NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The springboard for Middle Tennessee becoming one of America’s most dynamic centers for growth began around 2010, when the area took a major step toward evolving into a welcoming place for companies to expand their operations.

“It’s hard to pick an exact date when Nashville took off,” recalled former Mayor Karl Dean. But, on January 22, 2009, Nashvillians made a decision to position the city for both national and international growth.

The English referendum, a proposal that would have required Metro government to do business in just one language, failed.

“That was a major positive statement by the people of Nashville that we were going to be a city by the future,” Dean said.

A year later, many believed the city was well on its way.

“Somewhere around 2010 is when all of the sudden I said, ‘there’s interesting things happening here.’ As far as places to eat, you know, the arts started to explode outside of country music, especially in like East Nashville. Prominent artists that aren’t country artists started coming here, and Nashville started feeling like the coolest place,” said Jeff Checko with Ashton Real Estate Group RE/MAX Advantages.

A cool place soon backed by businesses.

“The rest of the country was still reeling from the Great Recession,” said Butch Spyridon, CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp .”We had a flood and a recession. And I think as the city rallied to come together. We invested in ourselves when literally nobody was doing any major projects. That shined a spotlight on the city nationally of our own confidence and our own future.”

Dean added, “The investment we made in the [Music City] convention center was really an affirmation of the belief that Nashville could be a much more successful city economically. It could attract a lot more business and visitors.”

It did. According to the Nashville Area Economic Guide of 2010, 102 companies announced an expansion or relocations plans, creating more than 7,000 jobs and $.196 billion in capitol investments.

“I think in 2010, in that time, you saw a more re-intensified effort to attract business here,” remembered Dean.

With booming businesses, an expanding workforce, and strong economy, Nissan, Bridgestone, HCA and Dell — all outside influences — had a strong impact on Nashville’s growth.

“You can’t discount what’s happened in the last 10 years from international investments,” said Checko.

Since the early 2000s, more than 340 internationally owned companies have relocated or expanded in Middle Tennessee, creating more than 57,000 jobs.

“International companies investing in Nashville were that launch to this long-term success,” said Spyridon.

As we remember our past, we must prepare for our future,” Dean said, “Nashville’s best days are still to come.”

Nashville’s explosive growth and rising real estate prices are due in part to outside influence. News 2 shows you how investors from around the world are shaping the area with our special reports Outside Influence.