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  • 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
  • Amp Coalition Shares Evidence of Growing Support

    by Debby Dale Mason | Feb 21, 2014
    This has been an exciting week for transit in Middle Tennessee. On Wednesday, members of the Amp Coalition delivered more than 2,300 petition signatures from Amp advocates to U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper’s office, demonstrating increasing community support for the project.

    While at the office, our group shared the positive feedback and productive conversations about regional transit that have occurred since the Amp Yes! coalition launched in September. The petitions included more than 1,100 comments from Amp supporters for Rep. Cooper and his staff to review. We were pleased that the petition shows widespread support for The Amp throughout Nashville, with signatures from all 35 Metro Council districts in Davidson County, as well as all state legislative districts.

    This visit to Rep. Cooper’s office follows a series of well-attended public meetings in January and February (1,500 attendees), a forum hosted by the Nashville Scene (200 attendees), and many local presentations on The Amp, which have escalated the community discussion about the future of public transit in Middle Tennessee.

    Regional transit has long been one of the Chamber's top priorities because it's an essential component of economic development and quality of life. Middle Tennessee's rapid growth has outpaced projections, and maintaining that ...
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    Category: Legislative Issues
  • Looking Back On a 'Defining Moment' for Nashville

    by Debby Dale Mason | Jan 24, 2014
    Celebrating the fifth anniversary of the defeat of proposed English-only legislation this week was an emotional moment for me as an individual and as a staff member of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Nashville For All of Us Coalition that, with Mayor Dean, led efforts to keep Nashville open and welcoming.

    The referendum, which would have forced Metro government to do business exclusively in English, was defeated by Nashvillians in January 2009. Now, five years later, our city can look back and realize what a truly character-defining moment it was.

    From the very beginning, the Chamber viewed the English-only debate as an issue that limited opportunity and would have constituted an official Metro policy against inclusiveness. We knew that it would have had a direct negative impact on our ability to attract and retain companies that have an international or multi-ethnic workforce or customer base. We were also concerned about its potential to negatively affect the hospitality industry (Nashville's second-largest).

    Since this milestone vote, Nashville has continued on its path of being a competitor in the global economy and a city with a strong international business presence. We have experienced landmark growth and success in ...
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    Category: General
  • Celebrating a Nashville for All of Us

    by Debby Dale Mason | Jan 16, 2014
    The Nashville region has one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations in the nation; one in six Nashvillians is foreign-born. Investment from foreign-owned businesses contributes $10.2 billion to our local economy and accounts for 83,000 jobs in Middle Tennessee.

    Without a doubt, Nashville has been enriched in many ways by our international community. If we expect to remain competitive in the global economy, it is essential for Nashville to maintain its reputation as a friendly and welcoming place for international residents as well as visitors.

    Five years ago, this reputation was at risk, due to a proposed referendum that would have forced Metro government to do business exclusively in English. Concerned about how this would affect our local government's ability to function efficiently, as well as the negative impact on our city's image, our Chamber joined a community coalition - Nashville for All of Us - in opposition to this measure. On Jan. 22, 2009, Nashville voters defeated the English-only referendum by a margin of more than 3,200 votes.

    On Wednesday, Jan. 22, we'll join Mayor Karl Dean and other members of Nashville for All of Us to commemorate the fifth anniversary of this historic vote with a community celebration at ...
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    Category: Legislative Issues