Policy Blog

RSS feed

  • A Day in the Life at DuPont Hadley Middle Prep

    by Rita McDonald | Apr 06, 2015

    Our final Middle Prep VIP tour for the school year at DuPont Hadley Middle on April 1 ended with a bang. More than 50 attendees were welcomed by the school band, entertained by a guitarist, observed project-based learning activity from students and were dazzled with a selection by the chorus as the tour kicked off.

    The DuPont Hadley Middle mission statement is "challenging, developing, encouraging." As the guests toured the building, they saw examples of how each student is challenged, developed and encouraged by viewing "a day in the life" at DuPont Hadley.

    • Fifth grade – VIPs sat in on a meeting of the school's Bridge Club, where students sharpen their math skills by playing the classic card game. This club is supported by volunteers from the Vanderbilt University Bridge Club.
    • Sixth grade – Guests experienced the theme "To Proficiency and Beyond" via a project-based learning experience where students used a green screen to create a broadcast featuring weather forecasts and news stories.
    • Seventh grade – The tour group visited a literacy class where students were posting their work on a blog and receiving instant feedback from their teacher.
    • Eighth grade – Attendees observed an algebra class whose students were ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Education
  • School Board Solicits Business Feedback on New Director of Schools

    by Laura Moore | Apr 03, 2015
    As current Director of Metro Schools Dr. Jesse Register nears the end of his contract on June 30, the search is on for a new schools director to take the helm. This month, our business community will have an opportunity to voice their opinions on what they are looking for in his successor.

    On Wednesday, April 15, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., representatives from national executive search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates (HYA) will lead a structured discussion about the director search, co-hosted by the Nashville Area Chamber, the PENCIL Foundation, the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber and the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors. The Metro School Board has contracted with HYA to secure Register's replacement by July 1.

    The discussion, which is open to the members of all four organizations, will be held in the school board's meeting space at 2601 Bransford Ave., 37204. (Onsite parking is available; please enter the building via the Berry Road entrance.) If you are interested in attending this discussion, please email me. If you are unable to attend the session but would still like to provide your feedback, you can take an anonymous three-question survey from the search consultant (the survey closes April 19) or ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Education
  • Haslam Discusses Education, Insure Tennessee with Chamber Members

    by Adam Lister | Mar 24, 2015

    With nearly 225,000 private-sector jobs created in Tennessee in the past four years, our state's economy is booming. Due to this job growth and its associated capital investment, Business Facilities magazine recently named Tennessee "State of the Year" for the second year in a row. Tennessee is the first state to receive the recognition in consecutive years.

    With this success as our backdrop, we hosted Gov. Bill Haslam today at our Governor's Address. This event is our members' annual opportunity to hear from our state's top leader about his priorities, which closely align with the Chamber's most important concerns.

    Haslam discussed his goals for helping Tennessee maintain "high and rigorous" educational standards, noting that well-prepared students become tomorrow's workers who can help our state address the challenges ahead. The Haslam administration's Tennessee Promise -- the first program of its kind in the nation -- will provide two years of tuition-free education at any of Tennessee's 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology, or any other eligible institution offering an associate degree.

    While Tennessee Promise will help thousands of students achieve their goals of higher education, Haslam noted that 70 percent of students enter college needing remedial work -- a ...

    Go comment!
    Tags: Gov. Haslam
  • VIPs Get Inside Look At H.G. Hill Middle Prep

    by Rita McDonald | Mar 05, 2015

    Some clichés about middle school students are hard to resist. Middle school kids are, in fact, young people in various stages of puberty. Often the height differential between tallest and shortest seems best measured in feet versus inches. But a single afternoon at H.G. Hill Middle Prep proves other clichés – unexpressive teens with downcast eyes, shuffling between classes just waiting for school to be dismissed – absolutely untrue.

    Earlier this week, more than 50 guests participated in a VIP tour of H.G. Hill, co-sponsored by the Nashville Area Chamber and the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors. This tour – the third in a series of four designed to highlight the transformational work occurring within MNPS middle schools – focused on project-based learning and extracurricular activities. Guests were greeted in the school’s parking lot by eighth-graders, welcomed at the front doors by fifth-graders, and entertained before the formal program by an all-student rock band. Remarks by Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register and Chief Academic Officer Jay Steele acknowledged that middle school has long received a bad rap and traditionally has been a time of departure of students from MNPS. But that trend is changing with the introduction of a ...

