Clay Banks, 31, is the Southwest Tennessee Regional Director for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. We are pleased to honor him as a 40 Under 40 awards winner, the first-ever competition to identify the economic development profession’s rising stars.
As Regional Director, Clay recruits new industry and capital investments in the State of Tennessee and helps existing businesses develop and implement innovative growth strategies to become more sustainable and profitable. He has a passion for helping communities thrive and creating long-term sustainable economic wealth.
One of his accomplishments in his current role has been to attract targeted businesses for relocation and expansion, tracking more than 4,000 new jobs and more than $350 million in capital investments between 2008 and 2011. He was a winner of the Memphis Region State of Tennessee INCITE Business Accelerator grant to oversee suburban and rural entrepreneur and mentor outreach. Clay also created a Life Science cluster development initiative by focusing on progressing a skilled labor market for medical device manufactures, which generated an ecosystem to advance the development of new Life Science technology and start-up companies.
What have you learned so far in your career?
Be passionate about what you are doing and don’t be afraid to fail, as your failures build the foundation for who you are today and who you will become. If what you did yesterday still looks big to you, then you haven’t done much today.
What’s the most overlooked issue facing economic development?
The disconnect of services and data between economic development, workforce development and education.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
That’s really far out, I tend to focus my attention on things I can execute and accomplish this month or this quarter. I will always be involved in some form of business or economic development. In five years I hope to be doing it on a larger statewide or regional scale with greater economic impact.
Clay has over nine years of community and business development leadership for private sector firms, non-profit, city and state organizations. His entrepreneurial background includes the start or co-founding of three small companies. Clay is also the chairman of the Bartlett Station Commission and has a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Advertising from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Clay’s leadership in recruiting new jobs has even won him Bartlett, Tennessee’s “key to the city.”
When he’s not working in economic development, Clay is also the host of Podcatalyst, the economic development industry’s only podcast. Clay co-founded the podcast last summer as a way to engage and learn from other economic developers across the nation.
Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. The department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. For more information, visit www.tn.gov/ecd.
Click here to learn about the other 39 winners of the 40 Under 40 awards competition.
Hear from Clay:
Click here to hear directly from Clay on what’s happening in the State of Tennessee and his thoughts on the future for economic development.