The Rise of Nashville to Become a Great Home for Surging Entrepreneurship

Nashville, known as the Music City, is also known as the nation’s best area for entrepreneurial growth. Famous for a weighty healthcare foundation and varied economy, the area is truly having a moment with its steady economic growth.
Entrepreneurs at their break time
Source: Nashville NEC
By | 10 min read

Since Silicon Valley has dominated the U.S. startup ecosystem for many decades, and current ideas seems hard to grow within such tighten space, therefore, more and more entrepreneurs find their way across the U.S. There are now many metro areas with growing infrastructure and increasingly skilled workforces that can support tech startups which are significantly less expensive than Silicon Valley or the East Coast. We are seeing operations sliding everywhere trying to find their new homes, and among the most active area comes Nashville, Tennessee.

Why Is Nashville a Good Place to Start Your Business?

Paved the way by giants like Dell, HCA Holdings or Vanderbilt, Nashville is also benefited from organization such Launch Tennessee and the Chamber of Commerce who are working together to build a business-friendly environment for tech founders and creative startups across the state.

Which means Nashville’s diverse job market and stable infrastructure is an absolute place where entrepreneurial-spirit can partner up with larger organizations or community-based initiatives to jumpstart their ideas and products. To be specific, what are the key factors Nashville is holding for this ideal blooming environment?

Economic Rising Status

For the last decades, the Middle Tennessee – Nashville area has added around 500,000 people who has generate $60,000 in annual economic activity, on average.  This means 65 -70 percent of Nashville’s economic growth in over the last economic cycle can be traced to population gains alone.

Entrepreneurs in WeWork office in Nashville
Source: WeWork

Even though the city’s economy is not depending on any area of production, Nashville is exceling in health care, music and entertainment, transportation technology, higher education, biotechnology, publishing, and tourism and conventions. Lately, is construction since the city is growing as you can see building construction are popping up everywhere around Nashville. Besides, technology is also making its mark, particularly in Nashville where startups are launching with the help of venture capitalists.

Not only Nashville is known for its music industry and a profound resources of healthcare system, but its startup opportunities are just as promising!

The city was listed as the 7th fastest growing city in 2018 and today 11th among the best places to start business according to INC. With an impressive unemployment rate of 2.7%, no wonder why folks are flocking to the Music City.

Nashville’s central location is attractive to consumer businesses, as well. For one day shipping of the city could be count to 75% of the continental US.

In addition, creative work environments flourish in Nashville, whether you need communal space, private offices with great conveniences, or a location with daily rates. Plus, there are also community resources like The Nashville Entrepreneur Center (EC) with opportunities for networking, co-working, and workshops.

Regulations and Taxes

The regulatory and tax environment in Tennessee is born to entices and boosts small businesses. In comparison with other states, Nashville’s tax and regulatory burdens are low, experts claim. There is no broad-based wage and salary income tax for entrepreneurs, especially sole proprietors. There is, however, a corporate income tax and a higher sales tax to balance the lack of an income tax. Tennessee is also a right-to-work state, which means upon employment, no one can be forced to join a labor union.

Varied Population and Industry

Staff work in a Tech company in Nashville
Source: Banjo

Nashville has an increasingly diverse population. From high-tech careers to entrepreneurs and workforce across sectors, the city has become a highly cosmopolitan region with worldwide name recognition for its economic vitality and career and business opportunities.

According to Dr. Garrett Harper, Vice President of Research for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, “Some 130 languages are represented in the Nashville public school system, highlighting the increasing cultural diversity of the area; and since 2005, the Metropolitan Statistical Area’s population has grown by 25 percent, making it the 10th fastest growing metro area in the U.S.”

Furthermore, the city has a diverse industry mix head by main sectors such as healthcare, tourism, music, and vehicle manufacturing.

“Several of these industries have a base in Nashville that leads the nation,” Harper added. “Music is a $10 billion Nashville industry with more activity than New York or Los Angeles (adjusted for population). The healthcare management industry is a $38 billion sector that employs over 500,000 globally, and tourism accounts for $5.42 billion in direct spending and over 13 million visitors each year.”

In terms of jobs, the region has added 170,000 jobs since 2010 for an overall growth of 21.6 percent, ranking 10th among large metros in the nation.

In addition, Tennessee has specific programs for minorities and veterans in small business. The state is also working to make sure people in rural communities do not get left behind by the economic boom in the big cities as evidenced in initiatives like the Governor’s Rural Task Force.

