Forward Push is happy to announce our new office opening in Nashville, TN. I asked Nashville resident Dave Delaney to write a guest post for the Forward Push blog explaining why he thought businesses are moving to Nashville. As we prepare to become one of those businesses, we look forward to being able to serve our clients from the West and the South and anywhere in between. Welcome to Forward Push South.

The reason businesses are coming to Nashville shouldn’t be all that foreign to any of us.

Just think of why Nashville is Music City: Songwriters, musicians, audio engineers and so on come together to form an interconnected web where they can write, record and practice their craft.

Now replace those figures with entrepreneurs, developers and digital marketing professionals (like me), coming together in Nashville to build businesses, write code and collaborate on the next big idea.

The two stories really aren’t all that different when you consider the conditions that built both. The difference is that this time as we look at the tech business sector, we’re seeing the pieces come together right before our eyes.

While there are many driving factors bringing small business and entrepreneurs to Nashville, I think there are four key elements that make Nashville stand out.

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Education

If you think about cities and regions that are thriving right now, one of the keys to their success is having a wealth of educational resources available to help talent continue to grow and learn.

Not only is Middle Tennessee home to several top-tier colleges and universities, it’s now becoming home to many software bootcamps like Iron Yard and the Nashville Software School. For people looking to either begin or transition into technology careers, there is a wide range of cost-effective opportunities to get the training and experience to become a developer. And the recent announcement by the Nashville Software School that it will now be able to accept the GI Bill means that even more people — especially veterans — will be drawn to the region.

Combine those efforts with the Tennessee Promise, which places high school seniors in community colleges or technical schools tuition-free, and the strength of our library system and it’s easy to see how our educational resources are a strong selling point for small business.

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Infrastructure

Yes, Nashville still has infrastructure issues, especially in regards to transit. But there’s no denying that the rapidly growing technology infrastructure — specifically the rollout of gigabit internet services by Google Fiber, Comcast, and AT&T — has helped attract businesses to the region. This comes as no surprise as other regions with similar offerings have seen substantial growth. In fact, a study conducted in 2014 showed that cities like Austin, Kansas City and, yes, Chattanooga, saw real estate property values rise after the introduction of gigabit internet offerings. As these services are now rolling out here, our region will continue to reap the benefits.

There are other aspects of our technology infrastructure that we, quite frankly, tend to take for granted because they’ve become so tightly integrated into the fabric of our city. The Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Nashville Technology Council, and Nashville Chamber of Commerce have all done so much to help attract both talent and business into our region. The valuable resources that these organizations provide cannot be underestimated.

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Collaboration

One of the biggest issues that freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses have is locating adequate space. Many times, leasing a full office isn’t necessary, and it becomes tiring (and expensive) to sit at coffee shops every day.

Fortunately, Nashville now has a strong supply of co-working spaces. These are places that offer space at an affordable price to those looking to work in an office environment. From Germantown’s The Skillery and Deavor to Refinery Nashville, Center615, eSpaces and many others, there’s a wide variety of accommodations and offerings to suit your needs.

But these spaces aren’t just places to work. They’re also places for collaboration, which for many entrepreneurs and small businesses, isn’t easy to come by. Co-working spaces become ecosystems for innovation and creativity as a writer sits next to a developer who’s sitting next to an accountant. This type of collaboration isn’t found in every city, but in Nashville, it’s starting to become a way of life. And that’s a great thing for us.

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Community

But the thing that really started it all — at least in my mind — is the close-knit community here in Nashville.

Nashville has often been referred to as a city with a small-town feel. It certainly felt that way when I moved here. Yes, it’s evolving, with all of the new development and more cranes than we can count. But I’m proud to say that the business and technology community is just as strong as ever.

BarCamp Nashville, one of the first community-focused technology events in the region, will celebrate its 10th year in Music City this fall. Nashcocktail, TechTN and other regular networking events help to bring the community together and allow for new conversations and opportunities.

In addition to these broader community events, there are smaller, niche meet-ups and events targeting just about every aspect of technology and related topics. In fact, it’s tough to find a night in the month when there isn’t a developer meet-up happening.

Nashville’s making its mark in regards to diversity as well. Girl Geek Dinner has made a strong impact for women in the technology community and there regular gatherings of those in the LGBT community who are interested and work in tech fields.

Meanwhile, organizations like Social Media Club Nashville and NAMA as well as events like Craft Content regularly attract large numbers of writers, bloggers, marketers, social media specialists, and podcasters.

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Yes, Nashville will always be Music City. But with the region’s strengths in education, technology infrastructure, collaboration and community, we’ll continue to see our beloved city grow into a welcoming home for entrepreneurs and small businesses as well.

Guest author Dave Delaney is a Nashville-based, social media and digital marketing consultant, author, and keynote speaker. Don’t miss his insights on the Futureforth Blog.