Nashville is at Epicenter of the New Economy


October 13, 2016 9:54AM

A new Brookings Institution report released today notes that the sharing economy in Nashville is booming. The sharing economy has been defined as “an economic model in which individuals are able to borrow or rent assets owned by someone else.” The best examples are using your car to give people rides using services like Uber and Lyft, or renting out your home for a few nights on Airbnb, VRBO, or HomeAway.

That the sharing economy is roaring in Nashville comes as no surprise to those of us living here, as Nashville is a hot destination, especially among young people. And along with that activity comes increased demand for transportation and places to stay. Services like those above provide the needed supply.

This is creating clashes of epic proportions, as cities try fervently to keep regulation moving at the same pace as this new economy develops. Disputes between the old guard and the new are front and center in Nashville like they are in places like San Francisco and New York City. When Uber arrived in Music City, the taxi industry rebelled. For awhile, city officials sided with the old guard, but quickly came to their senses. The state legislature then stepped in to ensure that no Tennessee city—Nashville or otherwise—would dismantle these new services at the behest of the status quo.

Now that the dust has settled on ride-sharing, the debate over home-sharing is all the rage. Nashville already has unconstitutional laws on the books dealing with short-term rentals, and it will be considering even worse restrictions in the coming weeks. And once again, the legislature is weighing whether to step in and protect the new economy from being trampled by the old guard.

While these innovative solutions have indeed caused friction, they are also creating the most opportunities for human flourishing the world has ever seen. They allow people to be unencumbered by the traditional 9-to-5, chart their own destinies, and provide for their families in ways they otherwise never could, all while providing a benefit to society and our local economy. We’re breeding a whole new crop of entrepreneurs, and we’re all better off for it. Unless the old guard wins out.

As the Brookings report shows, Nashville is on the front lines of this battle. It’s imperative that the city embrace the new economy rather than shun it, so that we can all benefit from the prosperity it creates.