The Innovative City: 2014 National Meeting Recap

National Meeting Overview

On November 4 – 6, 2014, urban leaders gathered in Nashville to share the smartest ideas, toughest challenges and real-life strategies for creating an innovative city. We came, we saw, we connected. The workshop did more than use Nashville as a conversational backdrop; the city is the physical backdrop for the projects, programs and people we met, building Nashville, every day. It was a packed few days, but the action shouldn’t stop there.

Whether you were a participant with follow-up to do, want to relive every moment or couldn’t attend and need to see what you missed, CEOs for Cities has packaged the play-by-play (complete with names, profiles, links and more) for The Nashville National Meeting.

Who was there?

More than 450 game-changers and changemakers came to Nashville from 40+ cities. Zoom into the map for more detail, click on the plots to see who came from where. Want to get in touch? Check out the full list of attendees.

What did we do?

The 2014 National Meeting began with a night at The Grand Ole Opry in the historic Ryman Auditorium.

We woke up early on Wednesday, November 5, to hear Mayor Karl Dean tell the Nashville Story. He was followed by Governor Bill Haslam, who told the Tennessee Story. Hometown boy and contributing editor to Time Jon Meacham provided the morning keynote. Then it was off to tour Nashville! During lunch, Vishaan Chakrabarti, author of A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for Urban America provided the keynote address. Following lunch, we held a conversation about designing a healthy city, heard from Kansas City Mayor Sly James about how to create a more digitally inclusive city, and talked in depth about building an innovative, inclusive economy. The evening finished with a reception overlooking the excitement of the Country Music Awards.

Thursday, November 6, started with a keynote by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. Mayor Fischer was followed by a panel discussion on how to measure, benchmark and monitor city progress. Next up, mayors from across the country participated in a PechaKucha-style lightning round, telling stories of successes and challenges in their cities. We then got the inside scoop on Nashville’s Music Story. We finished the day with a conversation about place branding and creating a competitive identity.

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Nashville Walking Tours

National Meeting participants explored Nashville during the conference with a set of seven concurrent walking tours on Wednesday, Nov. 5. Here’s where they went:

Tour 1: The Nashville Entrepreneur Center

Led by Sam Lingo, COO, Nashville Entrepreneur Center
Tour the Nashville Entrepreneur Center (EC), and learn about the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and dynamic entrepreneurial economy. The EC became the front door for entrepreneurs looking to create companies in Nashville in 2010. Its permanent campus is housed at the historic Rolling Mill Hill Trolley Barns (41 Peabody Street), a creative mixed-use campus. The EC has resources to help any entrepreneur starting a business. Although it does seek to connect companies directly to capital and works with companies throughout the EC Incubator Program in four key sectors: Health Care, Technology, Digital Media and Entertainment, and Social Enterprise.

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Tour 2: A Tour and a Conversation with the Center for Nonprofit Management and Hands On Nashville

Led by Lewis Lavine, President, Center for Nonprofit Management, and Brian Williams, President, Hands on Nashville (Case study 2010 Flood)
Learn how Nashville’s caring, engaged community is fostered by Nashville’s nonprofit community and a culture of volunteer service at the historic Rolling Mill Hill Trolley Barns (37 Peabody Street, Suite 201) a creative mixed-use campus. Since 1986, the Center for Nonprofit Management has been a home to Middle Tennessee’s nonprofit leaders with a mission to create and sustain nonprofit excellence. CNM’s vision is to build better communities through extraordinary nonprofit services. For more than 20 years Hands On Nashville’s mission has been to meet community needs through volunteerism, connecting volunteers to critical issues – such as hunger, homelessness, and the environment. Today, Hands On Nashville is one of the largest volunteer resource centers in the world. More than 300 volunteer opportunities are offered each month via partnership with nonprofits.

