2 min read December 2021 — The Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce is committed to fostering economic development as well as a great quality of life for Rutherford County residents. In an interview with Invest:, Paul Latture, president of Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, discusses the county’s economic expansion, characteristics of the county that foster and nurture this growth, and his outlook.
What differentiates Rutherford County from other counties in the Nashville MSA?
We are in close proximity to Nashville but we certainly have our own identity. First and foremost, we have always been and always will be a university community. Middle Tennessee State University is domiciled here. This is one of the largest universities in the state of Tennessee for undergraduate studies. They are the biggest workforce generator in our entire region. This large, talented workforce helps set us apart when we’re competing for economic projects.
Another differentiator is our strong automotive industry. In 1981, local leadership was successful in attracting Nissan’s manufacturing facility. Today, Nissan manages 6 to 7 million square feet here in Rutherford County to manufacture vehicles. After Nissan’s investment in the region, we quickly became an automotive center, not only for original equipment manufacturers but for suppliers and other folks coming to the region as well.
Which areas of the county’s economy are growing?
We’re seeing an uptick in just about every sector and industry. We’ve had some great wins recently with companies such as Schwan Cosmetics, ICEE, Amazon and FedEx. We’ve also seen activity from software development companies, such as i3 Verticals. Retail has exploded. Our healthcare sector has exploded. Housing is booming. In particular, we’ve seen great success with headquarter relocations and we have become even more attractive in light of the pandemic due to our lesser density and available space. But we’re bullish on every aspect of our county.
What are some of the incentives driving corporate relocations to Rutherford County?
We’re seeing a lot of interest in our county from industries located in high-tax areas such as California and Illinois. Here in Tennessee, we have a business-friendly, predictable climate. We can also customize an incentives package with various state and local incentive levers available to us. Our strong workforce and infrastructure combined with a business-friendly tax environment and the ability to provide further incentives makes us an attractive location for corporate relocations.
How is the K-12 system nurturing workforce development?
We have a very heavy emphasis on workforce development. We partner with all of our schools, at all levels, to foster workforce development, particularly in manufacturing. As early as the eighth grade, we’re involved in helping students down a career path. Our goal is to have students in high school graduate with an associate degree and a quick path into their desired career.
What is attracting the influx of population to Rutherford County?
Aside from jobs, education and healthcare are the two biggest things people look for when moving to a new community, and we provide high-quality offerings in both of those areas. Our K-12 institutions are some of the best in the country and our school system is continuously ranked No.1 or 2 in the state.
Our parks and recs department is second to none. We have 26 miles of greenway along the Stones River that we hope to connect all the way to Nashville. We have Percy Priest Lake. We’re only about an hour and a half to Chattanooga where you can be in the mountains, and you can get to the Gulf Coast quickly. Having Nashville so close with it’s sports teams and cultural activities is also attractive.
What is your outlook for Rutherford County?
I feel very positive about our immediate future, as well as our long-term future. Tourism is coming back, in-person meetings are becoming more frequent, sales numbers in retail are strong and we’re seeing activity from site selection companies from all parts of the country. Going forward, keeping up with infrastructure needs and school capacity with so many businesses and people coming here will be our main priorities.
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