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  • Speaker Series Brings National Transit Experts to Nashville

    by Laura Moore | Aug 28, 2015

    To ensure Middle Tennessee’s transportation system remains competitive and helps our region continue to attract new residents and businesses, it is crucial that we learn from our peers.

    Earlier this month, the Chamber launched Moving Forward, an initiative to bring together regional leaders to learn about our current transportation system, track our progress toward breaking ground on a rapid transit project by 2020, and generate ideas and recommendations to help us achieve our goals.

    On Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 3 p.m. at the Adventure Science Center, Moving Forward will kick off a new speaker series that will bring nationally recognized experts to Nashville to help Middle Tennesseans learn more about improving public transportation.

    The first installment in the series will feature James Corless, director, Transportation for America, and Stephanie Lotshaw, program officer, TransitCenter, who will co-present a talk titled “Why World-Class Public Transportation Is Key to a Competitive Economy.” During their presentation, they will explain how demographic and consumer shifts are driving new demand for transportation options, including rapid bus and rail lines, vanpools and on-demand ridesharing. They will also highlight why business and community leaders in regions like ours are leading the charge for new investments in public transportation ...

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    Category: Transit
  • Education Committee Members Talk Budget, Student Achievement

    by Rita McDonald | Aug 28, 2015
    educationcommitteeaugustThe Chamber's Education Committee recently reconvened for their first meeting of the 2015-2016 school year. Special guest Chris Henson, chief financial officer and interim director of MNPS, provided an overview of MNPS' $810 million operating budget and explained the concept of student-based budgeting (SBB).

    As opposed to the traditional funding model, which distributes resources to schools in the form of staff and dollars designated for specific purposes, SBB allocates money to schools based on the number of enrolled students. Each student receives a funding "weight" based on need.

    The overarching goal of SBB is to increase equity, transparency and flexibility in the MNPS budget. In the SBB model, students are funded equitably regardless of which school they attend, and principals are empowered to personalize their school design and innovate.

    Also at the meeting, Dr. Julie McCarger, MNPS director of federal programs and grants, explained the breakdown of funding the district receives from programs such as Title I and Race to the Top. In all, MNPS is projected to receive more than $77.9 million in federal and grant funding in the 2015-2016 school year.

    Finally, Dr. Paul Changas, MNPS executive director of research, assessment and evaluation, provided highlights of student achievement ...

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    Category: Education
  • Tours Give Community Leaders Insight into Middle Schools

    by Rita McDonald | Aug 13, 2015

    Middle school is a pivotal time in a student's academic career. The middle school years lay the groundwork for future educational success by helping students develop critical-thinking and study skills that will help them excel in high school and college.

    Acknowledging the importance of middle schools, Metro Nashville Public Schools introduced a new strategic plan for middle school redesign that gives students access to a greater range of educational opportunities, including project-based learning, foreign language classes and advanced academics offered in every school.

    For the 2014-2015 school year, the Nashville Area Chamber and the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors co-hosted four VIP tours to introduce the redesigned Middle Preps to the community, and to share how the schools' vision, mission and values are aligned with the MNPS Strategic Plan. Nearly 200 business leaders and elected officials participated in these visits, where they got an inside view of middle schools by meeting the principals, sitting in on classes and talking with student ambassadors.

    Chamber members are invited to join us for our 2015-2016 VIP tours:

    • Wednesday, Sept. 16, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Oliver Middle Prep
    • Wednesday, Oct. 21, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., West End Middle Prep
    • Wednesday,  Feb. 17, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., McKissack ...
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  • Moving Forward Initiative To Address Long-Term Transit Solutions

    by Laura Moore | Aug 04, 2015

    The Nashville region is experiencing unprecedented growth in jobs, construction and housing. But that growth comes with a cost: traffic congestion. According to research by the Texas Transportation Institute, the Nashville region ranks 11th out of 101 metros in annual congestion cost per commuter. That means we’re paying more than nearly every other major metro in the country. The U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey reports that the average Nashvillian's morning commute is 26 minutes and 30 seconds, and research from the 2014 Nashville Region’s Vital Signs report shows commute times are increasing. These additional costs and traffic delays negatively impact our productivity, economy and quality of life, and we must make long-term transportation solutions a regional priority.

    Today, the Chamber announced a new initiative called Moving Forward: Transit Solutions for Our Region, whose key aim is to break ground on a rapid transit project by 2020. Moving Forward will involve business and community leaders, elected officials and stakeholders throughout Middle Tennessee to identify funding sources for transit projects, target areas where transit is most necessary, and ultimately transform our transit landscape.

    Moving Forward will be guided by a coordinating committee, chaired by Bridgestone Americas President and CEO Gary ...
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    Category: Transit
  • 2015 Legislative Scorecard Details Progress Toward Priorities

    by Adam Lister | Jul 15, 2015
    The Nashville Area Chamber is proud to release our fourth annual Legislative Scorecard, which reports how state legislators in the Nashville region and Metro Council members have supported the needs and priorities of the business community. A printed copy of the scorecard will be mailed to each member company.

    Throughout the year, our policy team works closely with elected officials and other leaders to advocate for an environment where businesses can thrive and the region can prosper. Each year, the Chamber develops a state and local legislative agenda based on feedback from our members in our annual policy survey.