    Go comment!
  • Regional Chambers Weigh In On No Child Left Behind Reauthorization

    by Marc Hill | Mar 03, 2015
    Sen. Lamar Alexander is leading the effort to reauthorize the federal education law this year, and Tennessee's four regional chambers of commerce have weighed in on behalf of the business community. Alexander is the new chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which will be responsible for crafting the new legislation. In response to Alexander’s call for public input last month, the Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville Area Chambers of Commerce submitted a letter sharing our perspective on accountability, flexibility of federal funds, early childhood education and teacher quality. You can read our letter here.

    The federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was first passed in 1965, providing federal funds to states and local school districts to support K-12 education. Over the years, ESEA has been reauthorized by Congress to include accountability requirements in exchange for these federal resources. The most recent reauthorization of ESEA in 2002, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, required 100 percent of students to reach proficiency in math and reading by 2014. Schools and school districts whose students did not make “adequate yearly progress” toward the 100 percent proficiency goal faced stiff sanctions, including the potential for state takeover. ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Education
  • Community Feedback Guides City Planning

    by Rita McDonald | Jan 16, 2015
    As Metro Nashville/Davidson County continues to create new jobs and welcome an influx of new residents, city planners are relying on community feedback to proactively plan our growth over the next 25 years. NashvilleNext is a long-term strategic planning process that aims to lay the groundwork for our city's future so we can maintain our quality of life and economic success.

    As part of the process, NashvilleNext planners held a series of neighborhood meetings to present various aspects of the plan and collect input from residents, eventually amassing more than 15,000 comments and directions. Informed by this citizen response, planners created a "preferred future," which summarizes the first two years of work on NashvilleNext by outlining a possible direction for growth and preservation in Nashville and Davidson County over the next 25 years. This "preferred future" will help align Metro spending, regulations and programming with the community values identified during the public meetings.

    Now, NashvilleNext is asking Nashvillians: "Did we get it right?" Review the video introduction to the "preferred future" below, then take a brief survey by Jan. 23 to indicate how important various aspects of the plan are to you.




    As a member of the NashvilleNext steering committee, ...
    Go comment!
    Category: General
  • Nashville Chamber Announces 2015 Legislative Agendas, New State Lobbyist

    by Marc Hill | Jan 07, 2015
    The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to release its 2015 state and Metro legislative agendas. Our advocacy work centers on creating an environment where business can prosper, developing the region’s workforce talent, building a great quality of life, and acting regionally to ensure economic prosperity. Each fall, we begin our policy process by surveying our members to see which issues are top of mind. Our members’ feedback then informs the development of an agenda which is approved by our board of directors. Top priorities at the state legislature this year are expanding the number of Tennesseans with health insurance through Gov. Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan and support for rigorous K-12 academic standards accompanied by a new assessment that accurately measures student achievement.

    In January 2013, the Nashville Chamber was the first business organization in the state to endorse the expansion of health insurance coverage to working Tennesseans, funded wholly by federal Medicaid dollars through 2016. In our most recent policy survey, our members favored supporting the governor’s Insure Tennessee plan by a two-to-one margin. While Tennessee has not yet joined the growing number of states participating in expanding health insurance to those eligible for Medicaid expansion, Gov. Haslam ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Legislative Issues
  • Education Report Card Co-chair Says Report Focuses on Broadening Quality Education

    by Whitney Weeks | Jan 05, 2015
    Miller Says Report Not About Silencing School Board Dissent

    2014 Education Report Card Committee Co-chair Jackson Miller told members of the Nashville Rotary Club today that the community should not accept more than half of public school students not reading or solving math problems at grade level. Miller gave an overview of the recently released Report Card to Rotary members and praised Metro Nashville Public Schools for expanding the number of schools performing well on state standards and reducing the number of students attending underperforming schools. But, he pointed out, the committee of educators, business leaders and community members who spent more than five months on the report argue MNPS needs to make progress at a faster pace.

    He acknowledged the 2014 Education Report Card has come under criticism from some Metro School Board members and education activists for its recommendation that the School Board recommit to the policy governance standard it adopted last year. Miller said that means board members should be free to fully debate issues and vote their conscience, but should support the successful execution of a policy decision once a consensus is formed, rather than continuing to criticize the decision in social or mainstream media.

    “No ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Education
  • Regional Transit Remains Top Priority of Vital Signs

    by Laura Moore | Dec 11, 2014
    “Transit has to happen…[we] will be stagnant if we are immobile.”

