Charlotte business leaders and elected officials will descend on Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday for the Charlotte Chamber’s annual trip to glean ideas from another city.
Attendees will spend three days touring Nashville and hearing from business leaders and officials there. “It’s one of the hottest cities going in virtually any ranking of ... positive economic development,” Chamber President Bob Morgan said.
Besides the business leaders, Charlotte representatives listed among attendees include Mayor Dan Clodfelter and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Ann Clark.
The chamber last visited Nashville in 2004. “Since we’ve been there, they’ve just hit new levels of growth,” Morgan said.
Such trips offer representatives of the two cities a chance to learn from each other, Morgan said. For instance, Charlotte is ahead of Nashville on mass transit, he said.
“But we do these trips to study the best practices of others,” he said. “And when a city’s hot like Nashville … they’re obviously doing some things right.”
1. Having a ‘clear brand’
Nashville has long been known for its country music industry: Its nickname is “Music City,” and it’s home to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Its image as a music hub has been reinforced recently by the TV show “Nashville,” a drama about country music stars.
“Nashville begins with the brand of country music,” Morgan said. “It’s the calling card.”
Morgan said one aim of the trip is to learn how Nashville leverages its “clear brand” as a music center, though its economy is much more diverse than that.
2. Growing a core industry
On the first day of the visit, attendees will learn about “Nashville’s booming health care industry,” according to the trip’s itinerary.
According to the Nashville Health Care Council, an industry group made of health care industry companies, the sector is Nashville’s largest and fastest growing employer, directly employing 110,000 people – up more than 20 percent since 2004.
One of the health care companies based in the city, HCA Holdings, is a Fortune 500 company.
Morgan said the chamber’s trip will offer chances to learn how Nashville has grown that industry, and how those lessons could apply here to other industries, such as financial services and energy.
3. Coordinating help for entrepreneurs
Morgan said the trip will also offer a chance to see how Nashville supports its entrepreneurs.
Attendees will tour the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, a nonprofit operation in downtown Nashville designed to help entrepreneurs get started or grow their businesses.
The 20,000-square-foot center is in a trolley barn that was renovated through a public and private partnership into a “creative campus.” It’s primarily focused on four sectors key to Nashville: health care, technology, digital media and social enterprise, according to the chamber’s itinerary.
Charlotte also has resources for entrepreneurs, Morgan said, including uptown’s Packard Place, a hub for emerging companies. But “we don’t tie those different components together as cohesively as other cities like Nashville,” he said.
Roberts: 704-358-5248; Twitter: @DeonERoberts