Chamber of Commerce: International industry is key to Nashville’s success

Special Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nashville has what every city wants — a booming economy, growth, new jobs, new businesses and new events to attract even more tourists.

What Nashville also has is somewhat hidden — a huge, international piece of the growth puzzle.

Some of those companies operating in Nashville include Bridgestone, Nissan, LG and some of the countries represented are Japan, the United Kingdom and South Korea.

Lori Odom with the Nashville Chamber’s international business division explained the draw for foreign investors.

“Nashville has around 333 companies and employs about 52,000 people through foreign direct investment,” said Odom.

Since 1998, the Nashville Chamber of Commerce has had an internationally-focused economic development position.

“Every year we see about 20% of our new jobs that are created annually are through foreign direct investors so the parent company is in another country and the are looking to locate into the Nashville region,” said Odom.

Tennessee and Nashville have been on the leading edge of foreign investment since Nissan built an assembly plant in Smyrna in the 30 plus years ago.

Odom points to smart political leadership saying, “we’ve had a long history of Tennessee governors of Tennessee Mayors that really understand the value of foreign direct investment and they really the impact and the job creation numbers.”

Odom said the international business community has taken note of Nashville’s successes.

“Things that make the national news, the Amazon announcement, the B.A. flight, Phillips announcing that they are here, Alliance Bernstein moving their headquarters here, you know those things get noticed not only nationally but internationally and it puts us on a different list and helps us just compete,” said Odom.

And importantly, Odom said there is a mix of manufacturing investment and white-collar investment opportunities.

“I think really one of the coolest stories about Nashville is when we see a Hankook tires that comes in and they locate their manufacturing in Clarksville and they decide a couple years later they can put their north American headquarters in downtown Nashville so its a great mix of both that comes into the region,” said Odom.

Odom said foreign direct investment in Nashville will only grow in importance.

“I think you will continue to see that piece grow and continue to see it be a big part of our economy you know its not only the story of the foreign direct investment that is hear but the Nashville based companies that do businesses around the world,” said Odom.

Odom said the plus no other city has, is there is only one Nashville.

“Nashville is a great place to operate your business, its easy to connect to other cites and other markets. Just a dynamic place”

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