Back to the Future: Getting Tennessee in the Game of Today’s Innovation Economy
In recent decades, the most transformative sector of the American economy and our lives has been technology. while all American consumers have benefited from using these technologies, the benefits from creating them are becoming ever more concentrated. Despite the recent growth of its tech and innovation economy, Nashville still isn’t a national driver in technology innovation—and concerns remain over whether the Middle Tennessee labor market can meet those growing demands. Additionally, the rest of the state has not experienced anywhere near the same level of growth.
If Tennessee wishes to have a thriving economy in the future, it must become a tech and innovation leader today. To do so, Tennessee needs a more dynamic economy in which new technology startups are created, thrive, sometimes fail, and realign. Tennessee lawmakers can accomplish this by creating the strongest culture of “permissionless innovation” in the country—a culture of innovation without government intrusion, where the next Elon Musk has the right to innovate and will be welcomed and supported and live without fear of arcane, archaic, or onerous regulations getting in the way. The first step in creating this culture should be to follow Utah’s example and create an industry-agnostic regulatory sandbox in which all entrepreneurs and companies can obtain regulatory relief and clarity to fast-track their businesses and innovative ideas. If not, little can be done to truly challenge the hegemony of coastal cities in the innovation economy.
If Tennessee lawmakers do commit and embark on creating the most free and innovative economy the nation has ever seen, who knows? Someday soon the Tennessee Valley will be the new Silicon Valley.