    One of our region’s mayors shared this as his main takeaway on Oct. 7 when the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce released the 2014 Nashville Region’s Vital Signs report to the more than 40 mayors that make up the Middle Tennessee Mayors' Caucus. Vital Signs is a process for our region to take an annual snapshot of how we’re doing and identify areas in need of action. This year’s assessment highlights a number of advantages our region benefits from: the diversity of our economy, our low cost of living, the increased purchasing power of our residents, the engagement of our residents in the civic life of our communities, and the synergies that arise from the proximity of the Nashville and Clarksville MSAs.

    In addition to assets, the report highlights key threats to the continued economic vitality of our region. Ensuring adults have postsecondary education and training tied to workforce needs and improving the health of our residents were among the issues cited as in need of action and attention. But the projected impact of our declining mobility on continued economic development was the priority that captured the mayors’ attention ...
    Go comment!
  • Executive Orders Highlight Need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    by Marc Hill | Dec 08, 2014
    It is always an honor for Nashville to host the president of the United States, and we welcome President Obama to our prosperous city and region this week. The president is expected to speak Tuesday on an issue of great importance to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce: the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Our Chamber has been a longstanding advocate for congressional action to fix our broken immigration system, opposing efforts in the state legislature to supplant the federal responsibility, as well as helping to defeat a local “English-only” referendum in 2009. We hope the president will share how he intends to work with leaders in both parties to pass comprehensive immigration reform when the new Congress begins work in 2015.

    Nashville has a well-deserved reputation as a friendly, welcoming city — not just for visitors and tourists, but also for immigrants from around the world. As a result, Nashville's immigrant population is growing quickly. As the Tennessean noted recently, more than half of our city’s growth since 2000 has come from immigrants, and 12 percent of all our residents were born outside the U.S. This population growth is important, because the Nashville region will be facing a shortage ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Legislative Issues
  • Regional Chambers Weigh In On No Child Left Behind Reauthorization

    by Marc Hill | Mar 03, 2015
    Sen. Lamar Alexander is leading the effort to reauthorize the federal education law this year, and Tennessee's four regional chambers of commerce have weighed in on behalf of the business community. Alexander is the new chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which will be responsible for crafting the new legislation. In response to Alexander’s call for public input last month, the Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville Area Chambers of Commerce submitted a letter sharing our perspective on accountability, flexibility of federal funds, early childhood education and teacher quality. You can read our letter here.

    The federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was first passed in 1965, providing federal funds to states and local school districts to support K-12 education. Over the years, ESEA has been reauthorized by Congress to include accountability requirements in exchange for these federal resources. The most recent reauthorization of ESEA in 2002, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, required 100 percent of students to reach proficiency in math and reading by 2014. Schools and school districts whose students did not make “adequate yearly progress” toward the 100 percent proficiency goal faced stiff sanctions, including the potential for state takeover.

    NCLB was supposed to be reauthorized by Congress in 2007. Given that we are now beyond 2014 and schools and districts across the country have failed to ensure all of their students are proficient in math and reading, the U.S. Department of Education has been issuing waivers to states that propose alternative accountability provisions. Tennessee’s waiver requires schools and districts to make modest, annual progress in the number of students proficient in math and reading for certain grades. Schools and districts must also demonstrate they are closing the achievement gaps between student demographic groups.

    While we believe that NCLB had several provisions that were unrealistic and in need of revision, it is also clear that its accountability provisions sparked much-needed change and innovation in K-12 education. We hope the current effort to rewrite the law results in legislation that continues to insist on increased student achievement for all students.

    Go comment!
  • Relive the 2014 NEXT Awards

    by Stephanie Coleman | Jan 09, 2015
    It’s a brand-new year for Nashville’s innovators and entrepreneurs to think up new ideas and take their companies to the next level, and we can’t wait to honor those groundbreaking individuals and businesses at the 2015 NEXT Awards this fall.

    In November, the Nashville Chamber and Nashville Entrepreneur Center hosted the 2014 NEXT Awards to recognize those who have achieved excellence in business and entrepreneurship. In case you missed the show or just want to relive the amazing experience, check out the recap video below, compliments of our Chamber member Steven Knapp of knapptimecreative. Warning: this video may inspire creative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit.



    Visit nextawardsnashville.com to view more videos from the event and to see a full list of 2014 finalists and winners. The 2015 NEXT Awards are coming this fall, and we'll begin accepting applications this summer. Will you be NEXT?

    Go comment!
  • Introducing Business Studio 2.0

    by Stephanie Coleman | Jan 09, 2015

    Guest post by Corey Davis, director of business growth initiatives, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce

    Small and midsized businesses are the majority of our Chamber membership and a cornerstone of our regional economy. In September, we launched Business Studio, a new suite of programming specifically designed to help these businesses succeed.

