-Mark Drury, Senior Director
Governor Bill Haslam gave his annual talk to members of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, 2/1 and coming just three days after his State of the State address to the General Assembly, the themes of job growth and improvement in education carried over.
But, the Governor has made a habit of addressing Nashville business leaders without prepared remarks and to his credit, these off-the-cuff comments followed by questions from the audience are perhaps his most effective format. But it was an anecdote he shared with the audience that made a lasting impression.
It came following his comments about the IMPROVE Act, a measure approved by the legislature last year which outlined taxes local governments could raise for mass transit. The law enables public referendums on the issue and Nashvillians will likely vote on Mayor Megan Barry’s $5.4 million Let’s Move Nashville plan in May.
“I was at a dinner at the White House,” said Governor Haslam. “There were cabinet secretaries, members of Congress and a few Supreme Court justices there and everybody wanted to know what’s the deal with Nashville? How did it develop such momentum?”
Later, Haslam came back to those remarks when asked by an audience member if he sees anything on the horizon that could derail Nashville’s economic growth.
“I’d say education and transportation,” he said. “Now, I’m not saying whether the current transportation plan is the right one to address Nashville’s traffic, the voters will do that, but there are a lot of people with their shoulder to the wheel, trying to improve education. We need to do the same with transportation.”
The first step in solving a problem is recognizing there is one.