Close cooperation between businesses and local government is crucial to a city’s growth. This teamwork is one of the keys to Nashville’s transformation into city drawing corporate relocations, sports franchises, and 84 new residents a day.

I was pleased to hear local entrepreneurs and business leaders reinforce this idea during the recent Urban Land Institute Spring Meeting in Nashville, which brought 4,300 real estate and development professionals to Music City.

Panelists Bobby Frist, John Ingram and Jay Turner stressed Nashville’s successful history of the public and private sectors working together to keep our city moving forward. All three grew up in Nashville, all are successful business leaders, and all have been involved in private-public partnership projects.

Frist co-founded Nashville’s Entrepreneur Center, a partnership of local and state government support, private interests and the Nashville business community at-large. Ingram led the successful campaign to bring Major League Soccer to our city. As managing director of MarketStreet Enterprises, Turner has collaborated with local government in developing The Gulch, a LEED-certified urban community.

Good community builders know how essential it is to work with city leaders, private investors, neighbors and nonprofits to achieve goals. I learned this early in my 30-plus years of community building. I have witnessed how this collaboration can bring private-sector expertise, innovative ideas, capital and a better chance of success for the project. The revitalization of Nashville’s Hillsboro Village and 12South are good examples of these partnerships. The successful collaborations boosted local economy and created a healthy environment for neighborhood businesses and residents alike. (You can read more about the 12South revitalization in my blog.)

Amazon’s decision to bring 5,000 jobs to our city is a more recent example of a productive private-public relationship. The collaboration also includes local universities making a collective effort to train future employees.

In addition to revitalizing neighborhoods and creating jobs, private-public partnership projects can create spaces to improve our health and quality of life. Middle Tennessee’s rowing community has been working with Metro Nashville and the Trust for Public Land to build a boathouse downtown and encourage more public access to the Cumberland River. Greenways for Nashville, Metro Parks and corporate supporters together have preserved open spaces, secured walkable connections and developed more than 90 miles of greenways. Their work continues to improve health and wellness by creating a more walkable city. 

As we celebrate our city’s private-public partnerships, we now must also employ this approach to address our congestion, traffic safety and other infrastructure issues resulting from our success.