First impressions from Nashville trip

NASHVILLE — By the first day, strong impressions had already formed.

Tallahassee business and economic leaders toured Music City Center, located on a 16-acre site in Nashville’s downtown. It’s spectacular not only in appearance, with its 4-acre green roof, dazzling art and sheer panel fixtures. It’s also a huge economic driver.

The delegation took mental notes. Some jotted down ideas. Day one of the trip, hosted by the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, crammed in panel discussions and tours. Each stop sparked conversations.

Here’s a snapshot of the first impressions of some trip-goers.

Marc Paul

President of Paul Consulting Group

My family and I love Nashville because it’s such a kid-friendly town. It’s a wholesome town, and there are a lot of synergies between Tallahassee and Nashville. We have a such a growing music industry. We just did a website for Tobacco Road Band, which is one of the biggest country rock bands coming out Tallahassee right now. With what Florida State is doing with jazz, kind of like when we went to Boulder and we learned a lot about entrepreneurs, now we’re really starting to kick in from a music standpoint. Nashville has already been there. We have a lot to learn.”

Shawnta Friday-Stroud

Dean of the College of Business & Industry at Florida A&M University

Clearly, it’s a city that’s been very methodical and intentional in its planning but more so to me in its implementation to see it through. It’s like they made some decisions years ago, and they are continuing to drive that in everything they do. I think that’s the hardest thing in any strategic planning process for any business. It’s the follow through. People can sit around and come up with great ideas but implementations usually go off track somewhere. And it seems like they stayed pretty much on track.

It also seems like they have a very diversified portfolio of industries. When you think about the ones they talked about, from health care to logistics and then music. When you start to look at those things on the surface, they don’t seem related. But in some ways, they’re very interrelated. I think we have to find industries that, in my opinion, in Tallahassee are not bound by logistics and locations. We’re very location challenged.

Jake Kiker

Domi Station board member

I really enjoyed the panel discussion with their university, local government and chamber representatives. There are certainly differences in scale (thankfully), but listening to their collaborative approaches to their identified problems/issues with talent retention and attraction, affordable housing and transit were beneficial.

Terri Ard

President of Moore Communications

The energy of the city is vibrant. They have a unified brand, and there is construction happening everywhere. Great growth. Great energy in a unified story that everyone is rallying behind.

Mark O’Bryant

CEO of Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare

“It’s a town that has a strong sense of place and a strong sense of self. One of the things that’s interesting is when the economy turned down in the country, it never slowed down here. They just kept pressing forward and you can see that in the growth. When the economy is rebounding, they seem to be a step ahead. Their identity is really built on quality of life. If you look at Nashville, it’s not known for any particular industries. It’s got some health care aspect and clearly an entertainment aspect. But all that combines together. What they are really known for is the high quality of life. And in today’s environment where people choose where they live because of the quality of life and they’ll make everything else work after that. This is a perfect example of that.

Contact TaMaryn Waters at or follow @TaMaryn Waters on Twitter. 

Nashville Expedition Coverage:

Economic Development Reporter TaMaryn Waters will provide daily coverage of the chamber’s trip to Nashville, which includes a jam-packed agenda. Stops include Vanderbilt University, Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Music City Center and HCA Capital View Complex. Officials say the trip is supposed to show them how other cities tackle economic development and growth and inspire initiatives that could work in Tallahassee.