Debby Dale Mason
| Sep 02, 2011
So much has changed in Middle Tennessee in the past two decades. In 1990, we had no Titans; no Predators; no Music City Star; no Hemlock; no GM facility; no Southwest hub; and no Nissan Leaf.
These developments -- among many others -- are due in part to a new approach to economic development that was laid out in 1990, when a group of regional and community leaders formed Partnership 2000. The Partnership differed from any approach we had taken in the past because it aimed to raise Nashville's profile by marketing the entire Middle Tennessee region as one economic unit. Today, nearly all the Chamber's work is from the regional perspective, representing 10 Middle Tennessee counties.
Thanks to the targeted, measurable and goal-oriented approach of this regional strategy, Middle Tennessee has seen great gains in per capita income growth, job growth, average educational attainment and tax revenue. In fact, the Nashville MSA leads all Tennessee metros in many of these key indicators.
Throughout the U.S., key drivers of prosperity -- such as innovation, human capital, infrastructure and quality places -- are largely concentrated in major metropolitan areas. According to the Brookings Institution, "The 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas contain 65 percent of the nation’s population and 68 percent of its jobs, but gather even larger shares of innovative activity (78 percent of U.S. patent activity); educated workers (75 percent of graduate degree holders); and critical infrastructure (79 percent of U.S. air cargo). As such, they generate three-quarters of U.S. gross domestic product. Their successes, and those of the nation's smaller metro and rural areas, are inextricably linked."
Having a regional mindset has been so critical to Nashville's past success, but it will be even more important to our future. We recognize that economic development is no longer about two cities fighting for jobs. It's now about regions competing internationally. As we work toward even greater accomplishments for the Nashville region, we plan to grow and capitalize upon five industry clusters where our region already has a competitive advantage: corporate operations; health care; advanced manufacturing; music, entertainment and creative fields; and supply chain management. These are the industries that will drive our future economic growth.
Thanks to the regional strategic approach of the Chamber and our partners throughout the Nashville MSA, our efforts have helped increase Middle Tennessee's quality of life while ensuring the Nashville region remains economically competitive.