Metro Nashville opts to keep door open for economic development incentives

Council members argued the city should be open to deals that could bring jobs to the area. (Screenshot via Metro Nashville)
Council members argued the city should be open to deals that could bring jobs to the area. (Screenshot via Metro Nashville)

Council members argued the city should be open to deals that could bring jobs to the area. (Screenshot via Metro Nashville)

Metro Nashville Council voted 20-14 against a resolution May 19 that would haveput a one-year pause on any city economic development incentives as officials work to balance the fiscal year 2020-21 budget.

Sponsors for the resolution said it was intended to prevent the city from making any deals that might not bring enough benefits for the city.

“With the current budget constraints that the city is experiencing, there’s a lot of conversation around incentives that the city has given out to corporations in the past that we as a body have not been able to provide any clear indication of what the benefit has been of those incentive,” said District 2 Council Member Kyonzté Toombs, who sponsored the bill. “We don’t have any metrics in place to determine when a deal is a good deal for the city, and so this resolution is saying that we’re going to put a one-year pause on economic incentives so that we can put some metrics in place so we can really make informed decisions as to what deals are good deals for the city.”

The resolution would not have banned economic incentives permanently and also included exceptions related to affordable housing, Toombs said.

While some council members argued it would be beneficial to have more data on incentive deals to determine if the deal is worth the money paid, others said the city should not close the door on any deals that could bring more jobs to the area at a time when many residents are experiencing unemployment.


“Our residents are going to be helped the best by getting back to work,” District 19 Council Member Freddie O’Connell said. “So if there is an opportunity that comes to bring good jobs to people in our community, I believe that’s beneficial to our neighbors. Some of our neighbors may need retraining. We’re looking in our city not only at struggling to fund [Metro Nashville Public Schools]; we’re struggling to fund Opportunity Now, which brings our young people jobs. We’re struggling to fund community education.”
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.