Mayor Karl Dean addressed the EO Nashville April All-Member Meeting on Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Local media was on hand to report:
Nashville Business Journal
by Jamie McGee Apr 10, 2013, 2:08pm
Mayor Dean on Music City Center's edge, the need for IT workers and gunning for Denver
Music City Center will make the city even more competitive for new conventions than officials originally thought, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said today.
The new convention center will make Nashville competitive for about 85 percent of the downtown convention market, up from 24 percent, Dean said.
The city had anticipated competing with Dallas, St. Louis and Indianapolis for conventions when the building was being planned, but now is able to compete with bigger tourism cities, including Orlando and New Orleans, Dean said at a breakfast for the Entrepreneurs' Organization's Nashville chapter.
Dean, who ran for office in 2007 saying he would build the convention center, commented on the timing of the financial crisis as plans for the center moved forward.
"We started on it, doing the planning, deciding where it was going to be built and looking around to hire folks to get it done," he said. "The economy was fine. This was September 2007, then you get into 2008. The country … goes into the deepest recession it had ever seen since the Great Depression and we decided to move forward despite people saying this wasn't the time to do it."
Dean pointed to a tourism tax revenue budget for Music City Center that is ahead of schedule by about $15 million, the more than 100 conventions booked and the close to 850,000 room nights booked for the center as signs of success. In conjunction with the convention center, the Omni Nashville Hotel, Korean Veterans Boulevard and the expansion of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Dean said he expects the SoBro area to be "totally transformed" in the next five years.
Beyond tourism, Dean offered his perspective on Nashville transit, technology and immigration.
On Nashville's immigrant communities as assets:
"We have a significant Hispanic population we have the largest Kurdish population in the U.S. We are [a] voting site for the Iraqi elections. We have a signigicant Somali population, a Burmese population. You drive around the city and you get the feel of how it has enriched the city and made it a better place. ... They could live anywhere in the United States and they pick Nashville as the place they want to live their dreams. That is a great validator."
On the need for more tech talent:
"Every time a business comes to Nashville and is thinking about relocating here, the issue of IT workers comes up. [Compared to] Raleigh-Durham and Austin, we don't measure up well when it comes to IT workers. We measure up well in a lot of different areas. Businesses will still come, but they will come in with the knowledge that they need to do something to get more IT workers."
On gunning for Denver:
The population in Middle Tennessee is expected grow by 1 million in next 20 years, growing as large as the Denver area by 2035, Dean said.
On seeking federal aid for an East-West transit corridor:
"For us to remain competitive, we have to [invest in transit]. … Sometime this year I expect we will apply to the federal government for federal aid on this, which is necessary. ... We are the only city in our region, the Southeast, that is this far along in this process. We are the obvious city to get it."
by Walker Duncan 4/10/13 12:24 pm
At an all-member meeting of the Nashville chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization this morning, Mayor Karl Dean was on hand to discuss some of the things that have led to and helped feed the recent hype around Nashville, both as a cultural and a entrepreneurial hotspot.
A large cadre of the EO’s membership was on hand for the breakfast hosted at Cabana this morning to take in the mayor’s remarks, which highlighted the city’s growth as “a testament to its strength.”
Dean touched on a number of topics during his remarks including the new Music City Center, the WorkIT program, and the benefits the city sees from, not surprisingly, the local chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization along with the Nashville Entrepreneur Center.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to help the Entrepreneur Center again,” said Dean speaking to money to be set aside in the Metro budget.. “It’s a great thing for the city and is just fantastic.”
After his remarks he fielded questions from the crowd of EO members on subjects ranging from waterfront dining to the city’s nagging tech worker shortage. With regard to the latter, Dean praised current efforts by the Nashville Technology Council and Chamber of Commerce to continue importing workers from across the country.
“It’s not something they’re able to turn around on a dime,” said Dean, who went on to stress the importance of strong school systems and public amenities such as bus-rapid-transit as important factors in making Nashville an attractive place to move. Zero income tax helps too, which he noted.
“Nashville has a history of attracting people who are creative and people who are willing to takes risks,” he said.
Continuing that trend, both with regard to the technology sector and continuing the legacy of the healthcare and music industries will remain of vital importance as the city and region move forward.