Business stories to watch in 2018

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CLOSEGROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT AROUND NASHVILLE Nashville is still booming, and the pace hasn't slowed | 0:42

New population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show the Nashville metro statistical area added 36,337 people during the one-year stretch that ended July 1, 2016, meaning the region grew by an average of 100 people a day over those 12 months. Wochit

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CLOSEGROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT AROUND NASHVILLE Low home inventory is driving prices up in Nashville | 0:46

The combination of many potential buyers with a low inventory of homes on the market is driving up prices – and competition – in Nashville. Ayrika Whitney / The Tennessean

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CLOSEGROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT AROUND NASHVILLE Skyscraper crane operator's view of Nashville | 3:12

27-story Westin Nashville Hotel crane operator Lee Essick shares what he sees high in the sky above downtown Nashville. Shelley Mays / The Tennessean

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  • Nashville is still booming, and the pace hasn't slowed
  • Low home inventory is driving prices up in Nashville
  • Skyscraper crane operator's view of Nashville

A rendering shows a proposed downtown tunnel station that is part of Mayor Megan Barry‘s $5.2 billion transit plan.(Photo: Submitted)

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In 2018, the Nashville business community can expect escalating conflicts surrounding property rights, development projects and how to provide health care to the city‘s residents in need. How to manage the city‘s growth will be at the heart of many debates, as development groups and corporations continue to invest in the Middle Tennessee region. 

Here are key business stories to watch in 2018:  

If Metro Council approves a voter referendum, Nashville residents will have the chance to vote on a $5.4 billion transit plan that includes 26 miles of light rail, new bus service and a downtown tunnel on May 1. The project, if approved, would be paid for through new sales, hotel-motel, rental car and business and excise taxes. The Nashville business community, led by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, has begun its push for the massive project and whether it passes could have a large impact on corporate locations and operations, construction work and regional development patterns.

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Amazon sortation center in Nashville (Photo: John Partipilo/File/The Tennessean)

The bid is a long shot, given the 237 competing pitches, but still possible. Nashville has been named a Top 6 prospect by the Wall Street Journal and Business Insider presented Nashville in the Top 8. If the city were chosen and 50,000 workers were needed to fill the company‘s positions, the impact would be enormous and could cause new infrastructure challenges for the city already trying to address growing pains.

A cost-reporting analysis can help health-care providers maximize savings and minimize Medicaid rate reductions. (Photo: mjhiggs16/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The tax reform bill that passed through Congress in December removes an Affordable Care Act mandate requiring individuals to buy insurance or face a tax penalty. The move was expected to lower enrollment and increase insurance premiums for those who remain on the exchange. Meanwhile, support for the Alexander-Murray bipartisan health care legislation was among commitments made to Republican lawmakers to garner votes for tax reform. The bill maintains subsidies for insurers to help them cut costs for low-income patients.

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Nashville residents share their concerns about the growing Short-Term Rental debate in Nashville. George Walker IV / The Tennessean

In January, Metro Council is expected to review three ordinances surrounding regulations for Airbnb and other short-term rental companies. Their presence has grown in recent years, yielding revenue opportunities as well as an increase in disruptive house parties in some Nashville neighborhoods. While some residents want non-owner occupied short-term rentals banned altogether, others want as few regulations as possible.  

In the proposed redevelopment, Assembly Row is an area featuring indoor/outdoor workspaces that create a public forum area. (Photo: Cloud Hill Partnership)

After community opposition built against a proposed mixed-use project for the 21-acre Greer Stadium site, Mayor Megan Barry paused the project to await an archaeological review for potential human remains near Fort Negley.  A preliminary report determined a “high likelihood of human remains” on portions of the property and an official report expected in 2018 will likely impact the project‘s viability.

An overview of the Fifth + Broadway project site. (Photo: Gensler)

Downtown adds new buildings

Among projects taking shape this year is a 540-room Hyatt Regency, a mixed-use site anchored by Whole Foods and the $430 million Fifth + Broadway project replacing the old Nashville Convention Center. Whether an 18-story building with a House of Blues and a high-end hotel joins the riverfront will also be determined. 

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Penny Starr, of Lebanon, Tenn., poses with a catfish before game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., Saturday, June 3, 2017. (Photo: Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean)

During a historic run in 2017, the hockey team inspired admiration among new local fans and gained national recognition for its game experience. While living up to the standards the Predators set on the ice will be difficult, the fan base momentum is likely to build regardless. That means more merchandise sales, more bar and restaurant visits downtown and more demand for tickets. 

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Nashville General Hospital has renovated its emergency room. Larry McCormack / The Tennessean

As Nashville‘s safety net hospital is set to end inpatient care, questions remain over how the operations will wind down, what will happen to the hundreds of employees, what will happen to care for inmates and how the uncompensated care costs would affect other hospitals. The city has proposed an indigent care fund, but how it will be designed is not yet determined.

Reach Jamie McGee at and on Twitter .

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