MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — Fast is a good word to describe Murfreesboro as it is the 8th fastest-growing mid-size city in the country and has the 8th fastest growing economy city overall, according to WalletHub. In 2014, voters elected the youngest mayor in the history of Murfreesboro, Shane McFarland.
McFarland came to Murfreesboro in 1992 to attend MTSU and didn’t want to leave.
“The population when I came here when I moved here in 92 was 42,000 people and now we are closer to 160,000. In 27 years, the city has almost quadrupled,” said McFarland.
Not that many years ago, Murfreesboro was this quiet, small town, home to a commuter college and historic Civil War battle fields. Today it is so much more.
The historic courthouse on Murfreesboro’s town square is part of the city’s past. Its future is booming with a growing community more than 160,000 people now call it home all dealing with the pros and cons of growth.
“We lead the state in job creation, we are one of the best places to live in the country in job creation,” said McFarland.
Those positives result in some negatives — more people results in more traffic congestion, more crime and a less affordable cost of living than before all that growth.
“Affordability is something that we are continuing trying to work on. It is a challenge, what I would say used to be a smaller house now is really turned into a townhome. I mean that is your starter home and that is something that in the last 10 years, our median house has gone from $148,000 to almost $220,000 now,” explained McFarland.
And more crime? Murfreesboro is keeping on top of the issue.
“Our police department has started the 9 o’clock campaign, you know ‘9 o’clock have you locked your doors?’ because really, most of the time when someone is breaking into a car they have not locked their doors. And I am guilty of that, of not locking my doors, so that is something we work on. I would tell you Murfreesboro as a whole is one of the safest communities you will live in,” said McFarland.
Still growth is not slowing down. Murfreesboro is home to an impressive growing north side, the Avenue mall, a new medical center complex, hotels and meeting rooms — all of which produce local jobs.
“My goal is I don’t want our residents to have to drive to Nashville. I want to have jobs for them to be able to say here and that something we will continually work on,” explained McFarland.
Murfreesboro is also home to MTSU, the largest state university and a big reason for a lot of the city’s success.
“It’s the most vital thing that we have as a city,” said McFarland.
MTSU brings with it world class programs in aerospace, drone technology, journalism, a one of a kind concrete program and so much more.
“We would be doing an injustice to our residents to not be able to partner with MTSU because as a small business owner, three of the people that work with me, they are all graduates of MTSU.
And what about congestion?
“I think transportation is our number 1 complaint. As a resident, you know people want to be able to get to a different area of the community as quick as they can,” said McFarland.
The mayor knows the need someday soon for a regional mass transit system.
“I don’t think we are going to be able to build our way out of a transportation issue because interstates 24, 65, 40, you can’t make those any bigger so I do think there is a mass transit idea to talk about,” said McFarland.
What’s happening in this Rutheford County seat is the sound of growth, the opportunity for new businesses and new residents calling Murfreesboro home.
“It’s a part-time job but it’s a big job as well. What is the best part of being mayor of this great city…… is the people,” said McFarland.
News 2 has special reports on “Murfreesboro: The Good, The Bad, The Future” on Thursday. We’re digging deeper into the impact of the area’s growth and how it is shaping future businesses, traffic, schools, and crime. See our special reports in every newscast and watch our live town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Click here for more.