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The Right Address – Rutherford County Attracts Corporate Headquarters & Creative Talent

Learn why global corporations as well as small startups are choosing to call Rutherford County home.

By Teree Caruthers on May 24, 2016

With its central location, highly skilled workforce and quality of life amenities, Rutherford County has attracted globally known manufacturers and distributors, such as Nissan North America Inc., Bridgestone and Amazon Fulfillment. But to compete in an increasingly global and technological economy, county leaders are turning their attention to providing the space and environment to bring major corporations, as well as small businesses and entrepreneurs to the area.

Their efforts are paying off. Kasai North America, a global manufacturer of interior parts for automakers including Nissan, announced plans to build its $13.4 million North American headquarters in in Murfreesboro.

“Our university and talented workforce mean that great jobs and new investments are coming here,” says Murfreesboro City Manager Rob Lyons. “We also know that good planning equals good growth, and that’s why we have a number of planning projects underway. The Gateway project, our downtown and other areas are open for business, and we know they represent excellent opportunities for employers and new growth.”

TwelveStone Health Partners in Murfreesboro is investing $14.9 million to build a corporate headquarters that will provide the firm with a centralized location for its corporate, logistics, billing and service divisions, along with warehouse space. The 30,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Murfreesboro’s Heritage Square will create 200 new jobs.

Strategic Location

Rutherford County’s proximity to Nashville, its location along I-24 and enviable quality of life are major draws for corporations, especially those with advanced manufacturing operations, that are looking to grow, says Kevin Rigsby, Smyrna Planning Manager.

“Transportation is one of the primary driving factors in those types of businesses,” Rigsby says. “They have to be able to bring in the raw materials or the smaller parts they can use to make the bigger parts. They have to get them here efficiently and get their finished product out efficiently. We have rail access, access to Interstates 24, 65 and 40, and the largest general aviation airport in the state.”

Rigsby adds that the county’s hospitals, top-notch school system and recreational opportunities are added benefits, and Gretchen Bilbro, owner of Cultivate Coworking in downtown Murfreesboro agrees.

“The Murfreesboro area has so much to offer,” Bilbro says. “We are growing at lightning speed while maintaining a low cost of living, which is something that really can’t be said of other areas of the country. We have great schools, miles of greenways, beautiful parks and recreation areas, shopping and restaurants – all the modern amenities that you find in larger cities.”

Cultivating the Creative Class

Bilbro established Cultivate Coworking in downtown Murfreesboro to meet the needs of the city’s growing number of entrepreneurs, remote workers and freelance professionals. The organization provides office space and business support services, such as Wi-Fi, to members and strives to accommodate the types of jobs that new technologies have enabled.

“So many people work as freelancers or have jobs that allow them to work from anywhere,” Bilbro says. “Millennials, especially, are moving toward careers that allow them to have a better balance between life and

work. We offer people a great deal of flexibility because they aren’t locked into a long-term, expensive commercial lease.”

Bilbro’s organization is one of several working to recruit and retain millennials, entrepreneurs and other professionals. The Small Business Development Center at Middle Tennessee State University works with the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce to offer free consulting and startup services for budding businesses. On the infrastructure front, commercial developer Hearthstone Group is building the Fountains at Gateway office and retail park on Medical Center Parkway in hopes of attracting more than 1,200 white-collar jobs. Plans for the first phase will include a four-story, 10,000-square-foot Class A office building with street-level retail and restaurant space and two 11,000-square-foot retail buildings.

Developers expect the project and others like it to help curb the tide of MTSU graduates leaving the area to find work. In 2014, the City of Murfreesboro assembled a team of residents, local business owners and community leaders to help plan for the next 20 years of growth and development. The end result of the planning process, dubbed Murfreesboro 2035, will address improvements in housing, public transportation, land use, and parks and recreation.

“We are having a conversation with our community to develop a comprehensive plan for growth,” Lyons says. “Attracting talent and workforce is a big part of that conversation. Millennials and the creative-class workers are looking for great places and vibrant downtowns – and so are employers.”

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