April 5, 2017

The Tennessean
by Elaina Sauber

Williamson County’s reputation as an economic powerhouse is nothing new, but if you’re one of over 300 people registered for Outlook Williamson on Tuesday, you should know a few things to put the county’s continued growth into perspective.

Hosted by Williamson, Inc., the county’s chamber of commerce, Outlook Williamson will show attendees firsthand how the chamber “sells” the county to site consultants and companies looking to relocate their headquarters. The figures below, provided by the chamber, also may shed some light on what makes Williamson County an attractive place to do business.

Williamson, Inc.’s 2017 Trends Report also will be released during the summit.

Job growth: The numbers don’t lie

In 2016, 1,862 new business licenses were filed in the county. That includes new businesses that opened as well as those renewing or updating their business license.
The most recent data available from September 2015 through September 2016 indicates a 6.7 percent job growth rate in Williamson County. The national average is 1.5 percent. During that time, 7,951 new jobs were added in the county.
Williamson County had the fastest-growing job market in the nation for four straight quarters in between 2015 and 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It also had the lowest unemployment rate in Tennessee, at 3.4 percent.

Who’s living there?

Fifty-six percent of Williamson County residents over 25 years old have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 25 percent for Tennessee and 29 percent nationwide.
Between 2010 and 2014, more than 7,150 people moved to Williamson County. Sixty percent of Williamson County residents were not born in Tennessee.
What’s next for Williamson County?

The Tennessean asked Williamson, Inc. CEO and President Matt Largen what’s next for the county as the two largest cities, Franklin and Brentwood, grow closer to being built out. Largen said while people may think Franklin and the Cool Springs area are completely developed, that’s not the case.

“There is anywhere between maybe 10 to 20 years left of office space that could go in Franklin. Ovation (and) Berry Farms are two examples of pretty sizable developments that could absorb new companies moving to town or existing companies expanding,” Largen explained. He said there are several million more square feet of office space that hasn’t yet been developed in Franklin.

In the next several years, he has some ideas about the direction of commercial growth in Williamson County — and it follows a familiar route.

“I think the next logical place for development that will happen is Spring Hill, down the I-65 corridor. Companies still want that interstate access, they want interstate visibility,” Largen said. He noted the 780-acre Alexander Farm in Spring Hill, which butts up against the interstate, could be a prime spot for mixed use in the future.

“I believe (it) could be Cool Springs version 3.0 at some point. It could be 10 years, it could be 25 years. … It all depends on what happens at a national level,” Largen said.

He thinks commercial office space will continue to be developed down the Interstate 65 corridor, while communities like Nolensville will continue to gain residents.

“Those communities will decide how they want to maintain their character while they grow, and we’ll be there to support that,” Largen said. “But I think from an office development standpoint, the I-65 corridor still makes the best sense.”