For years, Californians looking to move have chosen Texas, Arizona and Nevada, often due to the Golden State’s steep housing costs. Ten years ago, Austin was the landing place for those seeking relief from high-priced living. Now Middle Tennessee is a destination of choice, and many multinational businesses — some previously located on the West Coast — have also relocated their U.S. headquarters to Nashville. As a result, Nashville and the surrounding counties’ economies have benefited tremendously.
We know Nashville is a great place to live and work. We offer comparatively affordable housing, museums, a world-class symphony hall, highly rated universities and an incredible number of choices for those seeking a new career path. In the past few years we’ve seen Amazon, Oracle, Ford and others move their operations here to Middle Tennessee. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that at least 25 companies moved their headquarters from California to Tennessee between January 2018 and June 2021.
In 2016, Silicon Valley-based HST Pathways chose Nashville over Austin, Atlanta and Denver for its new satellite office. This, according to CEO Tom Hui, was due to the company being “starved and hungry for talent.” Nashville has a concentration of health care companies, and its status as a hub of innovation in that industry was a great fit for the software platform created for surgery centers.
GraphiteRx, a pharmacy marketplace platform, also relocated to Nashville from the Bay Area. Founder David Zilberman was not able to pay talent what they could make at larger companies like Google or Facebook. After visiting Nashville a few times, Zilberman saw a growing tech community and expansive health care industry. When he heard Amazon and Oracle were moving here, he decided to follow suit.
The construction boom in our area has also added to the need for experts in that industry — electricians, plumbers, engineers and more.
According to the Nashville Business Journal, the Nashville region had a 270.9 percent increase in six-figure jobs from 2015 to 2020 — the largest percentage increase among the country’s large metros. We were also ranked first in growth of high-paying jobs — 5.6% of area jobs paid $100,000 or more in 2020. Nashville should be commended on its efforts to keep the economy going and growing, especially amid years of a pandemic.
Middle Tennessee is not the only area experiencing growth and financial betterment. Things are improving across the nation, due in part at least to President Joe Biden and his administration. According to Newsweek, the U.S. economy has grown faster during Biden’s first year in office than in any president’s first year since Jimmy Carter, who took office in January 1977. Stock markets have also performed well. The S&P 500 had 70 closing highs in 2021. On Dec. 30, notes Newsweek, “the S&P 500 was up more than 27 percent … the Nasdaq had gained around 22 percent, and the Dow was up nearly 10 percent.” The unemployment rate was at a 21-month low, and new jobless claims were their lowest in more than 50 years.
The new year will have its challenges, in part because COVID-19 still remains. There may also still be challenges with supply chains and inflation. But as former U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios recently told CNBC, inflation isn’t always a bad thing. “Inflation is also a sign that the labor market is tight [and] wages are good,” Rios said. “The fundamentals in general are looking good for 2022.”
Count me among those who are feeling optimistic about this year. I think Nashville and Middle Tennessee will continue to see growth and an improved economy. The trend of Californians and others moving here is not soon going to slow down. Although none of us know what the future holds, signs point to a better year in 2022. I am looking forward to it!
Bill Freeman is the owner of FW Publishing, the publishing company that produces the Nashville Scene, Nfocus, the Nashville Post and Home Page Media Group in Williamson County.