Executive Director's Message
Each year the Nashville Business Journal publishes the results of The Beacon Centers most and least business friendly cities in Tennessee. In its most recent ranking, Ms. Jamie McGee of the Journal discussed the findings which listed Lebanon (6th) and Mt. Juliet (4th) among the largest fifty cities in Tennessee. I thought it important to discuss these rankings and why we should take this as a call for further thought and action.
While this ranking emphasizes low taxes other annual rankings include such items as community investments in livability and other public amenities. While we should be proud of our rankings one should keep in mind that our competition is near. Smyrna, Hendersonville Franklin and Brentwood are in the top ten cities with other middle Tennessee communities also receiving high rankings. Also keep in mind that less than ten percentage points separate the top ten cities.
Components of the rankings included property tax rates, sales tax collections, job and population growth, violent crime rates, household income, cost of living and high school graduation rates. They are then combined into four categories titled business tax burden, economic vitality, community allure and overall ranking.
What can we learn from the report? We certainly are aware of our population, per capita and sales tax growth. Recent educational scores also indicate great progress and our commitment to new facilities cannot be questioned. The challenges of maintaining our rankings lie in the ability to meet our community allure. With the possibility of less federal and state funding the question arises as to how do we continue to fund required vital services? Will our cities and county be able to construct new schools, build roads/interchanges, and improve utility, police and emergency services?
Communities that have coordinated and funded plans which prioritize projects and initiatives in a systematic and supportive nature will be the ones that appear in future rankings. That is why our community must continue to examine the feasibility of event centers, tourism initiatives and other unique sources of revenue. It is also why the continual recruitment of retail and industries are important.
It is the great balancing act of development. Balancing the requirements and needs of a community with the cost of providing those services. It is why it is important to bring a mixture of all jobs to the community in a systematic approach with recruitment, incentives and through a strategic plan. Our future is bright but will remain so only if we approach it through a coordinated and committed approach.