    Yesterday, we hosted a special kickoff event to unveil what I like to think of as "Business Studio 2.0." We'll now host two Business Studio events each month. One will be an educational workshop with an expert presenter, and the other will be an interactive networking experience. For this month's offerings, Michael Croom and John Fink of First Advantage Bank will join us Tuesday, Jan. 20, for an overview of the SBA lending process, and on Thursday, Jan. 29, we'll have a town-hall-style event with Sam Davidson, founder of Batch Nashville. We hope you can join us; to register for these and other upcoming events, visit our online calendar.

    We're also planning big things for the online component of Business Studio. Our blog will include both original and contributed content focused on topics to help improve your business. Other features, such as our BusinessConnect RFP tool, help companies solicit bids for products or services they need, while also allowing companies to view open RFPs to find new revenue-generating opportunities. The Business Studio forum (coming soon) will give businesses a platform to engage with peers online by asking questions, posting helpful information and providing input to continually improve our programming. As Business Studio continues to grow, we'll eventually develop a library of online resources such as videos and podcasts – all aimed at helping you grow your business.

    We hope Business Studio will evolve into a community where our members can not only learn, but also develop new connections and spark great ideas for growing and thriving. For that to happen, we need to hear from you about what future programming you'd like to see, what support you need to reach your goals, and even what advice or inspiration you'd like to share with fellow business owners. To get the conversation started, share your feedback by using the comment area below this blog post or emailing me.


    More than 130 people registered to attend the Business Studio kickoff event on Jan. 8.
    Go comment!
  • Nashville Chamber Announces 2015 Legislative Agendas, New State Lobbyist

    by Marc Hill | Jan 07, 2015
    The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to release its 2015 state and Metro legislative agendas. Our advocacy work centers on creating an environment where business can prosper, developing the region’s workforce talent, building a great quality of life, and acting regionally to ensure economic prosperity. Each fall, we begin our policy process by surveying our members to see which issues are top of mind. Our members’ feedback then informs the development of an agenda which is approved by our board of directors. Top priorities at the state legislature this year are expanding the number of Tennesseans with health insurance through Gov. Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan and support for rigorous K-12 academic standards accompanied by a new assessment that accurately measures student achievement.

    In January 2013, the Nashville Chamber was the first business organization in the state to endorse the expansion of health insurance coverage to working Tennesseans, funded wholly by federal Medicaid dollars through 2016. In our most recent policy survey, our members favored supporting the governor’s Insure Tennessee plan by a two-to-one margin. While Tennessee has not yet joined the growing number of states participating in expanding health insurance to those eligible for Medicaid expansion, Gov. Haslam is submitting a plan to the state legislature and the federal government to expand the number of insured Tennesseans through the private market. The governor’s proposal would provide access to health insurance coverage to more than 200,000 Tennesseans through their employers or through a flexible spending account, leading to a healthier workforce. The governor’s plan would also avert a scenario in which many Tennessee businesses are hit with certain tax penalties unique to states that choose not to expand Medicaid. Additionally, reducing the number of uninsured individuals helps offset the Affordable Care Act’s reimbursement cuts to hospitals and medical providers—an important issue for Nashville’s No. 1 industry.

    For the second year in a row, more than 90 percent of our members have expressed support for education standards which set high expectations for students and are designed to focus on college, career and life readiness. While the rigorous Common Core State Standards were adopted by Tennessee in 2010 and implemented in classrooms across the state, Gov. Haslam is currently conducting a review of the state’s academic standards that will continue through spring 2015. To date, the review process has netted more than 40,000 comments through an online portal. The General Assembly has a responsibility to participants who have reviewed and commented on the state’s current standards, now in their fourth year of implementation, and should resist any attempt to modify them before the review process has been completed. The legislature’s action to delay a new assessment last year means that it will be 2016 before teachers, parents and taxpayers know how our students are measuring up to the state’s more rigorous K-12 standards. As representatives of Middle Tennessee’s business community, we believe the continued misalignment between standards and assessments sets our teachers and students up for failure. We urge the legislature to honor the state’s commitment to accountability by supporting the implementation of an assessment aligned to current state standards for the 2015-2016 school year.

