Growing nonprofits work to improve Rutherford County's quality of life and economy.
Investment by private firms isn’t the only factor contributing to economic growth in Rutherford County. Another area of investment fueling jobs and revenue is the nonprofit sector.
In 2013, nonprofits made up 15.3 percent of all jobs within the Nashville-Murfreesboro-Franklin MSA and generated more than $9.3 billion in revenue for the area, according to a study by Middle Tennessee State University. Because much of that revenue is coming from elsewhere, the local nonprofit sector functions like an export-based industry, with one out of three dollars funneled into the area from an outside location.
Serving Needs, Creating Jobs
The United Way is flourishing in Middle Tennessee and has helped Rutherford County gain national exposure for its growth and workforce opportunities.
“United Way impacts the local community daily in areas of education, financial stability and health,” says Meagan Flippin, CEO of United Way of Rutherford and Cannon counties. “Last year, the organization’s return on investment to this community was 9:1.”
Special Kids, which opened in Murfreesboro in 1998, serves more than 8,000 children with special needs in Middle Tennessee and continues to grow. Rutherford County Area Habitat for Humanity has served more than 500 family members, and built or recycled more than 120 homes locally. Goodwill, the American Red Cross and Big Brothers/Big Sisters are other well-known organizations providing jobs while also serving the area.
International charity Feed the Children recently moved its distribution center to La Vergne to capitalize on Rutherford County’s lower business costs. This organization, which provides food, school supplies and other essentials to those in need, has done plenty of good since its move. Besides benefiting people around the world, it’s also helping residents in Middle Tennessee and has the ability to feed 1,600 families in the area.
“Our new facility is right-sized for our operations,” says Mark Opgrande, public relations manager at Feed the Children. “It’s newer and smaller, which allows us to reduce operating costs. That has enabled us to open up a teacher store to provide free school supplies and books to teachers in Rutherford County Schools.
“When we reduce operating costs, it frees up more funds to help children and families with food and essentials and teachers with educational supplies,” Opgrande says.