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Chamber President Discusses Nashville’s Vital Signs at Catholic Business League


Nashville Chamber of Commerce President Ralph Schulz shared details of Nashville’s growth and the challenges that lie ahead at this morning’s Catholic Business League breakfast at Cathedral of the Incarnation.

Schulz, who attracted a large gathering of businesspeople and community leaders on a cold and still wintry morning, shared that the Chamber’s Vital Signs 2015 report shows the city in very good economic health, but with four major challenges to address.

After sharing his faith story, growing up as the oldest of eight children in Chattanooga and his time at Chattanooga Notre Dame and UT, Schulz pointed to the city’s health in a number of areas.

  • The region is now the 86th largest economy in the world and is growing at the rate of 65 new people every day.
  • Unemployment is low…in fact the city needs more workers
  • The city is affordable
  • High skill jobs are growing; low skill jobs are declining.
  • Baby boomers are retiring and millenials are growing—the latter group will make up 50% of the workforce in Nashville in the next five years.

Reminding the audience of the Chamber’s goal—to create economic prosperity—he emphasized that prosperity means all of us generating more to the economy than we consume. “There is a lot to celebrate about the city,” he said, “ but our growth focuses attention on four key areas that we need to address in order to continue our prosperity. Those are: education, transportation, affordability and health. “

In sharing the results of the Vital Signs study, Schulz provided an overview for each of the areas. View the full study here.

  • Education is key because of the need for more workers for more high skill jobs. But he was quick to emphasize that those jobs don’t necessarily mean a college education. “We need more people to fill the jobs that are open here. The trades in Nashville need workers to build the buildings and the homes for our newcomers. We have a shortage of those workers. We have a shortage of IT programmers. Education—college, certificate programs—will make a difference.”
  • The transit system will be transformed because it will have to be. “The discussion of the Amp showed people that we can’t solve transportation issues by simply adding more highway lanes. The millennials who will be dominating our workforce in five years have the lowest car ownership rates in the nation, and they are foregoing drivers licenses. We won’t be able to serve their needs without a transit system.”
  • Affordability remains a strong point for Nashville…today. Income is at 116% of the national average and cost of living is 96% of the national average. “That’s a very good margin, among the best in the nation. But it is narrowing, so we need to make sure the city stays affordable.”
  • And finally, in the health care capital of the world, we have a less healthy population. Schulz emphasized that we need to address that across the region to ensure that our lifestyles and our work lives remain healthy.

“The creative spirit of Nashville translates into 23% of our economy coming from the entrepreneurial segment, almost double the national average. That creative spirit will continue to make Nashville an exceptional city to live.”