A city can get a sense of place by being known for its economic specialty. Pittsburgh, for better or worse, was known for its steel mills. St. Louis and Milwaukee became famous for their beers. Chicago’s most famous products were arguably meat packing, wind and Al Capone.

In its planning study for the next two decades of explosive growth here, the Kendig Keast Collaborative offers several suggestions for Murfreesboro to find an economic niche. We’ll look at one possibility in this space today and more in the days to come.

The music satellite

Perhaps the most obvious opportunity is to poach a bit on the Music City to the north of us. Kendig Keast says the flourishing music industry of Nashville, plus MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry, give Murfreesboro an edge in promoting start-ups that serve the recording business.

That doesn’t mean that LeAnn Rimes is about to show up to make a record in a warehouse studio along Joe B Jackson or at MTSU.

Less glamorous parts of recording could flourish here

On the other hand, rising real estate prices in Nashville present an opportunity to attract businesses specializing in post production work on recordings, album cover art, marketing, and instrument making and repair. Kendig Keast even sees a place for businesses only loosely related to record-making here, such as apparel.

Music in the church?

It recommends setting up a music and recording arts incubator of about 20,000 square feet in the center of town. One possibility might be the former Methodist church on N. Chuch St. that our city fathers seem intent on tearing down.

The hope is to encourage local people — such as MTSU faculty or students — to enter businesses linked to music and recording and to draw existing companies from the state’s two music centers — Nashville and Memphis.

The endangered church or some other location in the downtown area could be to Mrufreesboro what the Brill Building, an outgrowth of Tin Pan Alley, became in New York.