The consultant the city hired to help deal with the next two decades of rapid growth here believes the boro’s economic future lies in greater cooperation with Nashville and other cities in the region.
By getting involved in regional initiatives — ranging from rapid transit to regional planning and marketing campaigns — Murfreesboro can piggyback on Nashville’s powerful economic engine.
- What follows comes from a draft of the consultant’s economic chapter, which was passed out for comments several months ago and is subject to change.
As an example, the Texas-based Kendig Keast Collaborative claims Murfreesboro could become a hub in an aviation corridor, stretching southward from the Music City and having a terminus here.
MTSU is the key player
The two key assets in this strategy are:(1) the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, which can help promote an aviation brand for the county, and (2) the aerospace program at MTSU.
Expand MTSU’s aerospace program
Currently the MTSU program is focusing on pilot and air traffic controller training and research into drone technology.
Kendig Keast believes the MTSU program could get involved more deeply in the engineering and technology side of the aerospace business. The college’s new science building and its current engineering program, which blends such fields as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer control and information technology, could make this expansion smooth.
MTSU should seek heavyweight partners
One option, the consultant suggests, is for the university to seek a partnership with major aerospace companies or powerful research universities like Cal Tech and MIT.
Tie-in between aerospace and tourism
The chamber could help by tying the area’s strong tourist industry to an effort to establish an aviation brand here.That could involve attracting air shows and aviation conferences to the city’s existing conference center.
“The Nashville Chamber of Commerce should be enlisted to add the aviation industry as a primary recruitment target,” the consultant writes.
An anchor aerospace firm as a catalyst
He says a realistic goal within the next thee to five years would be to recruit or help someone start locally a business making aircraft components or one that refurbishes tired or outdated airliners. Such a business could become an anchor and magnet for smaller, related businesses that come later.
A map pointing the way to our future
Here is a concept map of the way Murfreesboro could develop economically. The consultant says the manufacturing segment is declining and will never employ the numbers of workers it once did. The nature of manufacturing has changed, too.
“Manufacturing requires more brains than brawn,” the consultant writes, “and involves … highly sophisticated technology — such as 3d printing, laser technology, computer-assisted design … robotics and supply-chain software.”
In the map below, “TOD” stands for “transit oriented development”, which mixes residential and commercial development around a transportation hub. None of the business parks, at least at the time this chapter was released, would contain any heavy industry. In fact, they aren’t designed for warehouses either.