Nashville regulations play “A Burdensome Tune” for entrepreneurs

September 12, 2011 10:31AM

New report shows how stringent rules harm many local small business owners

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Center for Policy Research issued a policy report today exposing how Nashville’s regulatory environment harms local entrepreneurs and small businesses. The report, titled A Burdensome Tune, analyzes the litany of rules and restrictions placed on home-based businesses, street and food truck vendors, sidewalk salesmen, taxi drivers, valet service operators, and auctioneers.

These often-unnecessary regulations are harming thousands of Nashville residents. Despite the fact that roughly 13,000 of its residents work from home, Nashville is one of the most unfriendly cities in the nation when it comes to home-based businesses. For instance, Pat Raynor, a widow, cannot establish a small hair salon in her own residence because city regulations prohibit any home-based business from serving customers at home. Street and food vendors also get caught in a tangled web of regulations in the Music City. Tim Smith, who sells sunglasses to tourists during large events such as the annual CMA Festival, recently lost more than $10,000 in income due to the arbitrary enforcement of vague rules imposed by the city government. As if the current regulatory environment was not burdensome enough, the Metro Nashville Traffic & Parking Commission will meet this afternoon to propose stringent new regulations on the city’s food truck vendors. With the recent recession limiting job opportunities, more than 70 entrepreneurs have opened food trucks in Nashville, serving everything from tacos to hamburgers, to the delight of Nashville residents and tourists. In an effort to protect more powerful brick and mortar businesses, the commission is seeking to impose onerous and unnecessary regulations on these entrepreneurs. “The red tape spewing out of Metro Government must be cut,” said TCPR President Justin Owen. “Home-based business owners, street vendors, food truck operators, and other Nashville entrepreneurs have a right to earn an honest living, free from arbitrary and needless government regulations.” Competitors of these entrepreneurs frequently try to curb competition by promoting rules and regulations that make it nearly impossible for a small-scale entrepreneur to thrive. “Powerful businesses often use government as a blunt instrument of force to harm and in some cases even shut down their competition, typically under the guise that the regulations are necessary to protect the health, safety, or welfare of citizens,” Owen said. “However, as A Burdensome Tune shows, legal recourse already exists to protect the health and safety of Nashville residents without putting people out of business.” The report, which can be downloaded at, offers five solutions that would alleviate the burdens on local entrepreneurs, moves that would benefit not just them, but also the entire Nashville community. The Tennessee Center for Policy Research is an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan think tank committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee. Through research and advocacy, the Center promotes policy solutions grounded in the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government.