Entrepreneur Support and Investment

Supporting small business owners and entrepreneurs – who are essentially “powering” local economies and providing job opportunities to a high percentage of any growing city – is one of the most important ways to ensure stability and future growth. Former Nashville’s Mayor, Megan Barry, feels so strongly about the role of small business in the community, that she created a position within the office of economic development to focus specifically on small businesses and the creative economy.

Mayor John Cooper give talk at the NEC award
Source: Nashville NEC

Additionally, some of Nashville’s corporate giants (all of which have global reach) are investing in, providing support to, and partnering with area startups and small businesses alike. Ultimately, giving entrepreneurs access to global resources and institutional knowledge, of which they might struggle to gain access by themself.

Best of all, The Nashville Healthcare Industry Family Tree has demonstrated this theory in action. It showcases how the local healthcare, under the lead of titans as HCA and Vanderbilt, has grown to a global footprint of more than 500,000 jobs and $78 billion in annual revenue.

For its part, Dell’s Small Business hub in Nashville (one of two Dell SB hubs – the other in Austin, Texas) has the specific mission to advise small businesses customers on the right IT to poise their business to “grow and thrive.” Does not matter the number of employees, the small business experts on this team would help organizations navigate through IT needs that can often halt back early-stage companies.

“Our approach to serving small business takes a page from the Nashville culture playbook: a big city with a small-town feel,” said Erik Day, VP and GM Small Business at Dell. “We listen, address their needs, and then proactively help position their IT so that they are ready to grow, all while giving them access to Dell’s mother ship of end-to-end technology solutions.”

Vibrant Collaboration and Local Community

Launch Tennessee’s Regional Entrepreneur Centers are a good example of collaboration across the state, which cross-utilize resources between six hubs and coordinate the curriculum, mentorship programs and accelerators at each of them. Each center has its exclusive programs depending on the needs of the startup population. For example, through the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Bunker Labs particularly target on veteran-owned startups. And Launch Tennessee famous for their annual 36/86 entrepreneurship and technology conference, an event that brings together founders, investors, and ecosystem builders from across the Southeast.

Highlight speakers at an NEC talk
Source: Nashville NEC

“Our goal is to make Tennessee the most startup-friendly state in the country,” said Lindsey Cox, Innovation, and Commercialization Manager at Launch Tennessee. “We’re seeing exciting companies come out of our accelerator programs at entrepreneur centers across the state. We’re deeply involved on the ground and are working towards a critical mass of entrepreneurial activity that will put Tennessee on the map as a startup hub.”

Chris Cotton, Director of Growth Initiatives for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce added, “Programs like ScaleUp Nashville are a great demonstration of community collaboration and focus on area businesses. Funded by the Small Business Administration and led by the Chamber, ScaleUp Nashville partners with the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Pathway Women’s Business Center, Pathway Lending and Refinery Nashville to provide each cohort of growth-oriented small businesses the tools needed to grow revenue, build staff and expand services.”

Profound Educational and Mentorship Resources

Annually, the Nashville region is counted to home around 18 colleges and universities that enroll more than 110,000 students. Fun fact – that is basically one higher education establishment for every two Starbucks in Nashville. Which translates to one in every ten people likely investing resources into their education while simultaneously, and hopefully, future casting their life as key contributors to the local economy. Obviously, to be a hub for innovation and development, an educated talent pool is compulsory.

Female entrepreneurs in a mentorship program in WeWork Nashville
Source: Nashville WeWork

In terms of mentorship, Life Science Tennessee actually runs a statewide mentor network with Launch designed to support young life science companies. The fundamental purpose is to help leading-edged researchers at St. Jude’s, Vanderbilt and The University of Tennessee commercialize their ideas and develop investor-worthy pitches.  

Dell Small Business hub also opens its onsite Solutions Center — which is regularly visited by small businesses and startups to demo technology — for kindergarten to grade 12 groups, giving early exposure and access to students interested in both technology and business.

Nashville’s Growing Tech Scene

For more than 50 years, Health Corporation of America (HCA) has rooted deep in Nashville and as it forms the core of the city’s huge healthcare industry, comes along many business opportunities. With the healthcare base hundreds of other businesses have grown in the city because of the needs created by the vast healthcare complex. All these businesses offer opportunities in healthcare IT and related tech jobs that cannot be found elsewhere.

