Mt. Juliet Takes Top Honors with Tax Structure, Growth
Nashville Business Journal
By Eric Snyder
You can’t exactly call Mt. Juliet, population 12,366, and underdog. Named as 2010’s most business-friendly city in Tennessee by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, it has come close before, being ranked second in both 2006 and 2007.
Mt. Juliet was ranked the top city in the study’s economic vitality category, which reviewed cities’ job growth, population change and median income.
Kenny Martin, Mt. Juliet’s director of economic and community development, said the city’s "zero percent property tax has been a big plus." It’s not the first thing he cites when asked what makes the city business friendly, however.
"The bottom line is, it comes down to our people," Martin said. He said city officials lavish potential new business with attention while considering Mt. Juliet, regardless of the number of people they will employ. Martin listed the arrival of musical equipment distributor KHS America and Cheddar’s restaurant as recent wins. Other large employers in Mt. Juliet include Jones Brothers Construction Co., Manheim Nashville and Environmental Science Corp.
Martin said the biggest chunk of revenue comes from retail sales tax, increasing the importance of residents shopping locally. Providence MarketPlace, one of the region’s largest retail destinations, opened in 2006.
After working for a local vet for nearly 10 years, Dr. Aaron Hollis knew that he would open his own clinic in Mt. Juliet when the time came. In August, he launched the Providence Animal Hospital & Pet Resort.
Hollis likes Mt. Juliet because of its family friendliness and support of small businesses. Going forward, however, "there are some issues that we’re going to have to address," he said, such as staffing for police and fire protection.
Adressing those issues, and others like traffic concerns, may require loosening the zero-property tax policy. Hollis, for instance, said the city should explore a way of levying taxes on big-box retailers coming to town.
Shopper loyalty is the attraction for Ted Newman, the owner of PC Dude, a local group of computer repair and service stores. Newman wanted to put a location in Mt. Juliet for a simple reason. "The people in Mt. Juliet shop in Mt. Juliet," Newman said. So when he decided a location in downtown Nashville’s Arcade wasn’t pulling its weight, he opened a Mt. Juliet store in July. He hopes to turn the chain into a national frachise with hundreds of outlets over the next decade. Because he leases his store space, Mt. Juliet’s zero percent property tax didn’t play a role. Rather, it was the feedback that he heard from other store owners, and the fact that Mt. Juliet is a safe place where Newman felt comfortable leaving the business. "You don’t see a lot of run-down areas," Newman said. "They seem to keep the town clean."