NASHVILLE, Tenn.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce unveiled its Nashville Region’s Vital Signs 2013 report today at a presentation to the Middle Tennessee Mayors Caucus, kicking off a yearlong collaborative process of addressing specific regional needs with community-driven action plans. The Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is serving as the Chamber’s lead partner in the initiative.
“The Nashville Region’s Vital Signs report gives us a strong foundation to build on as we look to create strategies aimed at managing our region’s future growth and development while addressing specific needs”
The comprehensive report created by the Chamber’s Research Center explores the vital signs that help determine the 14-county Nashville region’s strengths as well as its challenges in four broad areas: economic vitality, quality of place and life, human capital, and regional effectiveness.
“The Nashville Region’s Vital Signs report gives us a strong foundation to build on as we look to create strategies aimed at managing our region’s future growth and development while addressing specific needs,” said Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. “This report is the first step in a yearlong process, and the entire initiative will be ongoing in future years.”
Among the key takeaways identified in the research report:
- As the region continues to recover from the Great Recession, small business and entrepreneurial growth, as well as overall growth in business establishments, are important measures of economic vitality and must be monitored.
- One of the region’s strongest advantages is its lower-than-average cost of living and higher-than-average per capita income, creating greater spending power and a compelling reason for people and businesses to locate here. Despite this competitive edge, Nashville-region households spend on average more than half of their income on the combined cost of housing and transportation, indicating a need to focus on affordable housing choices that are accessible to transit.
- The region falls behind the national target in most categories when it comes to health and well-being.
- The region currently outpaces the state and the nation in attaining lower unemployment levels; however, it must adapt to changing workforce needs by recruiting new talent, retaining adult workers, better aligning education programs and skills with industry trends, and increasing educational attainment levels to meet projected workforce demands.
- The region represents a large share of state infrastructure needs, with a range in the ability to fund needed services across counties. Shared systems and approaches are needed to create cost savings and increase efficiencies.
“The overarching goal of the Vital Signs initiative is to create a regional framework from which to address specific areas of importance,” said Michael Skipper, MPO executive director, “whether they are challenges, such as mitigating increases in traffic congestion, or opportunities, such as building on the strengths found in many of the quality-of-life and -place indicators.”
The initiative includes a Vital Signs Action Team comprising community leaders tasked with guiding the solutions process. Christine Karbowiak, chief administrative officer, chief risk officer and executive vice president at Bridgestone Americas, Inc., is chairing the Vital Signs Action Team, and Chris Holmes, president and chief executive officer of FirstBank, is serving as vice chairman.
The Nashville region joins more than 40 communities across the world releasing Vital Signs reports today. In addition to Canada, where the Vital Signs model was created in 2001, other communities using this framework to identify regional issues and solutions are located in Australia, Bosnia, Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The full Nashville Region’s Vital Signs report can be found at NashvilleChamber.com/VitalSigns.
About Nashville Region’s Vital Signs
Nashville Region’s Vital Signs is a collaborative process led by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce to track key issues that impact the region’s economic well-being and activate community-driven solutions. The Nashville region joins more than 40 international cities using this framework to identify regional issues and solutions. The Vital Signs process was created in 2001 by Community Foundations of Canada to be a broad community-agenda-setting mechanism that focuses on outcomes and solutions to key community issues. The Vital Signs trademark is used with permission from Community Foundations of Canada. For more information, visit nashvillechamber.com/vitalsigns.
About Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is Middle Tennessee’s largest business federation, representing more than 2,000 member companies. Belong, engage, lead, prosper embodies the Chamber’s focus on facilitating community leadership to create economic prosperity for Middle Tennessee. Together with its affiliates, the Nashville Chamber works to strengthen the region’s business climate and to enhance Nashville’s position as a desirable place to live, work and visit. For more information, visit nashvillechamber.com.
About Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization
The Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is the federally-designated transportation planning agency for over 2,800 sq. mi. and more than 1.5 million people throughout Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, Wilson, and parts of Maury and Robertson counties. Serving as a regional partnership among the U.S. DOT, Tennessee DOT, local elected leadership, local planning and public works directors, the business community, and citizens across the five-plus county planning area, the MPO leads in the development of the region’s long-range transportation plan and short-range Transportation Improvement Program, and contributes to ongoing conversations about issues such as land use, economic development, climate change and the environment, safety and security, and health. For more information, visit nashvillempo.org.