Rita McDonald's Blog

RSS feed

  • Pick Your Nashville

    by Rita McDonald | Aug 12, 2014
    As you may know, the Chamber is a steering committee member and a pillar of NashvilleNext, the process to update the city’s 25-year master plan. For the last two years, we have worked with the Metro Planning Department and leaders across the county to find out what Nashville residents want for the future. Now, we’re wrapping up another phase of the public input process, known as Pick Your Nashville, and we want to make sure you're part of it.

    Based on your input in previous phases, the Planning Department has drawn up three “Futures” that affect everything from housing to economic development. We’re asking you to choose which Future you prefer by taking the NashvilleNext online survey or attending one of the remaining NashvilleNext Lounges, where you can speak with city planners about what’s important to you.

    These Futures offer very different versions of how Nashville could grow. We could continue our current patterns under “Business as Usual,” or we could create hubs of economic activity throughout the county under “Centers with Adjacent Infill.” If you’d prefer to see a stronger downtown that branches out along the county’s transportation arteries, “Downtown and Pikes” ...
    Go comment!
    Category: General
  • Join the Transportation Conversation

    by Rita McDonald | Jul 24, 2014
    As Nashville grows, it's more important than ever that we, as a community, develop long-term solutions that help residents, workers and visitors access our city. The Chamber has made transit and mobility one of our top priorities because we know it is crucial to our region's continued prosperity.

    We encourage you to attend the NashvilleNext Community Conversation about transportation on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 4-6 p.m., at Municipal Auditorium, 417 Fourth Ave. N. The special guest speaker will be Gabe Klein of the Urban Land Institute, who has served as transportation chief for Chicago and Washington, D.C.

    The Nashville Area Chamber is a member of the NashvilleNext steering committee, a group leading a strategic planning process that will guide our city's growth through 2040. As city planners frame policies that will guide our growth for the next 25 years, it's essential for them to hear from local leaders like you. Please plan to participate in this meeting. You can RSVP for the event here, and explore different options to arrive at the event here.

    Go comment!
    Category: Transit
  • Guiding Growth in Nashville's Communities

    by Rita McDonald | Jul 03, 2014
    Nashville's future prosperity depends on deliberate, smart planning that will set the stage for our city to remain economically competitive. That's why the Nashville Chamber is a member of the NashvilleNext steering committee, a group leading a strategic planning process that will guide our city's growth through 2040.

    The NashvilleNext process continues this month with a public conversation about culture and "placemaking" – how the built environment can better support the unique cultures of Nashville's many diverse communities.

    The next meeting will be held Thursday, July 10, 6-7:30 p.m., at Metro Schools' Martin Professional Development Center, 2400 Fairfax Ave. Craige Hoover, director of the Southeast region for LiveWorkLearnPlay, will be the featured speaker.

    As city planners frame policies that will guide our growth for the next 25 years, it's essential for them to gather feedback throughout our community, including local business leaders. We hope you can make time to participate in one of these constructive conversations.

    Go comment!
    Category: General
  • Join Nashville’s Housing Discussion

    by Rita McDonald | Jun 27, 2014

    The NashvilleNext process to create a plan for the future of our city continues with a community conversation about housing – how to shift from gentrification and displacement to revitalization and inclusion. The next meeting will be held Monday, June 30, 6-7:30 p.m., at Metro Schools' Martin Professional Development Center, 2400 Fairfax Ave. Dr. James Fraser, professor of urban housing at Vanderbilt, is one of the speakers scheduled for Monday's meeting.

    The Nashville Chamber is a member of the NashvilleNext steering committee in the role of connecting business to this important community process. We encourage our members and other business leaders to participate in these community conversations – the business perspective is essential as planners frame policies that will guide our growth for the next 25 years. For more background about the housing challenges and opportunities facing our future decisions, visit the NashvilleNext website for the background paper on housing.

    Here are a few statistics that demonstrate the importance of the conversation:

    • Middle Tennessee's population is expected to grow by 1.3 million residents in the next three decades, an increase of 76 percent. Nashville’s share of this growth is projected to be approximately 186,600 people.
    • 21,316 residential building permits were ...
    Go comment!
    Category: General
  • Announcing Our 2014 Academies of Nashville Nominees

    by Rita McDonald | Mar 10, 2014
    Last week, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce announced the 2014 Academies of Nashville Award nominees. The fourth annual Academies of Nashville Awards will recognize the excellent teachers, principals, schools and business-school partnerships in the district’s 12 zoned high schools implementing career and theme-based academies. 

    The 54 nominees were determined by a nominating committee composed of representatives from MNPS, the Chamber and the PENCIL Foundation. The nominating committee’s decisions were informed by more than 900 recommendations submitted by high school teachers, administrators, staff and business partners.

    In April, hundreds of educators and business partners will vote for a winner in each category through an online secret ballot managed by Deloitte. High school principals, academy coaches and teacher team leaders will all have a vote, as will academy business partners and partnership council members. All the winners will be announced at the invitation-only awards dinner on Monday, May 12.

    Each of the 12 MNPS high schools that comprise the Academies of Nashville had multiple nominations. The participating high schools are Antioch, Cane Ridge, Glencliff, Hillsboro, Hillwood, Hunters Lane, Maplewood, McGavock, Overton, Pearl-Cohn, Stratford and Whites Creek.

    Congratulations to all our nominees! We are excited and proud to recognize their outstanding work. ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Education
  • Education Committee Members Discuss Legislative Issues

    by Rita McDonald | Feb 18, 2014

    During our Education Committee's fifth meeting this year, the Chamber, Metro Schools and legislators shared information with committee members about education issues before the Tennessee General Assembly.

