NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Talk about a business boom!

Tennessee recently marked 10 consecutive years of quarterly growth for new business formation. That information comes from a state business and economic indicators report released Thursday.

According to the state, there were more than 17,000 new entity filings in the fourth quarter of 2021, representing a 22 percent increase over the same quarter last year.

“I think what it says is that people have confidence and people see expanding opportunity,” Ralph Schulz, President and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce said.

It’s an opportunity Joseph Cole, founder of Culture Architecture and Design, saw, took hold of and never looked back.

“Starting an architecture firm in the middle of a recession doesn’t seem ideal, but luckily I was the member of the Entrepreneur Center,” Cole said. “Things are phenomenal.”

Well, that’s likely because Tennessee continues seeing strong economic gains with non-farm employment in Tennessee nearing pre-pandemic levels.

In Metro Nashville, things are looking even better.

“In December, we had more jobs than we had in February of 2020, so you’d say from a job recovery perspective we hit that number in December,” Schulz said.

Since Spring of 2020, the state has added 353,000 workers back to payrolls, however, there are still around 27,000 fewer workers in Tennessee than there were prior to the pandemic.

Our unemployment rate is sitting at 3.8 percent.

“I’ll tell you for the next five years our task is going to be less about attracting jobs and more about preparing the workforce for those jobs,” Shultz said. “We have more opportunity than challenges right now; we just must take advantage of it.”

And that’s exactly what Cole did.

“We’re excited about the continued growth of Nashville; we hope Nashville continues to be inclusive of all professionals and designers,” Cole said. “There are very few black-owned architecture firms; less than two percent of all licensed architects are black. So were looking for opportunity to continue to be included and involved in not only smaller private projects, but larger projects being driven by the city.”

It all comes down to working together, working smarter and harder.

“The bottom line on it is we’ve got to find ways to get peoples skills matched to the jobs being created so more of the work force can be in those higher paying jobs,” Schulz said.

State employment forecasts are in the green; the confidence is there and the opportunity is great.