Collaborative Action for Quality Growth
Cumberland Region Tomorrow brings people together to address regional challenges and opportunities we face with the future growth and development of Middle Tennessee. Our mission is to foster communication, collaboration and action as we help plan for the long-term livability, economic vitality and sustainability of this place we call home.
CRT is a collaborative regional partnership that works at the local, regional, state and national levels to:
- Convene regional leadership on shared issues of regional importance;
- Address our regional issue of land use and Quality Growth through CRT’s Quality Growth tools, resources, and services; and
- Create Tennessee’s first Sustainable Communities Network through our regional, state, and national partnerships.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and Commissioner of Transportation John Schroer has recently received attention and recognition for the department’s innovative practices and efforts to become one of the country’s premier DOTS.
Included in Smart Growth America‘s recently released third edition of The Innovative DOT: A handbook of policy and practice, TDOT has been praised for efforts to interact and communicate with local communities in order to improve the planning process and create better project outcomes. Specifically, TDOT is recognized for assistance and resources provided to communities working on comprehensive plans that lead to strategic transportation investments.
Co-authored by Smart Growth America and the State Smart Transportation Initiative, The Innovative DOT documents many of the innovative approaches state leaders are using to make systems more efficient, government more effective and constituents better satisfied. Click here for more information on The Innovative DOT or to download the handbook.
Commissioner Schroer recently sat down with Smart Growth America to discuss leadership within TDOT and his views on effective outreach while working within communities to progress planning efforts. Along with SGA, the Strong Towns Blog highlighted Commission Schroer in a recent blog post. Watch the video below to see what the Commissioner has to say.
Cheatham County sits just west from Nashville and is rich in scenic beauty and blessed with numerous natural and cultural resources. The county has maintained it’s essentially rural character to this day, and boasts a relatively small population of about 40,000 people.
Due to its rural setting, small population, and lack of large employers, Cheatham County faces unique economic challenges. The county has the highest external commuting rate in the state of Tennessee, at 82.5%, with only 3,300 of the approximately 21,000 skilled workers in Cheatham County employed within the county. The county’s low daytime population puts economic stress on businesses and restaurants: Cheatham County has the highest retail leakage rate of any county in Tennessee, with a current rate of 68%.
Seeking to generate more economic development opportunities, local business leaders funded and launched Cheatham Vision in 2010 with the intent to improve Cheatham County’s economy and overall quality of life. Later that year, Cheatham Vision released Open for Business, a three-year economic, business, and workforce development strategy. One of the specific strategies outlined in the plan was to identify, develop, and market Cheatham County’s outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational assets. By developing the county’s tourism industry and targeting specific new businesses, the community hoped to create local jobs and new business development opportunities. In addition, new tourist spending would boost revenues at local businesses such as restaurants, service stations, shops, and lodging. Increased sales taxes would help schools and public services while reducing the need for property tax increases.
In early 2012, the Cheatham County Chamber of Commerce formed a partnership with Cumberland Region Tomorrow (CRT) and with their assistance secured a Rural Business Enterprise Grant through the Tennessee Rural Development Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The RBEG grant provided funding to inventory, access, and document all existing and potential tourism and recreation resources in Cheatham County and to develop a Sustainable Tourism Plan.
Led by the Chamber of Commerce, CRT worked with Pawpaw Partners, a Nashville-based natural and cultural resource planning firm, and other business leaders to look at each of the county’s four incorporated communities and determine recommendations for place-specific marketing strategies. Ashland City would be promoted as a recreational center, Kingston Springs for its historic character, and Pleasant View for its agricultural heritage. Pegram, just west of the Bellevue section of Nashville, would be marketed as a center for local crafts and music.
The Cheatham County Sustainable Tourism Plan was completed in the winter of 2013, and provides Chamber and Economic Development leaders with new marketing tools for the Vision Cheatham Tourism Cluster, along with new watchable wildlife and motorcycle tours, enhanced ecotourism, and a new arts initiative. Possibilities also include the county’s first high-end hotel, incubator spaces for artists, outdoor outfitters, and agritourism resources. Thousands of new visitors will soon discover this quiet county on Nashville’s urban edge and support local economic and community development objectives thanks to innovative planning and marketing strategies completed through this first ever Tennessee project.
CRT was contracted to provide consulting services to complete needed resource assessment, technical analysis, perform gap business and incentive analysis, coordinate community engagement, and generate the final deliverable: the Sustainable Tourism Strategy. In addition, CRT agreed to coordinate with state-level Rural Economic Development partner agencies including the Tennessee Departments of Agriculture, Tourist Development, Wildlife Resources, and Economic and Community Development to ensure that Cheatham County objectives aligned with state objectives and incentives to ensure successful implementation.
The document may be viewed by clicking on the chapter links below:
- Preface and Introduction
- Enhancing Cheatham County Economies through Tourism
- Welcome to Cheatham County
- General Tourism Resources
- Recommendations for Development of Existing Resources
- Boosting Tourism with Arts and Crafts
- Growing Visitation through Agritourism
- Business Analysis and Targeted Economic Stategy
- Community Development Implementation
- Resource Inventory
The City of Franklin, TN is one of 14 communities that will receive a free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America in 2015.
Franklin’s efforts to make its downtown a more walkable and attractive destination have helped secure national recognition and expertise to assist with the city’s future planning and development efforts.
Last week Smart Growth Americaannounced recipients of the organization’s 2015 free technical assistance program. Franklin is one of 14 communities that has been selected from over 120 applications to receive the technical assistance from SGA.
“This award is a testament to the hard work Franklin has already done,” said Roger Millar, Vice President of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute. “Our program was more competitive this year than ever before, and Franklin stood out as a community doing great work. We’re excited to be able to help City staff continue on to the next stage of this work.”
Over a one or two-day workshop, Franklin and the other selected communitites will develop a better understanding of quality growth and development and the technical aspects involved in building a smart growth strategy and implementation. According to the Franklin press release, Franklin will receive hands-on assistance from national experts on Smart Growth Principles. The City of Franklin will use the technical assistance and expertise to advance their successful economic and community redevelopment efforts.
East Tennessee was also well represented with the City of Knoxville and the Knoxville Regional Transportation Organization (TPO) each being selected for the program. According to the Knoxville press release, Knoxville will use their workshop to strategically think through options for pursuing transit-oriented development. The Knoxville TPO and the PlanET region will use their workshop to provide technical assistance on small town zoning updates that support smart growth development outcomes.
Previous participants in this program include Chattanooga (2013) and Memphis (2014). With a large baby boomer population, Chattanooga chose to focus technical assistance on creating great places and supportive neighborhood design for people wanting to age in place. Click here for more information on Chattanooga’s use of smart growth assistance. In order to help implement a new Complete Streets policy passed by the City in 2013, Memphis focused workshops on providing the City with tools to communicate and address design elements of the new Complete Streets policy. Click here for more information on Memphis’ use of Smart Growth technical assistance.
Funding for this program is made available to SGA through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities under their Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. The Building Blocks program provides quick, targeted assistance to communities facing common development programs. Through the program, SGA has already provided free technical assistance to over 50 communities across the United States. Click here to see a complete list of communities and view presentations and reports from previous workshops.
CRT will continue to send updates on this and other national technical assistance opportunities for communties in our region. Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement on a national rural economic development workshop for Cheatham County that CRT will be a part of.