    In 2015, the Chamber will accomplish our longstanding goal of bringing our state lobbying efforts in-house. Adam Lister, who has been on our staff for three years, has been promoted to vice president of policy and will represent the Chamber’s positions at the state capitol. Adam will also take the lead in supporting our advocacy partnerships with the Rutherford County, Hendersonville Area and Robertson County Chambers of Commerce. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Dan Haskell and Matt Scanlan of Gullett Sanford Robinson & Martin for their outstanding service over many years as the Nashville Chamber’s contract lobbyists, which concluded on Dec. 31. We look forward to continuing to work with them both on issues important to Middle Tennessee’s business community.

    The Tennessee General Assembly will convene at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 13, for their 2015 legislative session. For the latest information on our legislative priorities, please visit Middle Tennessee Business Voice.
    Go comment!
  • Executive Orders Highlight Need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    by Marc Hill | Dec 08, 2014
    It is always an honor for Nashville to host the president of the United States, and we welcome President Obama to our prosperous city and region this week. The president is expected to speak Tuesday on an issue of great importance to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce: the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Our Chamber has been a longstanding advocate for congressional action to fix our broken immigration system, opposing efforts in the state legislature to supplant the federal responsibility, as well as helping to defeat a local “English-only” referendum in 2009. We hope the president will share how he intends to work with leaders in both parties to pass comprehensive immigration reform when the new Congress begins work in 2015.

    Nashville has a well-deserved reputation as a friendly, welcoming city — not just for visitors and tourists, but also for immigrants from around the world. As a result, Nashville's immigrant population is growing quickly. As the Tennessean noted recently, more than half of our city’s growth since 2000 has come from immigrants, and 12 percent of all our residents were born outside the U.S. This population growth is important, because the Nashville region will be facing a shortage of skilled and qualified workers over the next decade. The Chamber’s 2014 Nashville Region's Vital Signs report forecasts a shortage of 34,800 skilled workers for the jobs that will exist in our region by 2021.

    That’s why the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce remains a strong advocate for fixing our nation’s immigration system. We need comprehensive legislation that:
    • secures our border against illegal immigration;
    • expands legal immigration that meets our country’s workforce needs for highly skilled workers;
    • allows an earned pathway toward citizenship for undocumented residents already living in our country, so they can pay taxes and better contribute to our economy.
    Immigration reform has been a national issue for the last several years, but our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. have yet to adopt a long-term solution to our failed system. That includes the president’s Nov. 20 announcement to take action through executive order — that is, without Congress passing legislation. The president’s plan seeks to protect an estimated 5 million undocumented parents of U.S.-born children from being deported, allowing them to obtain a work permit and social security number. The plan also seeks to bolster border security and focus primarily on deporting undocumented persons who commit serious crimes. In addition, the plan would allow highly skilled foreign workers who enter the country through the H1-B visa program to more easily change employers, as well as allow their spouses to seek employment.

    Businesses are able to invest and create jobs when there is a predictable and supportive business environment. But the future of the president’s executive orders is uncertain, since they would expire in three years. In addition, as many as 17 states have announced plans to take legal action against the president’s orders, seeking to block their implementation (Tennessee is currently not among them). While the executive orders contain provisions we would support in any comprehensive immigration bill, Congress must take action. In 2013, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill thanks to the leadership and votes of Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, among others. But the House of Representatives has failed to act.

    Whether or not you support the president taking action through executive order, one thing is clear: it is far past time for Congress to pass comprehensive legislation addressing our nation’s broken immigration system.
    Go comment!
  • A Look Back At the 2014 NEXT Awards

    by Stephanie Coleman | Nov 26, 2014
    The Nashville Area Chamber and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center created the NEXT Awards four years ago as a way to celebrate the people, companies and ideas that are fueling Middle Tennessee's economy. It's been exciting to see this event grow every year as Nashville continues to be one of the best places to live, work and start a business. 

    With the 2014 NEXT Awards just behind us on Nov. 20, we wanted to take a look back at the event through videos, photos and a podcast. Visit nextawardsnashville.com for a full list of this year's finalists and winners.








    Go comment!
  • The NEXT Awards: The Past, Present and Future of Entrepreneurship in Music City

    by Stephanie Coleman | Nov 18, 2014
    Guest post by Clark Buckner, online events manager, TechnologyAdvice

    The annual NEXT Awards celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit in Music City, recognizing businesses and individuals that are leading innovation in Middle Tennessee.

    Many of this year’s finalists gathered for the NEXT Awards Finalists Celebration at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, where I interviewed them for a podcast about the biggest trends and challenges in Nashville’s entrepreneurial growth.



