2010 Summit Keynote Speaker


Matthew Kisber – State Commissioner, TN Economic & Community Development

Matthew H. Kisber serves as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD). Appointed January 18, 2003, Commissioner Kisber has led Tennessee’s efforts that resulted in four $1 billion dollar projects within a one-year time frame: German automaker Volkswagen in Chattanooga, polycrystalline silicon manufacturers Hemlock in Clarksville and Wacker Chemie in Cleveland and Japanese automaker Nissan in Smyrna.

Under Commissioner Kisber’s leadership, 49 corporate headquarters have located in Tennessee, including Nissan North America, International Paper, Louisiana Pacific, Clarcor, Service Master, Asurion and others. Since his appointment as commissioner, Tennessee has seen more than $32 billion in new capital investment and more than 184,173 new jobs created. In May 2008, Site Selection magazine recognized the state’s accomplishments by naming Tennessee the most competitive state in the country for economic development.

Prior to his appointment as commissioner, Kisber served 10 consecutive terms in the Tennessee House of Representatives and as vice president of Business Development for First Tennessee Bank. In the Tennessee General Assembly, Kisber served as chairman of the powerful Finance, Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for the state’s budget.

Kisber began his career as a successful small businessman in Jackson, Tenn. He was first exposed to business when he began working at Kisber’s Department Stores, Inc., his family’s business, at the age of 12.

Kisber received his bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and was one of 36 state legislators from 21 states to successfully complete the inaugural Program for Emerging Political Leaders at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration. In 1989, Kisber received a scholarship from the Southern Legislative Conference to attend the Leadership Development Program conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership and later that year was selected as one of 32 state leaders to participate in a Toll Fellowship Program by the Council of State Governments.

In his current role as commissioner of Tennessee Economic and Community Development, Kisber was charged by Governor Phil Bredesen with developing the infrastructure and resources of Tennessee communities and fostering a business-friendly atmosphere, while attracting new industries and assisting existing industries as they expand. Commissioner Kisber has worked to strengthen partnerships both domestically and internationally. His keen focus on high-level customer service has proven successful in working with local governments, chambers and other economic development groups.

Governor Bredesen’s customer service philosophy led the governor to sign an Executive Order creating Tennessee’s FastTrack program, which provides timely responses and services to companies seeking to invest in Tennessee. Under Commissioner Kisber’s leadership, FastTrack has quickly become established as one of the governor’s top economic development initiatives.

Additionally, Commissioner Kisber leads the Governor’s Jobs Cabinet team, which brings local officials, community leaders, state agencies and other entities with job creation responsibilities together to identify challenges and opportunities for economic and community growth.

Commissioner Kisber has further been successful in establishing the state’s first director of technology development position with the goal of leveraging Tennessee’s technological resources to attract technology-based businesses and encourage entrepreneurial growth. His focused drive toward a thriving Tennessee economy is helping to equip Tennessee communities for economic success today and tomorrow.

Kisber is also active in various civic and cultural causes, including service on the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Holocaust Commission, Tennessee Tomorrow, Inc., WestStar Leadership Program, Miss Tennessee Scholarship Pageant and the Tennessee State Museum Foundation.

Born January 31, 1960, Kisber and his wife Paige Lowe Kisber reside in Nashville with their son, Harrison and daughter, Katherine.


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