WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The so-called pipeline from California to Tennessee has millions of dollars in economic investment flowing through it. Last week’s announcement by burger chain In-N-Out is just latest win for Williamson County.

“There has been a strong pipeline of companies out of Southern California, particularly looking for a better business environment and Williamson County, Middle Tennessee is certainly it,” said Williamson Inc. President/CEO Matt Largen.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development shared a list of projects state leaders have recruited since 2019. Several companies that are based in California or relocated from California to Williamson County brought millions of dollars in economic investment, including Mitsubishi, Kaiser Aluminum, and Nissan looking decades into its future.

“That was a big selling point for Nissan North America, they wanted a place where they could do business for the next 50 years,” said Largen. “Now we’re competing with communities and cities we weren’t typically — Dallas and Atlanta, those were the final two for Mitsubishi. And we have not competed with those larger cities in the past. So it definitely puts Williamson County on a map in a way that we weren’t say a decade ago.”

He said getting on a list with Dallas and Atlanta puts Williamson County in a different league where they focus on recruiting companies wanting to relocate their headquarters.

“Economic development is really about amplification. And when you see an announcement like this (In-N-Out) with high wage, high quality headquarter jobs, it affects everybody in the community, especially our small business community,” said Largen. “When a company like this brings high wages, it gives people more purchasing power, which directly impacts our small business community, both in Williamson County and throughout middle Tennessee.”

According to Williamson Inc., the top five counties for “in migration” to Williamson County in 2019 and 2020 included three from California, the Chicago area, and Oakland County, Michigan.

“It’s important to note with Mitsubishi, with Kaiser Aluminum, with In-N-Out burger they bring a core group of people to sort of seed the office initially, but then those jobs are available to Williamson County, Middle Tennessee residents,” said Largen. “That is really, really important. Our job is really to help grow the economy and create opportunities for our residents for our friends, family and neighbors.”