    Nashville’s NEXT Awards

    The NEXT Awards ceremony is one of the largest events of the year for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, which partners with the Entrepreneur Center (EC) in making the event come to life. Corey Davis, the Chamber’s director of business growth initiatives, says it is also one of its most meaningful. “The Chamber wants to help the Nashville business community any way we can. We want Nashville to grow, and partnering with the EC to highlight companies that are the future of Nashville is a great way to help encourage that,” he said.

    NEXT Awards are presented to companies in five industries across three categories based on their stage of growth: startup (small companies), growth (mid-sized companies) and market mover (large companies). Davis is excited about the natural progression of the awards, noting that several former NEXT Award winners are finalists yet again, but in higher growth categories.

    Jared Marquette, the EC’s director of business partnerships, agrees that the NEXT Awards are “representative of the growth and change” that’s marked Nashville’s tech scene for some time. The awards don’t reveal “where we’re at now,” but rather highlight “what’s new and what’s happening.”

    For Marquette, the word “collision” signifies the event as well as Nashville’s technology industry: “There’s so much movement and so many different particles and pieces constantly bumping into each other that things start to stick. You start to not just have these tiny individual pieces, ideas, businesses, entrepreneurs, or investors—but what you have is an actual whole system that's planned and organized that allows for any part of the system to come in and understand how to walk through it.”

    The Friendliest Tech City?

    According to Marquette, personality has been another key element to Nashville’s tech growth. “There’s a lot of competition here, but I think it’s friendly. People are always willing to offer advice or lend a helping hand,” he said.

    Virsys12’s Tammy Hawes has seen that camaraderie firsthand, and agrees that it’s one of Nashville’s defining characteristics: “Nashville is a very giving community. You run across people all the time in Nashville that truly want to help you along your path. And pretty much everybody I meet, they have some kind of golden nugget of advice or experience in the past that I can relate to .... There's always something that they say that makes me think differently about the way the world's changing. I think that's what's drawing people to Nashville -- that sense of people helping each other. I hope that we can keep that. I think we can.”

    The Push to Retain Tech Talent

    For a number of reasons, tech workers keep flocking to Nashville. Of course, it’s incredibly important for the city to retain the tech workers it is developing, too. Countless local companies and organizations are working together to increase development and improve retention. Many efforts have been directed at the middle and high school levels, including:

    • HCA investing in women who mentor girls at Overton High School
    • Firefly Logic investing in Stratford STEM Magnet High School
    • Nissan investing in the Williamson County school system
    • Griffin Technology investing in the Hunters Lane High School Design and Technology Academy (MNPS IT Academy)

    Additionally, InternNashville is an initiative from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce that offers internship resources and opportunities to connect students and employers in Middle Tennessee.

    Ben McIntyre, CEO of the startup Internpreneur, understands quite well the direct connection between rapid business growth and the need for talent acquisition and talent retention. He believes Nashville must work hard to keep the talent Nashville’s universities have been incubating. He pointed to Nashville’s relatively low cost of living as one benefit for new tech graduates, but suggested more can and should be done to ensure that Nashville’s young tech talent stays around long enough to become Nashville’s old tech talent.

    Channing Moreland, CEO and co-founder of What’s Hubbin’, believes the first steps are already evident. “I have noticed such a strong desire for collaboration with these younger kids. I really think if [experienced professionals] could just remove the stereotypes from our minds and really look at these entrepreneurs, it would be amazing what they could do because they are so willing to work,” she said.

    Hawes believes the EC’s focus on collaboration has helped encourage that growth and increase the number of ways people can connect with guidance from peers and mentors, especially when it comes to women.

    As a successful woman in Nashville’s technology industry, Hawes is active in the EC, the Nashville Chamber, the Nashville Technology Council and Women in Technology. She believes opportunities for professional development and networking are everywhere, but it’s up to each individual to take that first step. “The main thing is that they just have to put themselves out there. It's not that scary, and if they put themselves out there, great things will happen,” she said.

    What’s Next for Nashville Tech?

    Although NEXT Award finalists are taking different paths in their businesses, the themes of their stories are similar: growth and community.

    Kevin Kazlauskas, founder of Make It Pop Creations, says Nashville is beginning to rival L.A. and New York in many ways, especially on a creative and production level. Floyd DePalma, principal of DePalma Studio, praised the city’s focus on young entrepreneurs, citing the efforts of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and Jumpstart Foundry to support early-stage businesses and encourage their growth.

    Tim Downey, CEO and co-founder of Picd.us, is a product of those efforts. The NEXT Award finalist for Young Entrepreneur of the Year says the people he’s met in Nashville helped him realize he could be an entrepreneur. “I’ve fallen in love with starting businesses. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, but it was just a struggle to get there. It just took getting involved here and talking to all of these inspired people to understand that I could do it, too,” he said.

