I am a Realtor here in Clarksville. And here is your answer: We are Ranked 10th in growth in the nation.
Janie Masterson, Realtor, GRI, CLHMS
Mobile: 931 801-3348 Email: email@example.com
Clarksville TN Ranks 10th in nation in growth
MARKETING A NEW IMAGE MAKEOVER GETS CREDIT FOR CLARKSVILLE, TN SUCCESS
More soldiers at Fort Campbell and a rising number of retirees moving a little closer to home have helped make Clarksville the nation's 10th-fastest-growing metropolitan area.
The four counties in Tennessee and Kentucky that surround Fort Campbell grew nearly 4 percent from 2006 to 2007 and have shown a steady population increase over the past seven years, according to U.S. Census figures released today.
The growth outpaced that of the Nashville metropolitan area, which includes the booming counties of Rutherford, Williamson, Wilson and Sumner. Nashville grew 2.34 percent, to rank 42nd.
Clarksville economic officials are using the numbers to their advantage as they try to diversify the job base by attracting more white-collar jobs.
"Places with government bases or a diverse economy, where it's not totally at the whim of one or two sectors that may have fallen out of favor for the time being," tend to thrive, even in an uncertain economy, said William Frey, a demographer with The Brookings Institution, an independent think tank in Washington.
Joining the Clarksville area in the top 10 are several other Southern cities, including Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C.; Austin, Texas; and New Orleans.
While Clarksville's place on the list may be surprising at first glance, a closer look at how the area has marketed itself and changed in recent years reveals the reason for its success, said James Chavez, president of the Clarksville Montgomery County Economic Development Council.
Local leaders continue working to change the perception of Clarksville as a strictly military town and as a city in the middle of nowhere.
The area is no farther from downtown Nashville than other surrounding cities.
"The perception when I moved here three and a half years ago was that we're predominantly military, predominantly blue-collar, but that's not the case," Chavez said. "Our economy has grown to a point that that's one facet of who we are, not who we are."
After a tornado ripped through the city seven years ago, city officials began to rebuild and refocus on attracting white-collar jobs and big corporations. A new $250 million Gateway Medical Center will open this summer, for example, bringing a significant number of jobs and specialties not present in the area before, Chavez said.
"We've got projects in the works, and if any one of them hits, it would bring a large scale of newcomers to our community," Chavez said.
After following growth trends, executives with Nashville-based Alley-Cassetty Companies Inc. decided to set up a brick supply office in Clarksville.
"It was a logical step," manager Jeff Jeries said. "They kept seeing growth up this way with the housing industry and Fort Campbell growth and wanted to be in a better position to capitalize."
FAMILIIES TEND TO STAY
The ebb and flow of military deployment has also benefited the area.
About 6,000 more soldiers are stationed at Fort Campbell, the headquarters of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, than in 2002, said Kelly Tyler, a post spokeswoman.
Fort Campbell is the third-largest army post in the country, behind North Carolina's Fort Bragg and Texas' Fort Hood. Recent numbers put Fort Campbell's total military population at 30,865, plus 16,546 family members on post. An additional 46,000 live off the post, Tyler said, and often decide to stay in the Clarksville area after their duty has ended.
"Clarksville, TN is so supportive of the installation that it becomes easier to stay a part of the community," Tyler said.
Most of those 46,000 have settled in Clarksville or other northern Tennessee communities, but city leaders in Hopkinsville, Ky., say they're also working to draw those families north to Christian County. Christian and Trigg counties in Kentucky are part of the Clarksville, TN-KY Metropolitan Statistical Area, along the Montgomery and Stewart counties in Tennessee.
The share of soldiers and their families who have settled in the Hopkinsville area has risen to 18 percent over the past couple of years, said Mayor Dan Kemp. The city is now working to move a bill through the Kentucky legislature that would exempt active-duty military families from the state's income tax to attract more potential residents from the post.
HOME PRICES ARE LOWER
Also responsible for the spike in growth are retirees who have moved from the North in search of warmer climates and who are now fleeing high home prices and turbulent weather. Many have landed in the Clarksville area, where home prices are lower and a large city is nearby, Chavez said.