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RE: Locations
August 2003

Nashville, Tennessee: Country Music, Charming Culture And World-Class Call Centers

By James Beatty, NCS International, Inc.

When Nashville, Tennessee was settled in 1779, no one could have dreamed that the city would become the business and trade center it is today. This is due, in part, to the active and growing call centers, service centers and back-office operations located in the area.

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce has had tremendous success in recruiting these types of enterprises. Companies such as Dell Computer, Catepillar, Ford Motor Credit, Bell South, Deloitte and Touche and Convergys all operate customer service operations in the area.

Thanks to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, which has been serving the area since 1847, I was able to visit and study the 10 county areas the Chamber of Commerce services and can offer some firsthand observations about the viability and visibility of the call centers in this thriving metropolitan area. In a word'outstanding! Here's why.

The Nashville MSA is comprised of eight counties: Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson. The Nashville Economic Market (NEM) is comprised of these eight counties plus the two counties of Maury and Montgomery. These 10 counties also represent the area served by the Chamber, which makes it very easy for any call center prospect to receive information from a single source.

Look at these exciting growth figures comparing 1990 to 2002:

County 1999 2002 Percent Change
Cheatham 27,140 37,524 38.3
Davidson 510,784 579,500 13.5
Dickson 35,061                             44,603  27.2
Robertson                                       41,494 56,804 36.9
Rutherford                               118,570  193,969  63.6
Sumner                                    103,281 135,365   31.1
Williamson                                   81,021 135,244 66.9
Wilson                                             67,675 92,680 36.9
MSA                                         955,026 1,275,689 29.5
Maury                                              55,285 72,160 30.5
Montgomery                                 101,618 141,085 38.8
NEM                                     1,141,929 1,488,934 30.4

Source: ACCRA

With a growth rate of over 30 percent, the area grew faster than the state of Tennessee as a whole. The state growth rate was 19.2 percent for the same period. Clearly, the opportunity to attract people to the area should comfort any prospect considering the 10 county area.

Workforce Diversity

Race Percentage
White 79.4
Black 15.6
Asian & Pacific Islander 1.7
American Indian & Alaska Native 0.3
Other 3.0


Age Distribution
0-17 24.8 %
18-24 10.2 %
25-44 32.9 %
45-64 22.0 %
65 plus 10.0 %

Source: 2000 Census, U S. Census Bureau

Labor Force Data
The Nashville Economic Market labor force was 767,780 as of calendar year 2001, which represents a 25.0 percent increase over 1990. The Labor Force has a 69.5 percent participation rate compared to 64.0 percent for the state of Tennessee and 64.4 percent for the U.S. Following is a labor force breakout by each county.

Davidson 308,190
Cheatham 20,030
Dickson 22,350
Maury 37,060
Montgomery 60,220
Robertson 29,890
Rutherford 99,420
Sumner 71,470
Williamson 70,010
Wilson 49,080
Nashville Economic Market 767,780

Source: Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development

The 2001 annual net increase in the Nashville Economic Market labor force was 20,838, which would be a representative year.

Based on a 2002 Wage and Salary Survey, the following data provide some insight into the area's wages by job title. I have chosen to highlight those titles related to the customer service industry.

Title Median Salary
Human Resources Director $74,763
Customer Service Supervisor $37,490
Administrative Supervisor $32,288
Marketing Representative $35,322


Title Median Hourly Salary
Sales Managers $28.73
Computer Programmers $26.30
Computer Support Specialists $17.15
Network Administrators $21.61
Accounting Clerks $12.35
First Line Supervisors $16.35
Customer Service Representatives $10.87
Information Clerks $10.02
Administrative Assistants $14.10

Sources: Partnership 2010 Wage and Salary Survey, Burris & Associates; Bureau of Labor Statistics, Year 2000

In the Nashville area, education has a major impact, as evidenced by the 19 colleges and universities with enrollment approaching 80,000. In the Nashville MSA, 44.9 percent of the adults over 25 have at least one year of college and over 45,000 persons have graduate or professional degrees. SAT and ACT scores rank above state and national averages as well.

Colleges And Universities Enrollment In The Nashville Economic Market

Aquinas College 575
Austin Peay State University 7,003
Belmont University 3,100
Columbia State Community College 4,451
Cumberland University 1,471
Lipscomb University 2,627
Fisk University 888
Meharry Medical College 800
Middle Tennessee State University 20,072
Nashville School of Law 350
Nashville State Tech Community College 7,017
Tennessee Technological University 8,584
Trevecca Nazarene University 1,819
Tennessee State University 8,664
University of Tennessee School of Social Work 150
Vanderbilt University 10,496
Volunteer State Community College 6,822
Tennessee Technology Center (Nashville) 1,168
Tennessee Technology Center (Dickson) 557
Tennessee Technology Center (Murfreesboro) 335
Total Enrollment 78,365

Source: Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce

The Nashville area has more than 158,000 miles of fiber optics, with most customers within two miles of fiber availability. There are also more than 700 SONET rings in the area. There are 43 digital switching offices in the Nashville area, and two diverse LATA tandem switches and two local tandem switches. Major telecom providers of local and long-distance services include Bell South, AT&T, XO Communications, Adelphia Business Solutions, New South Communications, US LEC of Tennessee and TDS Telecom. There are at least 40 different companies providing these services in the Nashville area

Call Centers, Back-Office And Customer Service Centers
There are 27 major call center, back-office and customer service operations in the Nashville Economic Market, employing almost 17,000 people. The type of operations range from servicing pensions plans to computer support to credit and financial services. This should serve as testimony to the excellent labor quality and availability in the area. Table 1 displays the variety of operations, business description and educational requirements by center.

When considering the Nashville area, call centers should be cognizant of the fact that the area encompasses 10 counties with a labor force of almost 800,000 well-educated people within a population of 1.5 million.

Telecommunications availability and support is readily available and the technical and management expertise necessary to operate a successful center is available or easily recruitable due to the great quality of life in the area.

Nashville deserves your serious consideration.

As usual, I am always anxious to hear from readers with comments, questions and suggestions regarding this as well as other call center location issues. Please e-mail me at [email protected] and please refer to www.callcentersites.net, the official site for call center and back-office information worldwide.

[ Return To August 2003 Table Of Contents ]

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