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August 18, 2015

How health care puts the ‘It’ in ‘It City’

How health care puts the ‘It’ in ‘It City’

Eleanor Kennedy | Nashville Business Journal | Aug. 18

If you want to thank somebody for Nashville’s ‘It City’ status, you can start with our health care giants and the smaller ventures encircling them.

That’s per Mayor Karl Dean, Nashville Health Care Council President Hayley Hovious and Bill Gracey, head of the Nashville Health Care Council board, the three speakers at a NHCC event Tuesday morning unveiling the group’s latest economic impact study.

Health care is truly the lynchpin of Middle Tennessee’s economy, Dean told the crowd of health care council members and other health care fans. Perhaps no sector has played a bigger role in turning us into the “It City”.

(Tired of me using the phrase “It City?” I’ll stop now, I promise.)

While the musicians and makers and foodies may quibble with that assertion (and may have a point given the cultural vibe that’s so key to Nashville’s hot streak), the numbers in the report show just why Dean and others can make that claim.

I shared some of these numbers in an earlier post ( read it here) and the full report is available for download here. It’s a fairly lengthy read, but it’s the very first sentence of the report that gets at why health care is so meaningful here.

Health care is a growth industry that is relatively immune to economic cycles, the report states. The health care sector has been the only sector consistently adding jobs throughout the recent economic crisis.

In other words, having health care as our dominant industry helped Nashville stay afloat during the recession, prepping us for the boom we’ve experienced since.

According to the report, health care employment has grown faster than total non-farm employment in Nashville between 1998 and 2013. Overall, Nashville’s health care sector grew 42 percent in that time frame, and since 2008 and 2013, one-fourth of all non-farm jobs created were in health care.

This may not be surprising to any Nashville residents who’ve lived here long enough and know that the odds are good any new person they meet has a job related to health care. But it’s clear reminder why what happens in health care matters to every Middle Tennessee resident, regardless of industry.

Look for more from the report in our print edition this Friday, when I’ll dive into comparisons between Nashville and our peer cities and present more of the report’s data in easily digestible form.

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