Writer: Joey Garrand
2 min read June 2021 — Middle Tennessee’s transformation has been remarkable, but with this growth and market maturity has come new challenges.
“Two decades ago, Nashville was a sleepy, Tier-2 market. Trying to get a headquarters to move to Nashville was near impossible. Today, Nashville is one of the powerhouse economies within the United States, and the opportunities presented by the region are vast,” Janet Miller, CEO & market leader of Colliers International Nashville, told Invest:. She also explained why Nashville has become such an attractive destination for companies, “Nashville has been named as the No. 3 market to watch for commercial real estate by the Urban Land Institute for three years running. Outside investor dollars are pouring in, and people are moving here. Really bright, young, talented individuals who pick their city before they pick their company are moving here, and that is what attracts the Oracles and the Amazons.”
However, as Miller explains, this significant growth has been placing immense pressure on Nashville’s infrastructure. “We have to pay attention to the unwieldy issues that come with the growth we’ve experienced, such as public transit, infrastructure and crime. If we don’t pay attention to these problems, they will threaten all of the work we’ve put in over these past 40 years to make this region a great place to live and work,” Miller stated.
Local officials are and have been well aware of the challenges associated with this growth, with Mayor John Cooper stating last year, “Recent events have highlighted that we can and should not wait to make fair, cost-effective infrastructure improvements in our neighborhoods. The challenges that existed for Metro Nashville-Davidson County before the coronavirus still exist – and once the pandemic is over, these problems will remain if they are not addressed.”
And with so many major economic announcements having recently been made, from Oracle to Ultium cells, these problems have become even more top of mind. Fortunately, the state and local Nashville government understand the need to emphasize investment into infrastructure during this period of growth.
At a local level, Mayor Cooper is implementing the $1.6 billion Metro Nashville Transportation Planopens PDF file , a plan featuring nearly 2,000 traffic and transit improvements to approximately 300 neighborhoods in Davidson County.
Governor Bill Lee is also focusing on infrastructure needs, devoting $200 million to improving broadband access and another $200 million to infrastructure grants to improve assets in the FY2021-2022 budget.
While the growth and potential today in Middle Tennessee is unprecedented, the region’s infrastructure and transportation demands are not. Miller explained, “As Governor Phil Bredesen used to say, the danger is when you put your feet up on the desk, smoke a cigar and talk about how great everything is. We can’t sit back. We have to tackle these mature issues with the same public-private approaches that have gotten us to where we are today.”