Matthew H. Kisber
Matthew H. Kisber serves as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD). Appointed on January 18, 2003, Commissioner Kisber was charged by Governor Phil Bredesen with the goal of developing the infrastructure and resources of Tennessee communities and expanding the state’s business friendly economic climate, while attracting new industries and helping existing industries grow.
Prior to this appointment, 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 House Finance, Ways and Means Committee, which holds responsibility for the state's budget. During his chairmanship, Kisber received state and national acclaim for his leadership, developing innovative solutions to a wide range of budgetary and business development challenges. He authored many of Tennessee’s most effective economic development initiatives including the original Jobs Tax Credit Act, the Tennessee Jobs Skills Act, and Tennessee’s first Corporate Headquarters Incentive and was a strong advocate for successful job-creation programs across the state.
During his tenure at First Tennessee Bank, he was involved in recruiting new and expanding existing business relationships.
Kisber began his career as a successful small businessman in Jackson, Tenn. His earliest education in business came when he began working at Kisber's Department Stores, Inc., his family's business, at the age of 12. He also worked is way through college as a photojournalist for the Jackson Sun, covering politics and government.
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 Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia. In 1989, Kisber 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 a Toll Fellowship Program by the Council of State Governments.
In his current role as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Kisber has worked to strengthen economic partnerships for the state, both domestically and internationally. His keen focus on high-level customer service has proven successful when working with local governments, chambers and other economic development groups. Under the direction of Governor Bredesen and by Executive Order, that customer service philosophy resulted in the formation of Tennessee’s FastTrack program, which provides timely responses and services to companies considering investment in Tennessee. FastTrack has quickly become recognized as one of the state’s most effective economic development initiatives.
Commissioner Kisber’s leadership has yielded tangible results for the state’s economic development efforts, including the recruitment of 28 new corporate headquarters to Tennessee since 2003. In the same time period, Tennessee has seen over 108,000 new jobs created and over $13 billion in new capital investment and those results have led to top five rankings for Tennessee in multiple economic development publications covering state job creation efforts.
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. His efforts led to the creation of the state’s first-ever office of technology development, significant improvements to the state’s job creation incentives and a broad array of resources to help local communities recruit new industry.
Kisber is also active in various civic and cultural causes, having served 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.