John Cooper

Mayor John Cooper at Monday's Nashville Entrepreneur Center event

Mayor John Cooper was among the speakers at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center’s hall of fame event on Monday. In his remarks, he praised the city’s entrepreneurs for their innovation, success and resiliency throughout the pandemic.

The Post spoke with Cooper at the event about the city’s entrepreneurship scene.

In the past year, Nashville made national headlines for its reputation as a business-friendly city, but the city also received some criticism for its handling of COVID-19. Was the economy more of a priority to you than COVID?

Nashville wasn’t number one in the world for COVID. It was the state of Tennessee. But yes, it was a difficult time for the city, as it was for every city across the country. However, we showed that we could prevail even during a pandemic. Close to 60 percent of our city is vaccinated. Nashville showed its resiliency as a city.

How has inbound migration from other states changed business in Nashville?

We hope that Nashville never changes who it is. That’s why countless individuals and businesses have moved here from out-of-state — because of who we are as a town. Nashville is a big city with small town southern hospitality. We want to maintain that reputation.

Obviously, the new business and investment have been positive for the city, but it’s important to note that Nashville’s population has become more diverse. So from that perspective, the change has been positive.

What measures are you taking to maintain Nashville’s reputation as a business-friendly climate?

This city is an engine and this engine requires a lot of money to run. I am committed to ensuring that Nashville receives the money it needs to continue as a beacon for the state. The legislature makes the state’s budget. Typically, they spread the funding fairly evenly between rural and urban areas. But in order for Nashville to continue generating the revenue it does for the state, the legislature must be sure they are investing proportionally in our city. We need mass transit, more money for infrastructure and our schools.

How do you ensure incentives offered to businesses and developers benefit the city long term?

It’s all about making common sense financial decisions. For example, the incentives offered for Fifth + Broad were offered in order to create a development that would benefit our community and attract others to Nashville.

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