Nate Rau
May 19, 2022 - Business

Delgado Guitars brings Nashville vibe to Geodis Park

Luthier Manuel Delgado and his family pose with the guitar he custom built for Geodis Park.
Luthier Manuel Delgado and his family pose with the guitar he custom-built for Geodis Park. Photo: courtesy of Delgado Guitars

To ensure that the new Geodis Park has an authentic Nashville vibe, the Nashville SC collaborated with local artists to fill the new stadium.

Driving the news: Among the artwork is a guitar built by luthier Manuel Delgado of East Nashville's Delgado Guitars.

Nate Rau
Apr 28, 2022 - News

Cooper prioritizes education, housing in State of Metro address

Photo illustration of Nashville Mayor John Cooper with lines radiating from him.
Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Leah Puttkammer/Getty Images

Nashville Mayor John Cooper proposed a record spending increase for schools and a dedicated funding source for affordable housing initiatives as part of the annual State of Metro address Wednesday.

Why it matters: Cooper's agenda seeks to take on Nashville's affordability crisis and return to kitchen table issues like education, housing and public safety.

  • Cooper didn't mention the possibility of a new Titans stadium or the recently approved deal to purchase the Hickory Hollow Mall and lease it to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for a health care facility.

Details: Cooper proposed increasing funding for Metro Nashville Public Schools by $91.2 million, a new record for the district's annual budget.

  • The funds would be used for 4% cost-of-living raises for teachers and other district staffers. Cooper said the money will help increase pay for bus drivers and fill approximately 150 vacancies.
  • He touted the addition of paid family medical leave for all MNPS employees.

Flashback: Cooper's administration also set records last year for teacher pay raises (about $7,000 per teacher), and for new school buildings and construction ($191 million).

  • Over the last three years, his administration has allocated a combined $397 million for capital projects like the new James Lawson High School in Bellevue.

By the numbers: Cooper made news during his speech Wednesday with the commitment to work with Metro Council to pass legislation that would create a first-ever dedicated funding source for affordable housing initiatives.

  • The mayor proposed earmarking property tax revenue from the Music City Center for affordable housing. That comes out to $14.3 million annually, according to the most recent property tax appraisal.
  • He is proposing $20 million for the operating budget, supplemented by $30 million in federal pandemic relief funds for affordable housing investments in the next year.
  • Cooper also committed $50 million in federal relief funds to address homelessness.

What he's saying: "As we grow, we must do so in a way that works for every neighborhood, and make sure no one gets left behind," Cooper said to conclude his address. "That requires investing alongside our growth and innovating to keep pace with the challenges presented by our growth."

Nate Rau
Apr 27, 2022 - News

Cannery Row will stick to music

three-story brick building with a sign that reads "Mercy Lounge" and wooden stairs leading up.
Photo: Beth Gwinn/Getty Images

Music industry veteran Brent Hyams has been hired to operate music venues inside the Cannery Row building, the longtime home to the Mercy Lounge complex.

What we're watching: Mercy Lounge announced last year its lease wouldn't be renewed after nearly 20 years in the space.

  • DZL, which owns the Cannery Row building, vowed at the time to maintain the space as music venues.
  • The facility will undergo upgrades beginning in June and reopen later this summer, the company announced. The final Mercy Lounge concerts will be in May.

Why it matters: It's been a tumultuous time for independent music venues in Nashville.

  • Earlier this year, 3rd and Lindsley's owner confirmed they're exploring relocation.
  • And the longtime operators of Exit/In could be forced out after that building was sold last year. The new owners have also vowed to maintain Exit/In as a music venue, but it's in question if the club will remain independent.
  • Corporate giants Live Nation and AEG have invested heavily in Nashville's live music industry in recent years, making it difficult for independent clubs to succeed.

What he's saying: "This is a legacy opportunity for me as someone who has both been a fan of the Cannery and worked within Nashville's music industry," Hyams said.

  • Hyams previously worked at the Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.
Nate Rau
Apr 26, 2022 - News

The Tennessee state budget has tax cuts for you

Illustration of the Tennessee State Capitol building with lines radiating from it.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The state budget on track to be signed by Gov. Bill Lee includes more than $418 million in tax cuts, including breaks designed to help citizens deal with rising inflation.

  • The budget, which has already passed the House and Senate, slashes the state portion of license plate registration fees for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
  • It also eliminates the tax on food items in the month of August.

By the numbers: The license plate fee reduction costs $121 million, and the grocery tax holiday carries an estimated price tag of $80 million.

  • Other tax cuts in the budget include:
    • $68 million: Broadband tax relief for one year
    • $9.7 million: Doctors eliminated from professional privilege tax
    • $3 million: Agriculture machinery and equipment
    • $320,000: Tax-free gun safes

Why it matters: Your grocery bill will be a little lighter in August, and you'll save about $20 on your car registration.

  • When Lee rolled out the grocery plan last month, he said "suspending the grocery tax is the most effective way to provide direct relief to every Tennessean."

Yes, but: Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) lamented last week during the finance committee debate over the budget that lawmakers didn't do more to help state workers shoulder the burden of inflation.

  • Yarbro says the state should harness the power of its recurring surplus, estimated to be $1.32 billion.

What he's saying: "Where this becomes real is that the actual cost of living for every state employee, every public school teacher, is up about 8.5% last month compared to March last year," Yarbro said during a finance committee discussion.

  • "We're not keeping up our pay increases for our state employees with just the basic rate of inflation."
Adam Tamburin
Apr 26, 2022 - News

Kroger is still king among Nashville grocers

Data: Chain Store Guide, LLC; Table: Thomas Oide/Axios

Kroger was once again the region's top grocer in 2021, bagging a third of the market share.

By the numbers: The store pulled in $2.3 billion in sales across 51 stores in the Nashville area, per new data from Chain Store Guide, a sales-tracking firm.

  • Grocery stores across the area logged more than $6.1 billion in total sales.

Between the lines: Grocery sales spiked at the height of the pandemic, as people ate at home.

Of note: The analysis included a review of all 14 counties in the Nashville metropolitan statistical area.

Nate Rau
Apr 22, 2022 - Business

Vinyl records boom nationally, in Nashville

Data: RIAA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Nashville continues to assert itself as one of the world's preeminent vinyl record cities.

  • Czech Republic-based GZ Media recently announced it's opening a manufacturing and distribution center on Brick Church Drive called Nashville Record Pressing.
Adam Tamburin
Apr 14, 2022 - Business

New era of office work has direct impact on Nashville's development

Illustration of an office water cooler becoming pixelated
Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Employers are revisiting their work-from-home policies at this point in the pandemic, with some embracing new hybrid models.

Why it matters: The ongoing evolution of office work is actively shaping the city's development.

Adam Tamburin
Apr 11, 2022 - Business

Chancellor Daniel Diermeier talks Vanderbilt's next phase

Vanderbilt chancellor Daniel Diermeier stands in a suit
Vanderbilt University chancellor Daniel Diermeier. Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt

Two years after becoming chancellor at Vanderbilt University, Daniel Diermeier wants to invest in "pockets" of the institution that have not achieved international acclaim.

  • Diermeier tells Axios there is room for improvement in some graduate programs. He also highlighted a renewed focus on athletics, which is getting $300 million in infrastructure upgrades.

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