An economic analyst says challenges in Metro Nashville Public Schools, along with low statewide high school and college graduation rates, have kept Middle Tennessee from larger economic growth.
(This morning/yesterday), Market Street Services CEO Mac Holladay released the development consulting firm’s analysis of threats to and potential growth areas for the mid-state economy. He spoke to investors of Partnership 2010, a Nashville Chamber of Commerce initiative to promote business relocation and expansion in Nashville and nine surrounding counties.
Holladay says while 2005 was a successful year for business growth, mass-transit and education need improvement. He says executives who make decisions about relocation have a personal stake in the educational system, since many of them have school-age children. But he says the number-one relocation issue is always the quality of the available workforce.
“Any community that has difficulties in its graduation rates from high school or its percentage of college graduates, that’s a negative. So I think the challenge for Nashville is to keep improving. There are competitor communities that over 90-percent of people have graduated from high school.”
Holladay says benchmarks are set using comparable cities such as Charlotte, Austin and Louisville. Right now, Nashville is at the bottom of the pack in graduation rates as well as in the amount of funding spent on economic development.
HCA CEO and Partnership 2010 chairman Jack Bovender announced a campaign to raise 15-million dollars in investments from its business partners. That would increase Nashville’s annual spending from 2.4-million to 3-million dollars for the next five years.