RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s rare to find a place where the population is rapidly growing and so are the jobs. That’s the case in Rutherford County as people continue to move in and big businesses set up shop next door.
“Tennessee’s new bird is the crane, we see many cranes here in Rutherford County, not as many in Nashville, but we still see lots of growth,” said Beth Duffield, Senior V.P. of Workforce Development with the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.
Compared to Nashville’s 100 new residents a day, Rutherford County makes room for about 23, according to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.
“If you look around at the traffic, you can tell that more people are moving here because it seems to take longer and longer to get from point A to point B,” said Rutherford County Commissioner Robert Stevens. “Murfreesboro is booming, Smyrna’s growing, La Vergne is booming.”
Duffield added that those who are choosing to move to Rutherford County, “are a different demographic than those who move to Nashville.”
“I think we’re seeing families who really want that quality of life and opportunity,” she said.
Ten years ago, Medical Center Parkway in Murfreesboro was pretty scarce, but with the expansion of St. Thomas Rutherford, came more businesses, housing, and people.
“One of the things that really sets Rutherford County apart in this dynamic growing market of Middle Tennessee is that we have the lowest cost of living in the 13-county area,” Duffield explained.
According to the American Job Center in Rutherford County, those who are moving to the area have higher educations and job skills than in years past.
Already home to big private sector companies such as Nissan, which employs 8,500 people alone, Rutherford County is consistently attracting more business.
i3 Verticals is one of the county’s newest businesses, now located at the Fountains in Murfreesboro.
“Rutherford County has a very stable, mature and educated workforce, and an opportunity of lots of new talent coming out and so it made a lot of sense for us as a company to commit to that area as a place we wanted to grow,” explained Scott Meriwhether, V.P. of Finance for i3 Verticals.
The county’s biggest growing industries include IT manufacturing, supply chain, construction, and healthcare. But even with all the growth and attention, there are still more than 4,000 open jobs.
“You’ve got to remember, a lot of people live here but work in Nashville,” Stevens explained, “So just because we’re moving 20 to 25 people here a day doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all looking for a job here.”
“One of the challenges we have with filling those 4,000 jobs is that Tennessee actually has one of the lowest labor participation rates in the country,” Duffield added.
The county’s trying to connect employers with schools to help filter students right onto the work site.
“You know just because you’ve got a college degree in whatever major or whatever minor doesn’t mean you have the skills that a Bridgestone or a Nissan needs to run their robotics program,” Stevens said. “So, there’s job openings with these special skills, and that’s where we’re trying to meet with our graduates and our open jobs.”
For example, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology’s Nissan Training Center and the mechatronics programs.
“We’ve got the only place in the country that I know of where you can get level 1, 2, and 3 of the Siemen’s to do mechatronics,” Stevens explained, “You can do the first part in high school, you can do the second at Motlow, and the third at MTSU.”
The chamber is also encouraging companies to step outside their comfort zones by hiring out of jail and young.
“A lot of the challenges around hiring high school students, 17 year olds, revolve around corporate policy more than law,” Duffield said, “Ingram Content is a company locally who hired about 30 high school students from Smyrna, La Vergne, and Stewarts Creek to help them meet their peak demand. At the end of the holiday period, they still had 28 of the 30 students working. They were on time, they were courteous, they communicated well, and the plant manager said if they did not have those students involved, they would not have met their quotas for the peak.”
“We do need to continue training and filling those gaps so that people who graduate from high schools and graduate from our colleges can go work for these industries for these good high paying jobs that are being created,” Stevens said.
To help connect employers with residents, the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce is hosting its first hiring expo this summer. They hope to have 120 businesses there.
The event is August 29 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro located at 1200 Conference Center Blvd. Click here for more information.
News 2 is digging deeper into the region’s evolving job climate and the opportunities that are coming. Our teams have special reports from Nashville, Clarksville and Murfreesboro as we profile “Nashville 2019: Now Hiring” in every newscast Thursday. We will also have a live town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m.
News 2 is reporting on Nashville’s historic growth and the growing pains that come with it. Click here for more Nashville 2019 reports.