Stuart C. McWhorter was sworn in on January 21, 2023, by Governor Bill Lee to serve as the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. The department is responsible for recruiting new businesses to the state, supporting existing companies, expanding economic opportunities across rural Tennessee, growing the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and boosting Tennessee’s overall economic prosperity.
McWhorter has served as TNECD commissioner since July 2022. During his tenure, TNECD has landed roughly 70 projects, which represent 11,000 job commitments and $7.5 billion in capital investment. Of those projects, more than 25 percent were the result of foreign direct investment. Announced in November 2022, LG Chem’s $3.2 billion investment represents the single largest announced foreign direct investment in Tennessee’s history.
McWhorter has a diverse background in entrepreneurship, corporate finance and strategic planning. He served as co-founder and chairman of Clayton Associates with over 25 years of experience in entrepreneurship and early-stage investing. Founded in 1996, Clayton Associates serves as a venture investment firm primarily focused on the healthcare and technology industries.
McWhorter stepped away from Clayton Associates in 2019 to join the administration of Governor Lee as commissioner of the Department of Finance and Administration. McWhorter led the drafting of two fiscal year state budgets, co-chaired the Governor’s Healthcare Modernization Task Force and was appointed director of the Tennessee Unified Command Group to coordinate the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic before returning to the private sector in 2020.
In addition, McWhorter served as the CEO of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, a Nashville-based innovation hub that helps entrepreneurs create, launch and grow scalable businesses.
McWhorter recently served as the chairman of the Board of Directors of Nashville-based FirstBank Financial Corporation (NYSE: FBK). FirstBank has more than $11 billion in total assets and is the third largest Tennessee-headquartered bank with 82 full-service branch locations.
He has served as adjunct professor at Belmont University teaching healthcare and entrepreneurship. He received his Master of Health Administration from The University of Alabama-Birmingham and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Clemson University, where he has served as executive-in-residence, focused on Clemson’s efforts on entrepreneurship and economic engagement.
McWhorter resides in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Leigh Anne, and their five children.