    A majority of the finalists said Nashville’s core passion and authentic generosity will continue to foster more growth in the future. Moreland believes it’s an incredibly unique place to live and do business, and the best is yet to come.

    “It's been the greatest experience of my life getting to be a part of this [entrepreneurship and collaboration in Nashville] and having opportunities to be a part of the events with the Chamber and the EC. None of this was ever what I thought my life would be. I came here as a songwriting major. I came here as an artist. My life has totally changed, but all for the better, and it's because of opportunities like these. It's just so cool that this can happen in Nashville. I'll always come home to Nashville. I'm sure about that.”

    Clark Buckner is the online events manager for TechnologyAdvice, a Nashville NEXT Awards finalist that educates, advises, and connects buyers and sellers of business technology. He hosts the TechnologyAdvice Podcast, and also covers news and trends in the tech conference scene. TechnologyAdvice has been a Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce member since 2013.

    Go comment!
  • Regional Chambers Urge State to Reconsider School Funding

    by Marc Hill | Nov 03, 2014
    Last week, Tennessee’s four regional chambers, representing Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville, urged the state to consider the unique financial challenges facing the state’s four largest public school systems. The message was delivered to a special task force appointed by Gov. Haslam to study the state’s Basic Education Program (BEP) funding formula.

    The BEP formula, implemented in 1992 and last revised in 2007, generates a funding allocation to local school systems, with the state and local contributions adjusted based on each county’s “fiscal capacity,” or ability to raise tax revenues. The fiscal capacity calculation causes the state’s four largest school districts to rely disproportionately on local funding to adequately resource their districts, despite serving a higher population of at-risk and special-needs students.

    The task force will meet again in November to develop common principles around how the funding formula should be changed. The full text of the letter from the Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis chambers can be found below. The letter was sent Oct. 20 and read to the group on Oct. 27.


    October 20, 2014
    To the members of the BEP Task Force:

    We are writing to you today representing the business community in the four largest metropolitan regions of the state.

    It is our understanding that the commissioner’s BEP Task Force is charged with examining potential changes to Tennessee’s K-12 funding formula, operating under the assumption there will be no additional new revenue beyond the formula growth that is typically funded by the legislature each year. As you know, local governments in our urban centers provide a disproportionate amount of the total funding to their Local Education Agency (LEA) compared to most school districts across the state, and Tennessee’s per-pupil funding for K-12 education ranks in the bottom quartile of the 50 states, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    As you examine potential changes to the formula that may negatively impact the finances of the state’s four largest school districts, we ask that you consider:
    • The school districts in Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Shelby counties educate a greater share of Tennessee’s students with significant challenges. According to the 2013 state report card, these districts serve 34 percent of all K-12 students in Tennessee, but 37 percent of the state’s economically disadvantaged students and 56 percent of all English Language Learner (ELL) students. Funding levels for ELL students outlined in the last major revision of the BEP formula (BEP 2.0) have yet to be implemented;
    • Eighty-three of the 85 priority schools identified by the state for 2015 are located in the four most-populated counties, including the priority schools being overseen by the Achievement School District. The state’s lowest performing schools need a combination of reforms and additional resources in order to meet the academic needs of their students;
    • The state’s funding formula should recognize real differences in cost of living and purchasing power in urban school districts. According to the U.S. Census, median monthly homeowner costs were higher in Tennessee’s four urban counties by 3 to 14 percent more than the state overall. Outstanding educators must be incentivized through appropriate compensation to teach the state’s most challenged students.
    Our business communities believe that the improvement of our urban school districts must be supported if our regions are to continue serving as economic drivers for our state. We look forward to reviewing your recommendations.

    Sincerely,

    Bill Kilbride
    Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce
    Michael Edwards
    Knoxville Chamber
    Phil Trenary
    Greater Memphis Chamber
    Ralph Schulz
    Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
    Go comment!
  • Selling and Negotiating For Today’s Marketplace

    by Stephanie Coleman | Sep 19, 2014
    Guest post by Susan G. Williams, Ph.D., professor emerita of management, The Jack C. Massey Graduate School of Business, Belmont University

    Selling and negotiation are inextricably linked, yet research tells us that most salespeople and executives leave value on the table when they negotiate. The mutual gains negotiation process encourages joint solutions and a well-defined value proposition. Active listening and strong questions are required for results.

