Nashville business and community leaders voice support for transit improvement plan

At a public hearing for the “Let’s Move Nashville” transit improvement plan, business and community leaders turned out in force to show their support for the proposal put forth by Mayor Megan Barry.

A number of elected leaders from the region approached the podium first and addressed Metro Council, including Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan, chair of the Regional Transit Authority, and Robertson County Mayor Howard Bradley. Both spoke in favor of putting the referendum on the May ballot.

Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Ralph Schulz stood in line to underline his support of the proposal. “The Chamber’s commitment to improving transit is about two basic things: access and jobs. I am here tonight to represent our members, currently more than 2,000, who continue to express growing concern about traffic congestion and the direct impact on their businesses, “Schulz said. “Investment in transit will provide access, and with that, more options to move around Nashville and Davidson County. That movement will create new educational and vocational opportunities and give more residents the ability to prosper.”

During the marathon public hearing, which lasted more than three hours, the queue to speak lined the length of council chambers. Also in attendance were members of the Chamber's Leadership Connect cohort, which aims to help small business owners in the Nashville area become a new generation of leaders on important policy issues, including transit.

Ashely Segroves, a Leadership Connect participant and the owner of Ashley Segroves Photography as well as three other small businesses, stressed that improved transit will allow Nashville to compete with other major cities to attract talent, bring in customers and elevate the city. "The residents, employees, tourists and people who do business downtown will benefit from improved access.  With costs of parking at an all-time high, traffic into the city and congested city streets, we need a strong alternative to car access."

Ashely Northington, another Leadership Connect participant, and native Nashvillian also stood in line to address Metro Council.  The founding director at DENOR Brands and Public Relations served as team lead of the small business subcommittee for the mayor’s task force on Transit and Affordability. She said: "The transit plan will allow people to move in and about Nashville more freely and efficiently, while simultaneously creating new jobs." Northington went on to say that the jobs would help generate wealth in the community so that more Nashvillians have a chance to thrive.

Amr El-Husseini, a CEO at Lodestone Advisory Group, and Leadership Connect participant Lodestone has invested in and advised on a number of global innovation initiatives and shared these thoughts with the council: "At the core of all successes I have seen, studied, or been involved in, was a strong infrastructure program that enabled both residents and visitors to commute easily and be attracted to work and live in that place.  If Nashville is to continue to excel and grow on a national and global scale, and attract top talent, transportation is a crucial piece that should not be overlooked."

Chris Redhage, co-founder of ProvderTrust, co-owner of Nashville Soccer Club and a member of Leadership Connect commented: "We all know that there is an issue. That is not up for debate. What is up for debate is how to solve it. I support the Let’s Move Nashville plan."

He urged the council to put the proposal on the May ballot and shared something he said he learned as an entrepreneur, "Perfection is the enemy of progress.  I would not have a company today if I waited for everything to be perfect before we started. We would not have a USL or MLS soccer team if the ownership group had waited for things to be perfect. We got started, we collaborated on the vision and together create a solution."

Metro Council will vote on February 6 to determine whether or not the Transit Improvement Plan will be put before voters the May 1 ballot. Metro Council will hold additional meetings on January 11 and 16 regarding the proposal.

The Chamber supports the Mayor’s transit plan because of the short-term and long-term economic benefits for not only Davidson county, but the wider Nashville area. Having a comprehensive transit plan is necessary for sustaining the economic growth our region has recently enjoyed. To continue attracting and retaining businesses in our area, we must remain competitive as compared to other metro areas.

You can read more about the Let’s Move Nashville plan here, and find more data about the ways transit affects our region in the articles below:

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