Metro officials say they have decided to let pass a Sept. 14 deadline to apply for federal transit funding that would help build the planned bus rapid transit line from West End to East Nashville. Instead, they're now looking to get federal funding from a new law that kicks in Oct. 1. And while there's no firm timeline for when the feds will release guidelines for those interested in their cash, one official said the big-picture plan is still on track.
“We’ll still continue to move forward with our preliminary engineering for this project, and everything else,” said Jim McAteer, MTA’s director of planning and grants. “I don’t see it as being a major delay. We’re targeting the end of 2015.”
Southwest has only 18 daily flights out of Newark Liberty International, and two of them will leave for Nashville. United Express also offers daily flights between Nashville and Newark, but the two cities haven’t been linked by large jet service since 2005.
A regional airline will, if chosen by federal officials, soon connect the home of the University of Georgia and R.E.M. with Nashville International Airport. SeaPort Airlines is one of four carriers applying to provide so-called essential air service to Athens-Ben Epps Regional Airport. SeaPort had been in the running late last year to connect BNA to Tupelo but, based on its current flight schedule, was not chosen to handle that contract.
On the day General Motors formally launched production of its Ecotec engine in Spring Hill, Gov. Bill Haslam today joined his peers from Michigan, Missouri and Illinois to launch the National Governors Auto Caucus, a group being supported by the National Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers. The four governors say they will look to be a unified voice for the continued development of the U.S. auto sector. Their states employ a combined 2.1 million people in auto-related jobs.
Councilman Charlie Tygard wants to cut by a third the $300,000 payment Metro makes annually to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce's main economic development initiative. Tygard has introduced a bill that would link Metro's check to the contributions made to Partnership 2020 by suburban counties.
“It just seems to me that the contribution for Davidson is skewed on our taxpayers versus the expectations of the surrounding counties,” Tygard told The City Paper, adding that he filed the bill to at least begin that discussion.
There's no denying that Middle Tennessee's IT community has a buzz like never before. Networking groups are gaining traction, entrepreneurial ventures are sprouting left and right and various recent events have attracted Googlephiles and those hungry for hackathons. Pub like this Fast Company piece doesn't hurt, either.
So when the Nashville Technology Council's quarterly report on area tech job openings showed a big drop — 17 percent from early this year and 35 percent from last summer — we scratched our heads and called NTC chief Liza Lowery Massey for some perspective.
There's no simple answer that explains the drop, Massey said. Macroeconomic issues definitely play a role — job growth has slowed again nationally and regionally in recent months — while this fall's election has put on hold a lot of people's plans. On top of that, the recent Supreme Court ruling on health care reform may have some of our biggest corporate names treading water as they wait to see how rules and regulations will shake out.
Another factor to consider is that, as efforts by the NTC and others to build a tighter tech community gain a foothold, a lot of hiring activity is becoming more informal and moving away from the job boards that make up the NTC's survey.
One of the positives Massey noted in the NTC's numbers: Two firms outside of health care — law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw & Whitman and logistics giant OHL — showed up among the top companies looking to fill spots. Combine that trend with the other drivers in the local tech scene and things look set to get better, especially once the macro clouds dissipate.
With less than two months until they need to submit a grant application to the Federal Transit Administration, members of Mayor Karl Dean's administration and other backers of Nashville's planned bus rapid transit line have been out drumming up support. Joey Garrison writes that they also will soon have to present a plan for paying the project's $174 million price tag.
“It’s the idea of value-capture,” said Doug Tennant, vice president of URS Corp., a San Francisco-based engineering firm with a Franklin office, which MTA has contracted with on the BRT project. “If we went out there and created a new street and streetscape for West End Avenue, and created a better West End Avenue, it would enhance property values along that corridor. If you own a restaurant there, and I create a nicer environment, suddenly your property gets enhanced.”