    Special guests Sen. Steve Dickerson, District 20, and Rep. Harold Love, District 58, serve on the education committees in their respective chambers, and fielded questions from the committee about their positions on education issues. Love said he would like to see more highly qualified teachers who graduate from Tennessee colleges in Metro’s classrooms. He also noted that education should not be a partisan issue.

    Dickerson expressed the importance of accountability for both teachers and students. This legislative session, he said he would continue to be an advocate for school choice and accountability, and is sponsoring a bill that will create more accountability for charter schools in Tennessee. Dickerson also highlighted the recent announcement that Tennessee is the fastest-improving state in the nation on the National Assessment of Education Progress, saying these types of gains are essential if Tennessee is going to meet its goal of bringing the percentage of Tennesseans with college degrees or certifications to 55 percent by the year 2025.

    Some of the top education priorities of the Chamber, the guest ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Education
  • Freshman Career Fair Helps Students Plan for the Future

    by Rita McDonald | Nov 01, 2013
    'My Future, My Way' Freshman Career Fair - Oct. 30, 2013 This week, more than 300 business volunteers spent the day at the Music City Center interacting with more than 5,500 Metro Schools freshmen for the fifth annual "My Future, My Way" Career Exploration Fair.

    We know that the freshman year is pivotal to the rest of a student's high school experience. Sponsored by Shoney’s Restaurants, the event aimed to get these teens thinking about their futures: what type of academy they might choose for the rest of their high school career, what kind of postsecondary institutions they should explore, and what types of careers they might eventually enjoy.

    The CEO Champions, a group of local business leaders who serve as public supporters of the Academies of Nashville, had a special meeting at the Music City Center overlooking the exhibit floor of the career fair. It was so exciting to see their enthusiasm and hear all their positive feedback about the interaction between the students and business partners.

    The success of the career fair depends on the time, talents and energy of our volunteers from the business community, who devote their day to meeting and talking with these freshmen about careers in a huge variety of industries. Click here to see ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Education
  • How Business Volunteers Are Helping Improve Metro Schools

    by Rita McDonald | Oct 11, 2013
    Because we know that support from our business community is essential to the success of our public schools, the Chamber coordinates five Academies of Nashville Partnership Councils with volunteer participation from more than 100 area companies.

    Members of the councils help guide the development of the Academies of Nashville, an approach that is helping students in Metro's 12 zoned high schools graduate prepared for college and career.

    We just completed a round of Partnership Council meetings. Highlights from these meetings included:
    • The Chamber’s research staff presented data about workforce trends related to each academy pathway. This information better prepared the councils to make recommendations about strategic improvements for next school year.
    • The fifth annual "My Future, My Way" Career Exploration Fair will be held at the Music City Center Wednesday, Oct. 30, from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. More than 5,700 freshmen from 20 MNPS high schools will attend, and more than 300 volunteers from Nashville’s business community will be on hand to interact with the students.
    • A representative from nashvilleAchieves attended the meetings to educate council members about this new program. NashvilleAchieves was launched in August as a public-private partnership that will make postsecondary education a reality for thousands ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Education
  • Details of 2013 'My Future, My Way' Career Fair Announced

    by Rita McDonald | Sep 11, 2013
    At last night's school board meeting, Anita Martin, HR director at Shoney’s; Dr. Jesse Register, director of Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS); and the Nashville Area Chamber announced details of the fifth annual “My Future, My Way” career exploration fair for ninth-grade students, to be held Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the Music City Center.

    More than 5,500 freshmen from 18 MNPS high schools will attend, and more than 300 volunteers from Nashville’s business community will be on hand to interact with the students. Moving to the new Music City Center has allowed the event to grow to 200 exhibitors.

    The purpose of the fair is to help students prepare for a successful high school experience, think about postsecondary options based on their interests, and inform their choice of a career academy for 10th grade. This event also offers freshmen the opportunity to interact with business, nonprofit and university volunteers from a wide range of industries and careers. Students will complete career exploration research at school in preparation for the fair and learn about professionalism. After the event, students will participate in an essay contest and other follow-up activities to show what they learned during the expo.

    Through a five-year donation, ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Education
  • Academies of Nashville Partnership Councils Plan for 2013-2014 School Year

    by Rita McDonald | Aug 05, 2013
    A week of Academies of Nashville Partnership Council meetings is behind us, and what a week it was! The Chamber convened 134 business partners at Stratford, Hillwood and Overton high schools at the end of July to discuss plans for the 2013-2014 school year, including the "My Future, My Way" Career Exploration Fair for MNPS freshmen; creative solutions; district changes; academy coach updates; and, most importantly, a shared vision of a brighter future for the Academies of Nashville.

    Each meeting began with a rundown of the new implementation of Common Core state standards in Tennessee schools. Common Core is a set of guidelines for math and English that were developed to ensure every student graduates from high school prepared for college or the workforce. Jared Bigham and Mary Cyprus Howell from TN SCORE informed the business partners of what to expect from the new standards, and conveyed the importance of the business community’s support of Common Core.

    The Chamber coordinates five Academies of Nashville Partnership Councils with volunteer participation from more than 100 area companies.

    Thanks to our volunteer chairs of each Partnership Council for their leadership:
    • Arts, Media & Communications: Lucia Folk, CMT
    • Business, Marketing & IT: ...
    Go comment!
    Category: Education