    The 2015 Legislative Scorecard details the Chamber’s advocacy efforts to advance four specific community priorities:
    1. An environment where business can prosper;
    2. Talent development of the region’s workforce;
    3. Quality of life that attracts and retains residents and workers;
    4. Regional efforts to ensure economic prosperity.

    The 2015 legislative session was a mixed year for business in Tennessee. This year, the General Assembly passed legislation further eroding private property rights by creating a cause of action against employers who terminate employees who violate their policies on firearms on company property. Additionally, the failure to pass Insure Tennessee leaves businesses at risk of being hit ...
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    Category: Legislative Issues
  • Organizations Urge Extension To Schools Director Search

    by Laura Moore | Jul 09, 2015

    Earlier today, a wide range of organizations representing the business, religious, ethnic and worker diversity in our community collectively sent a letter to the Metro Nashville Board of Education asking that the board extend the search for a new director of schools until after the election of Nashville’s new mayor.

    The school board has outlined a distinct set of criteria for the next director, and in the opinions of the organizations whose leaders signed the letter, the slate of four candidates submitted to the board by its search firm, with a couple of exceptions, doesn’t meet that standard.

    With a new director of schools, a new mayor and a significant number of new members of Metro Council, the decision regarding who will lead our school system comes at a pivotal time. Nashville is a city experiencing tremendous growth and progress. For that progress to continue will require significant skill, experience and  leadership on the part of the schools director and a search process that enjoys the confidence and support of the broader community.

    Extending the search until after the mayor’s election would allow the new mayor to assist the board in recruiting the additional high-caliber candidates to fill out the ...

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    Category: Education
  • Education Committee Wraps Up the School Year

    by Rita McDonald | May 28, 2015

    The Chamber’s Education Committee recently held their final meeting of the 2014-2015 school year on a positive note.

    Members heard an update from School Board Chair Dr. Sharon Gentry about the search for a new director of schools, who will replace outgoing director Dr. Jesse Register. Gentry shared the timeline for the board's interview process; the board's goal is to appoint the next director by July 23. She also answered committee members' questions about the qualifications for the ideal candidate. Gentry clearly stated that we need a person with great management skills; someone who exemplifies continuity and follow-up and who could execute the MNPS strategic plan.

    Committee members also heard an update from the education subcommittee, a small group that works with school and city officials to monitor the implementation progress of the recommendations from the Chamber’s annual Education Report Card. The subcommittee was happy to share that report card recommendations are being monitored and action items are in place.

    Education Committee members are volunteer leaders in the Chamber’s multi-year strategy to improve K-12 public schools. Special thanks to committee chair Becky Kantz, The Leading Edge, and subcommittee chair Derrick Free, Lipscomb University, for their leadership this year.

    We will ...

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    Category: Education
  • Academies of Nashville Awards Recognize Outstanding Public Education

    by Rita McDonald | May 19, 2015
    Last night, the accomplishments of our outstanding public schools, teachers, administrators and business partnerships took center stage at the fifth annual Academies of Nashville Awards, sponsored by Altria, Interior Design Services, Deloitte, Dollar General and the Memorial Foundation. More than 300 educators and business partners attended the awards show to celebrate the progress and success in Metro's 12 zoned high schools and MNPS Virtual School.

    MNPS launched the Academies of Nashville in 2006; the program has been instrumental in improving attendance and graduation rates. Academies programs have developed partnerships with more than 375 area businesses, and those partners have donated in excess of $9.2 million and more than 100,000 volunteer hours to work with students since 2010.

    A committee composed of school district, Nashville Area Chamber and PENCIL Foundation leadership selected nominees for each of the 15 categories. More than 300 educators and business partners voted for a nominee in each category through an online ballot.

    Congratulations to our 2015 winners!

    Academy Partnership of the Year: Media & Communications Partnership Council – Audio Engineering Society and the Academy of Entertainment Communications, Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School

    Academy Partnership of the Year: Marketing & IT Partnership Council – Fifth Third Bank ...

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    Category: Education
  • Celebrating Achievements in Metro Nashville Public Schools

    by Whitney Weeks | May 15, 2015
    According to U.S. News & World Report, the students, faculty and leadership at Hume-Fogg Academic High School and Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet have distinguished themselves above all others in our state. Once again, these Metro schools have been identified as the two highest-performing public high schools in the state, out of the nearly 1,800 public schools in Tennessee.

    In just the last few weeks, Metro Schools also announced with pride the names of the district’s Presidential Scholar and four National Merit Scholars. They tweeted about the 80 Overton High School students who are the first in Tennessee to receive a Seal of Biliteracy award. They shared photographs of beautiful, engaged, proud elementary, middle and high school students participating in the annual district-wide project-based learning fair. And teachers, team leads, counselors, coaches and principals of the year are being lauded, too.

    Recently, much ink and many pixels have been devoted to the topic of public education in our community. The central thesis of these authors – regardless of political persuasion, philosophical camp or income tax bracket – is that more needs to be done in order to ensure a quality educational experience for all 83,000 students enrolled in the ...
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    Category: Education
  • 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 ...
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    Category: Education
  • 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.

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  • 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?

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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.








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  • 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.

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  • 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!