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Tour 3: Rolling Mill Hill — Attracting and Retaining the Creative Class

Led by Jennifer Gilligan Cole, Executive Director, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, and Joe Cain, Director, Urban Development, Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency
Tour the Ryman Lofts located in a burgeoning live-work community located in downtown Nashville’s SoBro district. Rolling Mill Hill’s residences include apartments in restored Victorian and Art Deco buildings as well as two modern structures, all offering Nashville’s young professional population with affordable options in a dynamic urban setting. Residents and tenants enjoy central locality, access to public transportation, and a connection to Nashville’s greenway system. The Ryman Lofts offers the city’s creative class – including visual artists, writers, and musicians – affordable, income-based rental apartments, and studio space. To live and work at Rolling Mill Hill is to thrive within a culture of creativity and collaboration – and to exhibit a shared commitment to environmental stewardship and historic preservation.

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Tour 4: Casa Azafrán — Welcoming and Engaging New Americans

Led by Renata Soto, President, Conexión Américas; and Tasneem Tewagbola, Arts and Cultural Engagement Director, Conexión Américas; Remziya Suleyman, Director of Policy & Administration, American Center for Outreach; Stephanie Teatro, Director of Advocacy, TN Immigrant and Refugee Rights; and Shanna Hughey, Director, Mayor’s Office of New Americans
Casa Azafrán stands at the gateway to Nashville’s most international and socially diverse district. It’s home to a collection of nonprofits that offer education, legal support, health care and the arts to immigrants, refugees and the community as a whole. Learn how Conexión Américas helps Latino families realize their aspirations for social and economic advancement by promoting their integration into all aspects of life in Middle Tennessee. Hear how The American Center for Outreach, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and the Mayor’s Office of New Americans welcome and support Nashville’s growing new American communities.

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Tour 5: Nashville’s Riverfront Renaissance

Led by Chris Koster, Special projects manager, Riverfront Development, Metro Parks and Recreation; David Powell, Principal, Hastings Architecture Associates; and Mekayle Houghton, Executive Director, Cumberland River Compact
Take a walking tour across the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge to the Bridge Building to experience Nashville’s riverfront renaissance. The John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, formerly the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge, was built from 1907-09 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It connects downtown Nashville to the East bank of the Cumberland River. The Bridge Building site of a former barge construction company, is a historical landmark and was recently renovated and is certified LEED platinum. Experience and learn about the New Riverfront improvements that are designed to provide new public attractions, parkland and waterfront access, giving residents and visitors a reason to enjoy both banks of the Cumberland River. Public features completed and in process include fountains, spraygrounds, boardwalks, overlooks, piers, performance spaces, wetlands, plazas, new docking facilities, increased bikeways, and open play space.

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Tour 6: The Branding of Nashville and How the Music City Center Manifests the Nashville Brand

Led by Seab Tuck, Principal, Tuck Hinton Architects, and Butch Spyridon, President + CEO, Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation
Tour the spectacular Music City Center, Nashville’s new LEED Gold Certified convention facility with 2.1 million square feet of space, 350,000 square feet of exhibition space, 45 solar panels, a green roof and a 60-piece art collection. Learn some of the strategies and secrets of how Nashville has built the Music City Brand into a globally recognized city and destination that represents all genres of music –from country to blues, rock, jazz, gospel to bluegrass and classical to songwriting.

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Tour 7: The Gulch, an Urban, Mixed-use Neighborhood in Downtown Nashville

Led by Dirk Melton, Development Director, MarketStreet Enterprises
The 60-acre Gulch was a bustling railroad yard with origins dating to before the Civil War. It fell in to neglect and blight following World War II until a private-sector urban revitalization initiative led by the Turner family took hold in the early 2000’s. The Gulch is governed by a privately controlled land-use plan, which is the only such designation in Nashville’s history. Today, The Gulch is a vibrant urban district and a popular destination for shopping, dining and entertainment due to MarketStreet Enterprise’s concentrated focus on the development of a single neighborhood. The Gulch was recognized as the first LEED Neighborhood Development certified green neighborhood in the southeastern United States. With this distinction, The Gulch has earned international recognition for excellence among the finest developments incorporating the principles of smart growth, urbanism and sustainability. Participants will board The Music City Circuit bus and travel the short distance to and from The Gulch from the Omni Hotel.

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