and selected from the field of nominees by a committee of past TIDC presidents.