November 22, 2016

Nashville Business Journal
by Meg Garner

Some of Nashville’s biggest and most influential business names are backing plans for a $6 billion transit overhaul, but it turns out there’s a limit to their connections.

Bill Nigh, regional CEO of Bank of Nashville, serves on the public engagement committee of Moving Forward, a Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce-funded coalition. He said the committee has not been as successful as they originally hoped at reaching out to people outside the business community. Nigh noted that this is problematic since those people are largely the ones using the city’s existing transit system.

“We probably don’t know how to reach out to the maids in the hotels,” Nigh said. “We really want to, but we haven’t been able to do it yet.”

Nigh said connecting with those not in the city’s business circles is important because it will ultimately take the area as a whole to fund the $6 billion plan, which includes extending operating hours, expanding services and adding light rail.

Earlier this month, the Moving Forward finance committee revealed the results of a study conducted by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute to figure out the best possible paths for funding the region’s nMotion plan. The seven options included everything from direct taxes on residents to fees that impact the area’s growing tourism industry.

And while the committee is hoping to increase its engagement with those not running the city’s top industries, Nigh said having the backing of those in some of Nashville’s most prominent offices is also critical to moving the plan forward. Nigh said the selling point the committee tries to make to local business leaders is that having a sustainable and well-planned transit system will improve the health of the community, which will typically impact the success of the region’s businesses.