Low costs, property advantages and a high quality of life make Rutherford County ideal for corporate office and commercial development.
With more than 8,000 new jobs and almost $1 billion in fresh investment since 2011, Rutherford County is continuing its upward trend in diversified economic activity.
“We were recognized for six consecutive quarters as one of the top five communities with increase in employment,” says Brian Hercules, vice president of economic development for the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s because of the balance we have in the community – excellent education, housing, retail development, tourism, health care, manufacturing and corporate headquarters, coupled with our location and visionary leadership. These are the components companies want.”
Rutherford County, located within a day’s drive of 75 percent of the country’s major markets, has taken advantage of that strategic location and developed arteries in rail, roads and land, resulting in an impressive matrix of economic investment.
Education Leads the Way
Education has been at the forefront of that economic activity, with Middle Tennessee State University leading the way in developing programs to meet the needs of an expansive economic base. That base includes automotive, health care, corporate headquarters and advanced manufacturing.
“The presence of MTSU clearly is an economic driver,” says Rob Lyons, who has served as Murfreesboro’s city manager since 2009. “And we have been very fortunate to have progressive elected officials who want to make this a great place to live.”
Local leadership has made significant community investment through developments, including the Gateway project, where the city acquired 400 acres and provided the roads and utilities, luring Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital, as well as corporate and retail developments.
“The Gateway area now represents 7 percent of the tax base in Murfreesboro,” Lyons says. “Additionally, we’ve been forward thinking in extending water and sewer in our growth corridors and have built roads like the Joe B. Jackson Parkway and Veterans Parkway that have attracted investment.”
Corporate Relocations, Expansions
Among new projects recently announced is Schwan Cosmetics, a family-owned German private-label cosmetics manufacturer. The $38 million investment is creating 450 additional new jobs in a 173,000-square-foot corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility that will combine operations from two other facilities in New Jersey and nearby Lewisburg.
“We wanted an upscale industrial park environment, and Rutherford County provided that,” says Holli Montgomery, the facility’s managing director. “The I-24 corridor, proximity to the Nashville International Airport and the availability of good restaurants and hotels were important. The local university was huge in our decision, with programs that really focus on manufacturing needs. This helps build up a good workforce with a concentration on high-level automation.”
Montgomery also cites the public education system, which is ranked one of the top in the state, and the availability of jobs for spouses as primary decision factors.
“When we were creating our matrix, we looked at qualities for families moving here from New Jersey, hopeful they will join the team in Tennessee,” she says. “This is one of the fastest-growing communities in the United States, with plenty of jobs, housing and a strong education system. We are extraordinarily excited about this opportunity.”
Tourism Makes Its Mark
Tourism is also staking its economic claim on Rutherford County, with approximately 700 new hotel rooms coming online within the next 24 to 36 months, according to Barbara Wolke, vice president of the Rutherford County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“Rutherford County’s tourism economic impact for 2012 was at $272 million – a 7.9 percent increase over 2011 – and 2013 hotel/motel tax revenues have increased every month over the previous year,” Wolke says. “The new hotels currently under development, including the Residence Inn, the Hilton Garden Inn and a full-service Holiday Inn will support the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center – the center can accommodate almost 4,000 attendees – in drawing new conventions to the county.”
A major draw for tourism is sporting events, Wolke says, including the Tennessee Cup Youth Soccer Tournament, Tennessee State Soccer Association events, Bash in the ‘Boro, several high school championships sponsored by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association and MTSU competitions.
The community’s intentional momentum will continue, Lyons notes. “Success is never final, and we will continue to work for new opportunities,” he says.