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  • Nashville Mayoral Candidates Discuss Their Views

    by Debby Dale Mason | Oct 10, 2014

    The Nashville Business Coalition hosted the first business-focused mayoral candidate forum of the election season Oct. 9, with Nashville candidates Charles Robert Bone, David Fox, Jeremy Kane and Linda Rebrovick giving their views before a standing-room-only crowd of nearly 300 attendees.

    Each took turns outlining the steps they would take to maintain our city's economic growth while maintaining a competitive business climate. There was broad-based support among the candidates for continuing to aggressively pursue business relocations while continuing to invest in the support systems which will allow small businesses to grow and Nashville to maintain its reputation for entrepreneurship.

    The candidates differed slightly in their answers to addressing the region’s transit needs. Rebrovick called for a broader, regional approach to transit using components of the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s comprehensive plan; Kane called for an analysis of whether expanding K-12 students' use of public transportation might ease congestion and raised the possibility of starting over on transportation planning instead of relying on the Amp; Bone stressed that the region is 20 years behind on transportation planning and pointed to the costs of failing to grapple with the issue; and Fox suggested as mayor, he would build a broad community consensus on ...
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    Category: Legislative Issues
  • Your Feedback Guides Regional Transit Planning

    by Debby Dale Mason | Sep 15, 2014
    Guest post by Michael Skipper, executive director, Nashville Area MPO

    Do you take the same route to work every day? We often make this decision unconsciously as we run through our plan for the day in our minds. If you're like most people, you decide as you are leaving the house how you will maneuver through your community based on traffic congestion, construction, the stops you need to make along the way and time of day.

    The reality is that there is a strong correlation between time spent traveling our roadways and our overall quality of life. In addition to your commute to work, the other daily trips you take to run errands, care for family members or meet friends for dinner all create an experience in our day that either improves our health and mobility, or hinders it. This is why the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) needs to know how to improve your daily travels.

    To gather this information, the MPO has launched its 2014 Regional Transportation Survey to gauge transportation priorities in Middle Tennessee. This survey offers participants the opportunity to rate infrastructure needs in their community. Additionally, the survey evaluates access to, or the need ...
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    Category: Transit
  • Transit, Mobility Remain Key Chamber Priorities

    by Debby Dale Mason | Aug 14, 2014
    If you struggle with your daily commute, you're not alone. Traffic is the factor American urban dwellers say they like least about their cities, according to a study released by Sasaki Associates, a Massachusetts-based design and planning firm.

    Though the study was limited to six cities (Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.), its findings are highly relevant to Nashville, particularly as our city continues to experience rapid growth and its attendant traffic congestion. As we consider Nashville's future, we need to ensure our city is welcoming, accessible and attractive to a wide variety of people. Making it as easy as possible for people to move throughout our region is a key component of that goal.

    While we project our strong economy, high quality of life and low cost of living will continue to make Nashville one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, we need to be smart and strategic about how we plan to accommodate that growth. Earlier this year, the Nashville Business Journal reported on a study that rates Nashville as the 33rd most-congested city in the Western Hemisphere, and the 23rd most-congested city in the U.S. Average commuting times are only getting longer ...
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    Category: Transit
  • Act Now on Federal Immigration Reform

    by Debby Dale Mason | Jul 11, 2014
    This week, the Nashville Chamber of Commerce joined business leaders in more than 60 congressional districts and 25 states in a national day of action for immigration reform. The national effort was spearheaded by a coalition of leading business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Partnership for a New American Economy and the American Farm Bureau Federation, with the goal of asking federal representatives to act now on comprehensive federal immigration reform.

    Our Chamber has been a proponent for immigration reform for many years, listing it as a key item on our board-adopted legislative agendas. At the July 9 press conference, Chamber President/CEO Ralph Schulz was joined by Greg Adkins, president/CEO of the Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association, and Yuri Cunza, president/CEO of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in asking federal leaders to act. The Partnership for a New American Economy also shared results of an opinion survey conducted in Tennessee and 28 other states that showed a majority of people support immigration reform.

    Chamber research projects a gap of 22,000 workers in Middle Tennessee over the next decade. Immigration reform that supports a high-skilled worker visa program tied directly to areas of employer shortages can us ...
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    Category: Legislative Issues
  • Join Us on the Bus

    by Debby Dale Mason | Jun 11, 2014
    Guest post by Ed Oliphant, interim CEO, Nashville MTA

    Do you ride mass transit when visiting other cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, New York or Denver, but not in your own community? Every day in Metro Nashville, more than 33,000 trips are taken on MTA buses and vans. Nashville MTA offers 46 bus routes and three free circuit routes that can literally move you across the city. Cost-conscious? Well, for just $1.70 a trip, MTA is the most economical ride in town! And if you ride the Music City Circuit to Bicentennial Mall, the Fulton Complex or the Gulch, it’s free!

    To encourage ridership and add a little fun to your ride, we at Nashville MTA are partnering with the Mayor’s Office and the Nashville Area Chamber on a new #WeRidetheBus campaign. Beginning Thursday, June 12, we encourage you to snap a selfie on board an MTA bus. Then, post the picture to your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts using the hashtag #WeRidetheBus, and tell us where you're going on the bus! It doesn’t have to be you alone; get a group together to explore the city and enjoy the ride.

