In September of 2016, I had the pleasure of beginning a year long journey with thirty-seven other classmates in the 2017 Leadership Middle Tennessee class. Leadership Middle Tennessee is a regional leadership program founded in 1999 as an initiative of Partnership 2010. Diverse leaders from business, education, government, and non-profits participate in the program from across the ten counties in Middle Tennessee including Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Maury, Montgomery, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, and Wilson. I thought it would be interesting and fun to take all of the readers of my blog along for the ride over the next twelve months. So, off we go!
The mission of Leadership Middle Tennessee is to inspire leaders to action by providing a forum for regional networking, collaboration, strategic thinking, and action learning. Leadership Middle Tennessee is committed to developing regional leaders who can contribute to long-term solutions that sustain and balance the quality of life and economic growth for our collective unique communities. Leadership Middle Tennessee now has over 430 alumni in the Middle Tennessee region, and in one year I will be extremely proud to call myself one of them.
At our Class of 2017 Kick Off meeting, the class received an overview of the program and of the issues facing the Middle Tennessee region. Nashville is a huge part of the Middle Tennessee region, and it’s economy is driven by healthcare, hospitality and tourism, Tennessee state government, and the auto industry, among other industries. Diversity is key to future success of this region. Another key is strong public schools. Businesses need to help to improve the status and rank of public schools, because the quality of public education has a direct effect on the ability of the region to attract and recruit businesses and high quality, high paying jobs. Being pro-public education is being pro-business. Company owners and executives want to know that their employees’ children can attend good public schools if their company’s relocate or start a business in Middle Tennessee.
Other issues that were addressed included: infrastructure, education and talent, tax base, services, the need for clean water, the cost of daycare, mass transit, affordable housing, the topography of the area, and diversity of the population. Regarding diversity, it is important to remember that many people are moving to the Middle Tennessee area from out of state and even from other countries. The population in this region is not only getting more diverse, but it is progressively getting younger.
As Middle Tennessee continues to grow and attract more industry and corporate headquarters, the need continues to rise for an educated, qualified workforce. More workers with high school diplomas, technical training, or college/post-graduate degrees are needed to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow. Governor Haslam and his administration is promoting a strong education agenda. TN Reconnect was established to get older citizens to go back to school. TN Promise/TN Achieves is pushing high school graduates to attend either two year colleges or TCAT programs and is helping them do it tuition free. The Drive to 55 is another initiative to get more of the state of Tennessee’s population educated and trained so that they will be able to take on the jobs of today’s economy.
I am looking forward to all that I will learn over the next eleven months, and I sincerely hope you are too. I will try to share the lessons I learn each month with you as our class travels from county to county across the ten county Middle Tennessee region. I will post a blog after each visit to the different counties. Be sure to watch for your county, and feel free to comment or provide any additional information to me that you feel I need to know about your county. I know that all of you are just as proud of your county as I am of Sumner County! Maybe I’ll see some of you out on the road over the next year! I hope so!