Madison County Mayoral Candidate AJ Massey: Focusing on Schools and Education Will Help Kill ‘Public School-to-Prison Pipeline’

Madison County Mayoral Candidate AJ Massey: Focusing on Schools and Education Will Help Kill ‘Public School-to-Prison Pipeline’

Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Madison County Republican mayoral candidate AJ Massey on the newsmaker line to discuss his agenda for growth and education.

Leahy: We now welcome to our newsmaker line, Mr. AJ Massey, who is running for mayor of Madison County. Good morning, AJ.

Massey: Good morning, everybody. How are y’all?

Leahy: We’re great. We’re delighted to have you on here. So tell us about yourself. What’s your background, AJ?

Massey: Sure. Yeah. I’m a native of West Tennessee, grew up in West Tennessee and went to college here and had a 17-year career in banking. And that ended in January when I elected to run for a local office. You can’t really chase two rabbits, don’t do well with that. So we chose to run for office. So we’ve been doing that since January.

Leahy: People know Jackson as the place you stop to get gas two hours from Nashville sometimes, to the west, about an hour from Memphis. Good restaurants there.

I stop by and take a break there sometimes. But people don’t know that much about Jackson and Madison County. Tell us a little bit about some of the challenges there that you face in Madison County.

Massey: Sure. Madison County is, you’re exactly right. We’re right down in the middle of everything. We’re called the Hub City. Jackson is called the Hub City for a reason. All the West Tennessee, outside of Memphis, looks to Jackson for commerce and for goods and a lot of well-paying jobs.

And so as far as what challenges are, I think we’re a disproportionately high poverty number in the city of Jackson, and really Madison County as a whole. So that’s a challenge that makes education difficult, that makes law enforcement difficult, and that makes a lot of things difficult.

But there’s so much good happening in West Tennessee that, there’s so much good happening in Madison County but also in West Tennessee, bringing on, we’re getting a great Wolf Lodge in Jackson.

If you don’t know what that is, it’s an indoor water park hotel, and nearly 500 rooms have been built in the city of Jackson. We’ll have, of course, the Megasite in Haywood County where Ford Blue Oval City will be in the next few years.

That’s within about 40 miles of our county border. That’s going to be a big shot to Madison County and West Tennessee. So that’s really what we’re trying to do, is trying to get ahead of these things, be paying attention.

I’ve got a young family, and I want the next 20 years. I want them to be around here. I want my boys to choose to locate in West Tennessee and not be too far from Mom and Dad, and hopefully grandkids someday, so we’re trying to make this place as attractive and as safe and, giving them everything they want, where they don’t feel like they need to go anywhere.

Leahy: Crom Carmichael, our original all-star panelist has a question for you, AJ.

Carmichael: AJ, how close is Jackson to that new Ford facility?

Massey: It’s about 40 miles. Between 40 and 50 miles, depending on how you go, between Madison County and Blue Oval City.

And that’s actually a great opportunity. Ford has a requirement that a certain number of suppliers that are going to help that plan out with different needs are required to be within 50 miles of that facility.

So that really puts East Memphis, that puts some of our north, west counties, and then, of course, Madison County is sitting right there ready to accept a lot of the suppliers. And our infrastructure is ready for that.

Carmichael: So, Jackson is inside that 50-mile radius?

Massey: Yes, sir. Correct.

Carmichael: Okay.

Massey: One of our most, and I don’t know if there was just some foreknowledge there or just some premonition, but the western part of our county nearest to the Megasite has a vast option of industrial sites that are already with wastewater and utilities. And so we’re just waiting for the right businesses to take their claim to those.

Leahy: AJ, what is the main reason why people who live in Madison County should vote for you for mayor of Madison County?

Massey: Absolutely. Well, we’re trying to pay attention. We’re trying to be on our toes. We’ve had similar leadership in Madison County for the last, really, 30 years. And the folks that have chosen to run in this race as well are kind of on the same cloth.

And there are some statistics that came out not long ago that has Madison County ranked 95th out of 95 counties, in nearly every category. And that whole thing is if we do what we’ve always done, we’re going to get what we’ve got.

And I think it’s just time for a change. I think it’s time for somebody with some energy, some renewed focus. I’m not trying to get anybody out of the office. I’m not trying to kick anybody out, but I do think it’s time for people to step aside and allow new leadership with fresh ideas.

As I said, I’ve got an 8-year-old and a 3-year-old boy. And that’s where my focus is, trying to build a community that they can be proud of over the next 20 years.

