Having suffered a huge 'Nokia' setback in 2014 in terms of thousands of job losses and a significant revenue loss, the country's third largest state in terms of industrial output now faces an uphill task ahead in 2015 amid a politically charged-up environment due to conviction of powerful former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

The state will be banking on its focus industries including automobiles, textiles, heavy industries and technology during 2015, while it aims to attract a new set of foreign companies to set shop and has lined up an ambitious global investors summit in the new year.

As it tries to come to terms with the blow inflicted upon it by Nokia's exit, Tamil Nadu is hoping that new investors would come as the exit of the handset major was not because of any adversities within the state and the fact that at least 35 Fortune 500 companies are still present here.

The state received over USD 12.5 billion worth of FDI between 2000 and 2014 and is the only one to attract seven automobile giants - Ford, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Daimler, Nissan, Renault and BMW -- along with major global players in other sectors, a senior state government official said.

Besides, the state already boasts of software exports totalling USD 11 billion.

As per its Vision Tamil Nadu 2023 programme, the state has targeted to attract USD 250 billion for infrastructural development, while its industrial output has grown two-fold during 2005-2010 with an annual growth rate of 18.6 per cent.

Industry leaders and the government officials, however, agree that the exit of Nokia, which employed a peak headcount of 9,000 people directly for its mega plant at Sriperumbudur about 30 kms away from the state capital, was a big jolt. The total employment after taking into account its ancillaries and suppliers stood at 35,000-40,000.

The plant's future turned uncertain soon after it had to be kept out of the USD 7.2 billion global acquisition of Nokia by software giant Microsoft due to a major tax dispute.

Even as the Tamil Nadu Commercial Tax department slapped a tax demand of Rs 2,400 crore on the MNC, the company got entangled into a much bigger tax dispute of Rs 21,000 crore with the Centre.

After months of deadlock, the company finally decided to stop production at this plant, which had become one of biggest mobile phone plants globally. It was manufacturing 11 per cent of total handset requirement of the world, producing four handsets every second.

Close to 60 per cent of the staff at the factory, which began operations in 2006, was women, which meant that a large number of households were dependent on it for their survival. This plant had led to setting up of several units for manufacturing of electronic components, creating more jobs in the vicinity.

According to the State government promoted Tamil Nadu Industrial Guidance & Export Promotion Bureau, one of the major reasons for Nokia to set up this facility here was low cost manufacturing, and this site was selected after looking at China and Singapore, among others.

The Guidance Bureau's Executive Vice Chairman M Velmurugan told PTI that the Tamil Nadu government offered full support by providing infrastructure for setting up the 200 acre plant for Nokia.

He maintained that the state government did not remain a "mute spectator" and tried its best in reviving the factory.

Soon after the formal announcement of Nokia to suspend operations from November 1, 2014, several political parties were up against the decision fearing job losses and sought the government's intervention.

To a query about the impact on software exports made from Tamil Nadu after the exit of Nokia, Velmurugan admitted that exports of software which was close to USD 11 billion from the State, would take a "hit".

"Of course our position slightly slipped in the exports made from Tamil Nadu," he said.

In Tamil Nadu, Nokia was followed by a number of other companies including Elcoteq Electronics, Foxconn, as also a number of other suppliers for the Finnish mobile giant such as Flextronics, Perlos, Laird Technologies and Byd Electronics, making the Sriperumbudur SEZ a hardware manufacturing hub of the country.

The state now looks ahead to make many more such industrial hubs and would try its best to sell the Tamil Nadu story to the companies from India and abroad during 2015, including at the upcoming Global Investors Summit in May.

Still, Nokia remains a story which would remain hard to forget for many years to come.

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