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The 'Deciders': Five men shaping fate of TNInvestco
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The announcement is imminent regarding the venture-capital firms that will share assets flowing from the state's $120 million TNInvestco program.

State law and the TNInvestco administrative process outlined by members of Gov. Phil Bredesen's Cabinet call for the news to be released on or about Nov. 1.

Since that date falls on a weekend, it seems more likely the Bredesen Administration will release the news of the winners on a weekday, this week or next.

TNInvestco protocols call for the winners to be chosen by Matt Kisber and Reagan Farr.
They are the two Bredesen commissioners who have often teamed to shape state incentives for recruiting industry to Tennessee. The men are, respectively, Bredesen's chiefs of Economic & Community Development, and Revenue.

Kisber and Farr have been free to draw on additional resources, but the formal TNInvestco process for reviewing the ten finalists' proposals calls for the commissioners to rely principally on three additional men: Former State Treasurer and now Tennessee Board of Regents Vice Chancellor Dale Sims; Kisber Executive Assistant Caleb Hemmer; and, Farr's Deputy Commissioner Glen Page.

ECD's Kisber (left), 49, was named to his post nearly six years ago, after a career that included serving ten consecutive terms in the Tennessee House of Representatives, while also vice president of business development for First Tennessee Bank, in Jackson. In the legislature, Kisber was chairman of House Finance, Ways and Means. Kisber earned his bachelor’s at Vanderbilt University and completed the Program for Emerging Political Leaders at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration. Kisber chairs Gov. Bredesen's Jobs Cabinet team.

Revenue Commissioner Farr (at right) was appointed to his post by Gov. Bredesen nearly three years ago. Farr had joined Revenue as assistant commissioner for tax administration with responsibility for the Audit, Legal and Taxpayer Services Divisions. In 2004, he became deputy commissioner, serving as the department's primary legislative liaison and tax-policy coordinator.  While with Ernst & Young, he practiced in the state and local tax sector. He earned his J.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a bachelor's in economics at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.

Prior to joining TBR earlier this year, Dale Sims (left) was State Treasurer for more than five years, during the Bredesen Administration. Sims joined state government nearly 30 years ago, first serving as a legislative program evaluator with the Comptroller of the Treasury's office. In 1982, he became an assistant to the State Treasurer, then executive assistant, and, in 2003, he was appointed State Treasurer by Gov. Bredesen. Sims earned his bachelor's in political science from Western Carolina University in 1978, and has worked on a master's in public administration from Murray State University. He was subsequently elected Treasurer by the General Assembly three times.

Caleb Hemmer (left), 28, has been with Kisber four years, having earlier twice served on the field campaign staff of gubernatorial candidate Phil Bredesen. He is earning his MBA at Tennessee Tech, and earlier earned a bachelor's in business, with emphasis on marketing at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He interned doing legislative work for Nashville-based Smith Johnson & Carr government relations. Hemmer and Page have been tasked with day-to-day administration of the TNInvestco applications process. Hemmer's is married to Lori Brackins Hemmer, a program coordinator in the office of Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos.

Glen Page (at left), Farr's deputy for nearly three years, has been a state employee more than 20 years and had previously served as Farr's assistant commissioner for tax administration, overseeing Audit, Legal and Taxpayer Services divisions. His earlier Revenue posts included, Audit director and assistant director of Audit; director of Processing; and, assistant director of Taxpayer Services.  A certified public accountant, Page earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Middle Tennessee State University.

Six or fewer TNInvestco firms will be named, chosen from among the ten finalists that were announced Oct. 7. Two alternate firms are also to be named, and would be brought into play if one or more primary TNInvestco firms fails to meet TNInvestco obligations. The ten finalists were culled from an earlier list of 25 applicants.

Each TNInvestco allocation is worth $20 million, which is expected to result in more than $80 million actually being invested in seed- or early-stage companies that are based in Tennessee, in accordance with the law enacted earlier this year.

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Tags: Caleb Hemmer, Dale Sims, economic development, Glen Page, Gov. Phil Bredesen, Matt Kisber, Reagan Farr, Tennessee Small Business Investment Company Credit Act, TNInvestco, venture capital


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