In Mayor Karl Dean’s final State of Metro address, he said "I don't apologize" for focusing on downtown redevelopment. The mayor framed his signature project—and the most expensive in city history—as an economic stimulus.
Because of the $600 million Music City Center, hotels like the Omni built nearby. Because of the Omni, the Country Music Hall of Fame doubled in size. Because of its expansion, the hall of fame shattered attendance records and brought nearly a million people downtown in 2014. And Dean said it’s not just the institutions benefiting.
"The thing that makes me happy is the thought of all the people working, getting started in Nashville's hotels, in restaurants, in bars, in honky tonks, whenever Nashville hosts a big event. Those servers feel the energy and the reality of that economic growth when they look at their tips every night.”
By making one big investment, Dean said the city created many more. He also pointed out that so far, the tourist taxes created to pay for the convention center are generating a surplus.
As part of the annual address, Dean also released a budget and construction plan. They reflect the city’s evolving priorities.
Dean said the city has an obligation to the increasing number of immigrants who are moving to Middle Tennessee.
“When an individual who uproots his or her family to come to the United States and make Nashville their home, that is the highest compliment anyone can pay to us.”
Dean’s budget would fund the establishment of a “Newcomers School.” In other cities, these offer special tutoring for English language learners.
The mayor’s final budget also includes a big increase for sidewalk construction, more money to extend library hours and $2 million to help Nashville State build a pair of satellite campuses.