City-to-City Destination: Nashville, TN

By Stef Flores
Community Advancement Program Coordinator

Last month, Suzy Finn and I went to Nashville in preparation for this year’s City-to-City Leadership Visit, scheduled for September 19-21. Besides eating our way through the city’s restaurants and winding our way through the city’s streets, we met with some instrumental city leaders and reaffirmed why Nashville is the perfect destination for this year’s trip.

Nashville is an impressive city. It hosts one of 10 Google tech hubs in North America, the downtown area has seen over $4 billion in investment since 2000, and between 70-100 people move to Nashville every day. So, what are some parallels that exist between Nashville and our very own Wichita?

IMG_0705Nashville hasn’t always had a prized downtown district. “Twelve-fifteen years ago, people took pride in how long they could avoid our downtown area,” Tom Turner, with the Nashville Downtown Partnership, told us. “There’s finally a shift in that mentality.” And he’s right. With the development of The Gulch, which used to be warehouses and train tracks, and the immense effort put into keeping the downtown area both safe and clean, the area is drawing more visitors and more residents than ever before.

There’s a strong entrepreneurial spirit that shines in Nashville. With the sun posed high in the sky, we made our way out to Nashville’s Trolley Barns to tour the esteemed Nashville Entrepreneur Center. Founded in 2010, the EC (as locals call it) touts programs in four focus areas: technology, music tech, publishing, and healthcare and provides mentoring opportunities to strengthen the ties in the community.

Suzy Finn (pictured) & Stef Flores visited Nashville last month to prepare for our City-to-City visit this fall.

Suzy Finn (pictured) & Stef Flores visited Nashville last month to prepare for our City-to-City visit this fall.

Healthcare is one of Nashville’s top industries. According to Jamie Lee with the Nashville Health Care Council, more than 400 healthcare companies operate in Nashville, and more than 600,000 people are employed in the industry.

The Cumberland riverfront is getting a makeover. A pedestrian bridge offers those seeking modes of active transportation an impressive view of the city (we can attest!), while the new Riverfront Park boasts an amphitheater that can hold up to 6,500 people for outdoor concerts.

CmD3DkwWIAEHFhx_cropNashville’s found its identity. No one named them the “Music City;” they named themselves. Self-branded but nationally recognized as the center for all things music, they live and breathe this identity. As we stepped off the plane, we were greeted by live music from Tootsie’s airport location, rock music blasted us from boxes along their downtown streets, and it was difficult to miss the large music note printed on the floor at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Music City certainly has a lot going for it, and we’re excited to show this year’s leadership group some of the initiatives, programs, and partnerships that secured Nashville as our top selection this year.

For more information, please contact Stef Flores at sflores@wichitachamber.org.

#ICT2Austin

Tami Bradley of Bothner & Bradley visits with Bill Roy of the Wichita Business Journal during an orientation session for the city-to-city visit

Tami Bradley of Bothner & Bradley visits with Bill Roy of the Wichita Business Journal during an orientation session for the city-to-city visit

The Chamber’s 2014 City-to-City trip takes place this week and 50 participants are visiting one of American’s fastest-growing cities, Austin, Texas. The Austin metro area doubled in size between 1990 and 2010, and now hosts 4,000 technology companies. Reports indicate that 110 people move to Austin on an average day.

The Chamber’s City-to-City delegates have ten sessions scheduled over a two-day period with Austin leaders to learn more about how they super-charged the city’s growth plan. Trip participants will also learn more about Austin’s successful talent attraction and retention efforts.

Suzie Ahlstrand, Executive Vice President of Community Development for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce reports that many of this year’s participants are young professionals from Wichita. “Austin is a strong magnet for young professionals and we’re looking forward to learning more from their leadership. It’s imperative that our own young professionals become more involved in advancing the community, so we’re delighted that so many of them are participating. We need their ideas and energy to propel Wichita to the next level so we can retain the talent that’s been grown and nurtured here.”

The Chamber started sponsoring City-to-City visits annually in 2006, as a way to learn best practices from communities that have revitalized their downtown areas, successfully grown their own local companies, and attracted new talent. The purpose of each trip is to align, mobilize, and advance Wichita.

The group will be using #ICT2Austin to post comments and photos.