Home to Arnold Engineering and Development Center, an hour south of Nashville and surrounded by tourist destinations such as Bonnaroo, Tim's Ford, and Old Stone Fort State Parks, Jack Daniel's and Cascade Hollow Distilleries, Tullahoma is centrally located and prime for economic growth unlike any time in our history. All of the dots are there waiting to be connected, but they will not attach themselves, it will take planning, leadership and an open and honest working relationship with the community and surrounding municipalities to realize our potential fully.
The end goal of unlocking this potential is creating good jobs. The creation of good jobs should be the primary focus of every leader in our modern world. We are in a constant competitive struggle not just with neighboring cities and towns, but now globally. When there are not enough good jobs, everything around us deteriorates. As our city loses good jobs to surrounding areas or businesses decide to move away or not move here, tax revenues decrease, our best and brightest move away, neighborhoods deteriorate, our education system suffers, and an overall downward spiral occurs. As a city, we have to make ourselves business friendly.
"...we must be ready to give businesses access to the city services they need and ensure that we are not taxing them away."
Good jobs are the horse that pulls the cart. When you have good jobs in the community, everything else follows. To provide good jobs, we must be ready to give businesses access to the city services they need and ensure that we are not taxing them away. Rising property taxes at the city or county level make it unaffordable for both small and large businesses to compete when centered in our city. Establishing and maintaining a positive working relationship with our county government and surrounding municipalities is critical to achieving this. Both old and new companies are looking for a place to call home, we can be that home if we choose not to drive them away.
Our city has placed a focus on retail, restaurant, and other part-time jobs. We all know that these types of employment cannot sustain a household or promote a thriving economy. I use the term "good jobs" to describe a job where you work at least thirty hours per week, are paid with a paycheck from a registered company who provides competitive pay. These are the types of jobs that are needed and necessary for real economic growth. We have to start thinking a little bit bigger. Tullahoma is a gigabit city; we have an airport, AEDC is home to some of the world's leading technology engineers, we are an hour from Nashville and Huntsville. These services and infrastructure put us in a unique position to go after companies who will bring real jobs and to position ourselves, our city as a regional or even statewide economic growth center.
"...your voice matters, and it is essential that it is heard not just at election time."
We have to gain a better understanding of where we want to go, how we are going to get there, and how we measure success. As the Technology Lead for NXTBoard, I get to work with the boards of cities, school districts, nonprofits, and for-profit companies across the nation. Our focus is connecting the "how" processes of a board with the "what" and "why" — mission, vision, strategic plans, goals, progress measures, constraints, evidence, reporting, and governance models that drive results. Elected officials and constituents alike should at all times know what mission we are striving to achieve, what our vision for success is and be able to see a roadmap of how we are going to achieve our goals. My work in this area and experience with governments across the nation give me valuable insight into what does and does not work.
Finally, we have to give the local government back to the citizens of Tullahoma. I will hold bi-weekly face-to-face conversations that will allow the citizens of Tullahoma to voice their opinion on significant issues your voice matters, and it is essential that it is heard not just at election time. Efforts will be made to inform the citizens of all the incredible services the City of Tullahoma has to offer and how to take advantage of them. The community should not have to struggle to find much-needed answers and information, nor should they ever feel as though they are not adequately represented.