By MATT BLOIS
Market research about the county’s economic prospects will now be available online through the Williamson County chamber of commerce.
Williamson Inc. will present the research on Wednesday morning at Outlook Williamson, the chamber’s annual economic summit.
More than 400 people have already registered for Outlook Williamson, but participants still can register on the day of the event.
Outlook Williamson will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Liberty Hall in the Factory at Franklin. The event costs $85 for chamber members and $100 for non-members.
The new research includes insights about demographics, real estate, workforce characteristics and quality of life.
Williamson Inc. gathered data from professional associations, research firms as well as federal, state and local governments. The chamber plans to update the website as it gathers new market research.
The chamber reports that businesses hoping to grow should have plenty of options in Williamson County. Brentwood and Franklin have about 1.5 million square feet of vacant commercial real estate, and the county has about an 11 percent vacancy rate for commercial real estate.
The research shows that while the cost of housing is creeping up, the Nashville area still has a low cost of living compared to other large cities like Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco.
In fact, many Williamson County residents come from those types of cities. Los Angeles, Phoenix and Chicago were the cities with the highest number of people migrating to Williamson County. About 58 percent of Williamson County residents were born outside of Tennessee.
About 28,000 people from Williamson County commute to Nashville every day for work, and about 27,000 people from Nashville commute to Williamson County.
In addition to the market research, the chamber also plans to present the results from a March 2019 survey about the business climate in Williamson County. That survey covers how business in Williamson County perceive the economic environment.
The Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization predicts that Williamson County’s population will grow by more than 140 percent between 2006 and 2035. The number of jobs in Williamson County is expected to grow even faster.
That kind of rapid growth presents the county with lots of opportunities, but also challenges. The summit includes three sessions about how the county can make the most of its opportunities and overcome the challenges associated with growth.
Doug Kreulen, the CEO of the Nashville Airport Authority, is scheduled to talk about opportunities with rapid growth.
Jam Stewart, vice president of corporate affairs with Mars Petcare, will talk about why Williamson County is a good bet for businesses.
The event will also include a panel with three local real estate developers. Williamson Inc.’s Chief Economic Development Officer Elizabeth McCreary will moderate a discussion with SouthStar president Glenn McGehee, Boyle Investment partner Thomas McDaniel and MarketStreet Enterprises Development Director Dirk Melton.
“We’ll be able to give some insight into the trends we see in the market … and how those trends are influencing the type of development we’re doing,” McGehee said. “The big question in everybody’s mind is what’s happened in the urban core of downtown Nashville, versus the suburbs like Franklin or Brentwood. How do they vary and how are they the same? What does that type of development look like?”
McGehee said recently developers in Williamson County are focusing on building mixed use areas that have housing, retail and office spaces.
McGehee’s company SouthStar recently announced plans to build a large mixed use project in Cool Springs called Aureum. Melton’s company MarketStreet Enterprises announced plans to transform a large office building an accompanying property in Cool Springs into a mixed use development.