    The Chamber’s Sept. 24 professional development workshop, Negotiation: Strategies to Build Your Business, will equip you with tools and techniques to:
    • Prepare for negotiations more effectively;
    • Focus on problems and not on personalities;
    • Avoid typical "win-lose" situations; and
    • Deal better with those who play outside the rules.
    In well-done negotiations, both parties are able to satisfy their interests and there is open, honest communication. Through deep understanding of customer needs and what customers value, you will be able to build larger, more profitable agreements.

    Competing on price alone is no longer an effective strategy in today’s workplace. The negotiation process must have legitimacy so no one feels taken advantage of. Building and sustaining relationships is key, but not at the expense of your business goals.

    Mutual gains negotiation is focused on driving positive results and outcomes from the start, rather than dealing primarily with consequences when things go wrong. Agreements must be sustainable and flexible. Services and solutions require more cooperation between parties because value can only be gauged over time. Success is not defined at the point of signature, but is determined by the overall outcome achieved. (Tim Cummins, Win-Win Negotiation)

    Negotiation: Strategies to Build Your Business will focus on the new types of deal-making and negotiation strategies you can use to maximize results. Register today.

    When: Wednesday, September 24, 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. (lunch included)
    Where: c3/consulting’s the engine, 2975 Sidco Drive, Nashville, TN 37204
    Who: Dr. Susan Williams will lead the workshop
    Cost: $600 per person for Chamber members; $540 per person when you register two or more from the same Chamber-member company
    Go comment!
  • Congratulations to Our NEXT Awards Finalists

    by Stephanie Coleman | Sep 16, 2014
    The Nashville Area Chamber and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center have announced the finalists for the fourth annual NEXT Awards. These awards recognize excellence in business and entrepreneurship in Middle Tennessee.

    The NEXT Awards honor companies and individual entrepreneurs in five business categories that are vital to the Middle Tennessee economy: health care; technology; digital media and entertainment; social enterprise and sustainability; and products and services. Individual awards will also be given for Entrepreneur of the Year and Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

    A celebration of these finalists will be held Tuesday, Oct. 21, at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. Winners will be announced during the NEXT Awards event Thursday, Nov. 20, at War Memorial Auditorium.

    2014 NEXT Award Finalists

    Digital Media & Entertainment
    Startup
    • Make It Pop Creations
    • Proof Branding
    • Talkapolis
    • Wheelhouse Marketing Advisors, LLC
    Growth
    • DWP Live
    • Paramore | the digital agency
    • REACH, LLC
    • Snapshot Interactive LLC
    Health Care
    Startup
    • Aspire Health, Inc.
    • Bernard Health
    • InvisionHeart Inc.
    • MedCycle Management, LLC
    Growth
    • Applied Health Analytics, LLC
    • Change Healthcare
    • EnableComp, LLC
    • Sitters Etc.
    Market Mover
    • Cumberland Pharmaceuticals LLC
    • emids
    • Vanderbilt University Medical Center
    Products & Services
    Startup
    • 6th Man Movers
    • Dan's Gourmet Mac & Cheese
    • Music City Pizza
    • Pfeffer Torode Architecture
    Growth
    • Hamilton-Ryker IT Solutions, LLC
    • Inova Payroll
    • Swiftwick, LLC
    • TechnologyAdvice
    Market Mover
    • Avenue Bank
    • EHD Corporation
    • Interior Design Services
    • Reliant Realty
    Social Enterprise and Sustainability
    Startup
    • Good.Must.Grow.
    • Nisolo
    • OZ Arts, Inc.
    • PRO Employment, a social enterprise by Project Return
    Growth
    • Future Vision Energy
    • Operation Stand Down Tennessee
    • PM Environmental, Inc.
    Market Mover
    • Belmont University
    • Project Preserve, an initiative of Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee
    Technology
    Startup
    • Checkd.in
    • Cicayda
    • DePalma Studios
    Growth
    • Entrada Inc.
    • NSG
    • VendEngine, Inc.
    • Virsys12
    Market Mover
    • Bedroc
    • ForceX, Inc.
    • LPS Integration, Inc.
    • Peak 10
    Entrepreneur of the Year
    • Mark Cleveland, Swiftwick, LLC
    • Roe Frazer, Cicayda
    • Tammy Hawes, Virsys12
    • Jim Lackey, EnableComp
    • Turner Nashe, Innertainment Delivery Systems
    • Tim Ozgener, Oz Arts, Inc.
    Young Entrepreneur of the Year
    • Tim Downey, Picd.us
    • Ben McIntyre, Internpreneur
    • Channing Moreland, What’s Hubbin’
    Go comment!