I’m not looking at the next election cycle. I’m not looking at the next budget cycle. I’m looking at the next few decades to make sure, because I’m going to be here, I’m going to be around, and I’m going to have to give an account to what we did or didn’t do with this opportunity coming to West Tennessee.

Leahy: AJ, what is the most important fresh new idea you have to improve the status of Madison County from, as you say, 95th out of 95 counties in almost every category?

Massey: Sure. I’ve been on the Jackson Madison County school board since 2018. I’m a public school graduate. My wife is a public school graduate. My oldest son is in public school. My youngest hadn’t gotten quite to that level yet.

But it’s schools. Schools really drive everything around here. I’m sure it is with most communities but that’s going to reduce our crime rate.

That’s going to reduce our jail population. That’s a long-term play, though the further down the line we get we have to make sure those children are educated at grade level when they’re first, second, third grade.

That way they kill that public-school-to-prison pipeline that seems to happen, and that obviously helps with crime, helps with commerce, and the ability to supply the workforce for all these great companies. I’m passionate about schools. I think our schools need to be …

Leahy: Let me ask you a question about that. In the four years you’ve served on the Jackson Madison school board, what have you done to improve the status of schools there? Because it looks like everywhere in the state over that four-year period the performance of students has gone down, down, down.

Massey: Sure. Madison County is a unique county. We have four thriving private schools and so there are lots of options here in town for nontraditional public education.

There’s also a district just north of us that’s just done the right things and they’ve attracted a lot of families to move outside of our county to go to that district.

But the way last four years we’ve had tremendous success with our academics in our classroom. We have some very pointed, data-driven curriculum that’s happening in our classroom that’s showing improvement.

Listen to the full interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “AJ Massey” by AJ Massey. Background Photo “Madison County Courthouse” by Www78. CC BY-SA 3.0.


















Tennessee State Representative Chris Hurt Talks Ford Deal Points and Growth for West Tennessean’s

Tennessee State Representative Chris Hurt Talks Ford Deal Points and Growth for West Tennessean’s


Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee State Representative Chris Hurt of Haywood County (R-District 82) to the newsmaker line to discuss details of the Ford mega site deal as a big win for West Tennesseeans.

Leahy: We are delighted to welcome to our newsmaker line State Representative Chris Hurt, who represents Haywood, Crockett, and Lauderdale counties. Welcome, Chris! Thanks for coming to the program.

Hurt: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

Leahy: Well, I think for you, this week’s session which ended in the approval of an appropriation of $884 million in financial incentives to help bring Ford Motor and Electric Battery Company into the Memphis Regional mega site was a big day for you. Would you consider that to be a big success in your legislative career?

Hurt: Oh, absolutely. It was a huge step for our state in general, but more specifically for our region over here in West Tennessee. And, yes, it was a highlight of my service so far, and I was excited to be part of the General Assembly when this opportunity came upon us.

Leahy: Now that mega site out there, it’s had a very long and twisted history. Give us a background on how the mega site came about, how long it’s been there, how long it’s been empty?

Hurt: The discussion started in the early 2000s and the property was purchased in 2007. The property has been there and the state has owned it for 14 years, and it has had a rocky road. Early on there was some excitement about it through the years without being able to attract a tenant.

There was a lot of interest loss. There was the question of the wastewater, the infrastructure build-out which really felt like a commitment there needed to be made in order to attract a tenant.

But I don’t want to say it was on the chopping block a couple of times, but it was definitely a lot of concern in the General Assembly and with involved leaders that if we would ever be able to get anything there because of the infrastructure questions.

But each year before me, we had local leaders that continued to battle for it and keep it in the budget to keep some funding and keep trying to move forward.

And then leaders there in the legislature, fortunately, with Governor Haslam, and don’t let me get started with Governor Bredesen, but through the Haslam administration, into the Governor Lee administration, we were able to keep it there and keep it alive to be ready for this opportunity.

One of the drawbacks was it was so large. It ended up being a plus, but through the years it was a 4,100-acre track that a lot of tenants didn’t quite want that much.

And then they were concerned about what would be done with the rest of the track if they didn’t utilize it. Also, through the years, it had a rough road.

But fortunately, through what I feel is good leadership we are able to keep it there and be able to capitalize on this opportunity with Ford.

Leahy: Now, see if I have this right. Did Ford promise that this facility, both their electric pickup manufacturing facility and the electric battery manufacturer that’s coming in as part of the partnership that by 10 years from today, they will create 5,800 new jobs? Is that part of the deal?