Besides, when the first tech Emma ­– an email marketing company open the route. The Nashville tech scene has continued to grow, it even attracts Silicon Velley entrepreneurs who are tired of the corruption that tech has created on the West Coast. Because Nashville, in contrast, offers a laid-back vibe, rich culture, and professional diversity.

Thanks to many deep-rooted industries and a powerful startup culture, Nashville has increasingly gained popularity as a great choice for tech companies who value the access to seasoned tech founders and investors. The state of Tennessee has also focused on providing a welcoming environment to tech entrepreneurs whose efforts bring jobs to the area and drive economic growth.

According to the Middle Tennessee State University report produced in 2018, the growth of the city’s tech industry has greatly increased the need for computer support specialist, software developers, operations analysts, and programmers. As a result, the report found that more than 46,000 people were employed in tech in Middle Tennessee and thousands of new unique tech jobs were posted to Nashville job boards each month. In total, more than 260 industries in the area employed tech workers during 2017.

Best of all, Nashville’s tech occupations come with an added advantage: its average salary significantly higher than other occupations in the area. According to the report, tech salaries were 96% above the median way of other jobs, and tech workers in management position led the area with an average salary of $113,961. Along the growing need for tech professionals with specialized skills as well as those to support the area’s established industries, Nashville is a rising place to build your tech career.

Who Is in Nashville?

From Nashville employers like HCA, Dell, UBS, and Vanderbilt are key companies that serves consumer and small business needs both nationwide and globally, who has helped pave much of Nashville’s grow path. Below are some of Nashville iconic boss!

Technology CompaniesHealthcare
– Dell
– Cognizant Technology Solutions
– Built Technologies
– Enterprise Solutions
– Provider Trust    
– Vanderbilt University & Medical Center
– Nissan North America
– HCA Holdings
– Saint Thomas Health Services
– Randstad
– The Kroger Company
– National Healthcare Corporation  

Amazon in Nashville

As Nashville continues to evolve from Music City to a strong Tech City, Amazon is taking up more real estate before officially moving to Nashville, since 2010 the company had invested more than $6.5 billion in Tennessee

Amazon warehouse in Nashville
Source: Press associate

As Amazon is moving to Nashville, it is a huge opportunity for computer science students from public schools to grow. The retail giant addressed it is providing money and support to 21 Nashville public schools for robotics and computer science and investing in three other schools to fund computer science courses.

The partnership follows on November last year, Amazon announced that it continues to spend another $230 million in Music City to bring 5,000 jobs to the under-construction Nashville Yards, located downtown. The company is locating an operations hub in Nashville. 

Nashville’s Resilience Amid Pandemic

Nashville popularity as a promising city has not showed signs to decrease. Especially with COVID-19 pandemic, analysis shows the number of people moving to Nashville could accelerate.

art entrepreneurs collaborate and discuss at NEC
Source: Nashville NEC

After a conduction on population and market growth, the National brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap has witnessed how the health crisis could affect commercial real estate. The report states secondary markets such as Nashville have seen population growth outpacing larger metros (primary markets) over the last 20 years.

“This trend may accelerate going forward as the global health crisis prompts residents of densely packed, high-cost urban hubs to consider the financial and lifestyle advantages of moving to smaller cities,” the report states.

Companies have followed as reflected by the landing of Amazon to Nashville and the expected arrival of Facebook, who is planning to build a data center at north of the city. “The economic downturn instigated by the pandemic may motivate more firms to shift a greater share of operations to lower-cost markets that provide flexibility in how space is utilized,” the report states.

Since 2015, Nashville saw a population growth of 9.6%, the 5th highest rate according to U.S. The report states companies have been drawn to cities like Nashville in search of advantages such as reducing overhead, tax exposure, well-regarded universities creating new talent, and reducing overhead.

A big driver in terms of the population increases is the company’s expanding to Nashville. The report states “Such a relocation or expansion can help diversify a firm’s workforce and reduce operating expenses, opening up more professional opportunities for those looking to move.”

The Bottom Lines

Nashville indeed is doing it all right, from the movement to expand through the healthcare foundation to engage startup with many investments and communities. Especially with its startup culture, along the low business costs which is 5 percent lower the national baseline. The city has been planning for this since a long time ago, and now it’s time to flourish.

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