Nashville Entrepreneur Center leaders will on Tuesday afternoon announce details of a partnership with the well-known Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation that is designed "to strengthen the city’s capacity to support entrepreneurs." The venture is expected to take 18 months. More information to come soon.
Lee Co., one of the largest private companies headquartered in Williamson County, plans to build a 100,000-square-foot home office in the Berry Farms development, where it has bought about seven acres. Getahn Ward at The Tennessean has the details on the planned move, which is similar to one in the works for Dave Ramsey's financial planning enterprise.
Perko said Lee Co. chose Berry Farms to reasons similar to its choice of Cool Springs years ago for its current headquarters.
“It’s in the path of progress,” he said about Berry Farms where Lee Co.’s planned building will be among the first office space. “We feel like we’re getting ahead by being in the new development.”
Gov. Bill Haslam's 10-minute pep talk Wednesday on the latest happenings in Tennessee's business stratosphere lacked any mention of the state's most high-profile investment: Volkswagen. But Haslam did address the topic in remarks after his formal address to the two-day Governor's Conference on Economic and Community Development at the Renaissance Hotel.
The German auto company announced earlier Wednesday that Winfried Vahland, the head of North American operations for less than a month, has left the company over disagreements about how to restructure the business. The move leaves Volkswagen without a continental face following revelations that the company equipped vehicles with devices to skirt diesel emissions tests.
“He was actually supposed to have visited Tennessee this week or last. I guess we know now why he didn't come,” joked Haslam when talking to reporters after his speech at the 62nd Annual Governor's Conference on Economic and Community Development. “The key thing is for Volkswagen to define the problem and say what they're going to do about it. I think until they do that, everybody's going to be looking with some doubt about what they're doing when what we need them to do is say, 'Hey, we're making a lot of good vehicles.' And we need them to get back to selling those vehicles.”
Tennessee invested an estimated $360 million of incentives to lure Volkswagen to the Volunteer state, with local governments coughing up another $220 million to manufacture the Passat here. Another $260 million is on the way between state and local governments for a second line of vehicles.
Before hundreds of people at the annual conference downtown, Haslam stressed how easy it is to sell businesses on locating to Tennessee. Connecting education to the workforce is a must, he said, and the need for a rural development initiative is real and a new project of his administration. The state's work on development is a team effort, he added, and said despite occasional disappointments, the outlook is encouraging.
Franklin city officials and Williamson County leaders have approved millions of dollars of tax abatements and other incentives to facilitate the headquarters relocation of the holding company for Dave Ramsey's financial planning tools and services. Lampo Group/Ramsey Solutions plans to build a new home office to replace its base in Cool Springs. Nothing definitive about the new HQ's location has been announced, but public officials have said Ramsey has picked a section of Boyle Investments' large Berry Farms project at the Goose Creek exit off Intestate 65 for the $98 million project. (The area encompasses the blue section in the bottom right of the image below.)
Emily West at Franklin Homepage has a rundown of the incentives — which include more than $3.7 million from the county — as well as Lampo's ambitious hiring plans, which stretch well into next decade.
Here's a local economic indicator we should probably watch more closely — especially as we discuss what to do about affordable housing and income inequality. Nashville-area seasonally adjusted average hourly earnings, as compiled here by MTSU's Business and Economic Research Center, have basically circled $23 for the past year and a half. And for the past five months, they've been below year-earlier levels, the longest such streak since the spring of 2013. This has happened as the average number of hours worked weekly also have dipped since early 2014.
It could be that the current downswing is nothing more than a cyclical breather after last year's pretty steep increases, when year-over-year increases topped 5 percent for seven straight months. But if it's a structural issue, it could point to an oversupply of labor — thanks to all our new friends moving here, perhaps? — or a potentially troubling reticence from many local employers to commit to raises because of concerns about their growth prospects in the coming year and beyond.
Here's the chart showing the year-over-year increases going back to the beginning of 2012.