    Whether you are a bus-riding novice or a pro, ...
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    Category: Transit
  • Amp Project Team Announces May Public Meetings

    by Debby Dale Mason | May 12, 2014
    Follow-up to January meetings focuses on design revisions

    Members of Metro Transit Authority’s project team for the Amp, Nashville’s proposed bus rapid transit project, will lead two public meetings next week to share design changes and adjustments made to the project since the January public design meetings that solicited input from more than 1,500 Nashvillians.

    At the meetings, the Amp engineering and design team will review the feedback gathered earlier this year, examine the progress that has been made towards resolution of any issues, and answer attendees' questions. The discussion will focus largely on the route segments from Five Points in East Nashville to I-440 in West Nashville.

    The upcoming public meetings will be Wednesday, May 21 and Thursday, May 22. Both meetings will be held at 6 p.m. at the Music City Center.

    The Nashville Chamber supports the Amp as the first leg in a Nashville and Middle Tennessee rapid transit infrastructure that will connect people, jobs and destinations. Our organization is also a member of the Amp Coalition, which is comprised of diverse groups and individuals committed to creating multi-modal solutions for congestion in this area, with the Amp as the initial step.

    To make comments or ask ...
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    Category: General
  • Pilot Regional Bus Line Announced

    by Debby Dale Mason | Apr 23, 2014
    Dickson-to-Nashville express route will gauge commuter interest

    As longtime supporters of regional transit, we were excited this week to learn that the Regional Transportation Authority has announced a two-week pilot route connecting Dickson and downtown Nashville.

    The Dickson Express Pilot Project, a free service from April 28 to May 9, seeks to gauge Dickson commuters' interest in this type of route. The program also hopes to showcase the advantages of using public transportation. Equipped with 56 seats, televisions, Wi-Fi and restrooms, the coach buses will ideally transition from a first-come, first-served trial basis into a permanent commuter line. If the project is successful, Dickson residents will likely see more transit services with varying bus schedules.

    According to a recent study by the Nashville MTA and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Nashville residents who ride public transit can save more than $9,000 per year, and the rising cost of fuel means we can expect this number to continue increasing. An additional APTA study found that a person who switches from driving a 20-mile round-trip commute to using public transportation will reduce his/her annual CO2 emissions by 4,800 pounds per year. This makes public transit use one of the most effective ...
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    Category: General
  • Regional Summit Focuses on Redevelopment

    by Debby Dale Mason | Apr 18, 2014
    The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce understands the challenges and opportunities facing the growth of our communities, particularly when it comes to land use and development. That is why, in the spring of 2011, the Chamber convened a group of more than 50 public- and private-sector leaders to analyze barriers faced by commercial developers when investing in Davidson County. Working in partnership with Mayor Karl Dean’s office, a redevelopment task force was formed in the fall of that year and issued a report a year later that outlined steps to encourage Davidson County development and redevelopment.

    This year’s annual Power of Ten Regional Summit, co-hosted by Cumberland Region Tomorrow and the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, focuses on this same theme from a regional perspective: “Redeveloping Middle Tennessee Communities – Infill, Innovations, Investments.” The summit is Wednesday, April 30, from noon to 6 p.m. at TPAC's Polk Theater. The Chamber is a community partner in this event because the topics align with many of our key priorities.

    Agenda highlights include:
    • Keynote speaker TDOT Commissioner John Schroer will share experiences and lessons from TDOT’s efforts to connect transportation, land use planning, and infrastructure investments that are supporting successful community redevelopment and ...
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    Category: General
  • Proposed Bill Represents Unjust Overreach by State Legislature

    by Debby Dale Mason | Mar 07, 2014
    On March 12, the Tennessee Senate and House transportation committees are considering legislation (HB2156/SB2243) that will limit Nashville’s rapid transit options on state roads without approval by the full 132-member Tennessee General Assembly.

    This legislation, framed by House Speaker Beth Harwell, who represents Nashville/ District 56, targets only Davidson County, and this new process expands the role of the state government into local government responsibilities. As a political move to stall The Amp, this bill sets a dangerous precedent that could affect the future options of cities throughout the state for mass transit.

    For now, we know the legislation is targeting the efforts of the Chamber and other groups to expand rapid transit infrastructure options in Nashville and Davidson County. It limits options for our city to plan and limits opportunities for residents and workers who rely on and want multi-modal transit options as a part of their lives.

    Local government is an important driver of economic development, and local elected officials are best suited to evaluate the needs of their community as it grows. Allowing state representatives to decide the appropriate mode of transportation for constituents they do not represent is a clear overreach of state government.

    It is important ...
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    Category: Legislative Issues
  • 'Strategic Transit Spine' of Middle Tennessee Receives Funding in Proposed Federal Budget

    by Debby Dale Mason | Mar 06, 2014
    This has been a big week for supporters of a regional rapid transit system!

    We hit a major milestone Tuesday, when Metro was notified that Nashville’s first bus rapid transit project is now in line to receive the full $75 million grant the Metro Transit Authority applied for from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The Amp was one of three projects highlighted by the FTA in its announcement because it “will reconnect the city’s east and west sides, helping residents of Five Points and other neighborhoods more easily reach jobs, education and medical care.”

    At a press conference, Mayor Dean announced that the Amp had been awarded $27 million in President Obama’s proposed budget for next fiscal year, and the total grant will be appropriated in multiple, consecutive fiscal years, the typical process implemented by the FTA.

    Addressing regional congestion with transit solutions is a key priority for our Chamber. We know that there is still much work to do – the next step will be local funding discussions and legislation. We, along with the Amp Coalition, remain committed to community education about the need for transit solutions and why bus rapid transit is the most effective mode of transit. ...
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    Category: Transit