Foreign Investment into Tennessee 2017

Tables and Graphs


Tennessee again received sizable foreign investment in 2017. Nineteen foreign-owned firms located to Tennessee or expanded their existing operations in the state. Together, they announced new investment valued at just over $2 billion, adding 3,386 new jobs to the state economy. That investment came from 11 different countries.

Whether measured by investment dollars or employment, 2017 foreign investment exceeded that of one year earlier. Thanks primarily to a $1 billion investment by Denso in Maryville, the amount of investment that came into the state was the highest since 2009. Philips's (Netherlands) creation of 800 jobs in Nashville was the largest investment in terms of employment. Seven of the 2017 investments were new operations, while 12 were expansions of existing facilities. The accompanying map indicates the location and size of the year's foreign investment. Once again, the automotive industry dominated foreign investment activity. Ten of the 19 new investments or expansions were in the auto sector. They accounted for 81 percent of the total dollar investment and 35 percent of the new jobs.

By value, slightly more than half of the 2017 foreign investment came from Japan. The six individual Japanese investments far outstrip those from any other country. Two firms each from the Netherlands, China, and Switzerland invested in the state. Investment from Canada was unusually light. The expansion of Metrican's operations in Dickson was the only Canadian investment last year. The weak Canadian dollar is likely one factor for that.

Last year, the new employment generated by foreign investment grew at roughly the same rate as Tennessee's employment overall. A bit under 5 percent of all Tennessee's new employment came from foreign-owned operations.

National 2017 figures are not available yet, but over the first three quarters of the year, overall foreign investment in the U.S. actually fell modestly from 2016. As we have seen, Tennessee performed much better than this. The state's relative attractiveness to foreign investors has not waned. With a growing world economy and a weak dollar, we might expect another strong inflow of investment in 2018. This does not factor in the big wild card of the coming year, the possibility of an international trade war. It is hard to imagine that an event such as that would not greatly affect foreign investment decisions.