Hurt: That is part of the deal and through the ECD commitment, it actually, I think in 10 years they have to have continued to provide I believe it was up to 90 percent of those jobs. So that would be 5,100 is the way I understood it.

Leahy: Got you.

Hurt: Or at that time, the state could utilize some of the clawback featured parts of the agreement to go in and start pulling back and getting repaid some of those incentives. So yes, that is correct. That was the way I understood it.

Leahy: In terms of accountability for this, I’m going somewhere with this question. They say, okay, the deal is and it’s $884 million, $500 million looks like it’s just cutting checks to Ford or the subsidiary that set up with the joint venture with the electric battery company if we get to ten years and they don’t have to reach 5,100 jobs, how much of that money will come back to Tennessee taxpayers?

Hurt: Well, there’s a formula. If they’ve only produced 80 percent of those 5,800 jobs, then 20 percent of the clawbacks would go into effect. So there’s a percentage right scale there that if they were going to only produce 50 percent of the jobs, let’s say around 2,900, then they would have a 50 percent clawback.

And the way I understood if there was a penalty there also with interest that would be added to that at a pretty good I believe I’m stating that I may have been on another discussion. I know it’s a percentage based on the number of jobs they’ve provided based on what they promised.

Leahy: So let me play Devil’s advocate here. Let’s say we get 10 years from today and we find instead of 5,100 jobs, they’ve created half of that 2,550.

And it’s 2032, and we do the count, and it’s only half. Will the state bill them for $250 million? And will that money come back?

Hurt: Yes. The way I understand it is they will pursue 50 percent of the investment. And of course, it will have to go through a legal process to pursue that. But yes, that’s the way I understand it.

Are there other expenses related to this expansion that isn’t covered? For instance, will this mean that Haywood County and the related counties will have more money spent on the construction of public schools, for instance? And is that incorporated in this plan?

Hurt: There’s what they call the term in the legislation was, I believe, a pilot program. And Ford does beginning in year two, which is two years, not this year, but in a year from now, they will begin paying the locals a set amount on a scale over the next 30 years.

And the total they will be paying to the locals, which would be Haywood County, and then part of it lies in Fayette County also with a couple of 100 acres there. So to those local counties, they would pay a total of right at $270 million over the next 30 years.

And that’s in lieu of taxes. So, yeah, they will be obligated to pay to the locals. I think the first couple of payments, it’s own scales for years, two through five. I say two. It begins in a year, which will be their second year into it.

But anyway, a couple of years there’s like, $10.1 million and then it increases to a total of about $270 million over 30 years payment to the locals in lieu of taxes for infrastructure needs just as you’re talking about whether it be roads, schools to handle what’s coming to that area.

Leahy: Will people employed by Ford and the electric battery plant there be required to be members of unions?

Hurt: That will be up to the workers? I think Volkswagen has faced that and voted it down twice, and that was definitely a lot of the discussion this week as we worked it through the committees.

But that will ultimately be up to the workers. And I have faith. We’re a right-to-work state. Of course, we’re trying to get the constitutional amendment completed. And I have faith in Tennessee workers on how they’ll vote on that. So that will be up to them.

Leahy: So on a one to 10 scale, one being not so big, 10 being really big, how big is it that this deal has been done in the special session?

Hurt: I would say a 20. (Laughter) I’d say that because in this electric vehicle space it’s a waste to see who’s first. And Ford started speaking with Governor Lee and ECD and I believe they contacted the state in February for a project like this.

They recorded 14 other states. 15 total. Came back in July and basically wanted to come to Tennessee and started working through the best package they could get from us.

All that being said, once the offer was made, the memorandum of understanding was signed and then they were ready to start. Of course, we had to do the go through the legislative process.

But they’re ready to get going right now because they’re hoping to be in production in two years. So the fact that we could come in a special session, work this through and get support at the legislative level and get all these packages through, it’s huge.

Not only for us here in rural West Tennessee where they’re even talking about up to 30,000 construction jobs over the next two years during the construction of this project but then moving forward to know and to see this come to fruition, the ball, begin rolling this quick and not wait for session and to work it through session and then something to come out of it next spring, it’s big for Ford to know that we appreciate their commitment.

And that we’re moving forward with our end of the obligation. But also to the people here and my constituents and even the constituents all over rural West Tennessee.

And in Shelby County to see that, hey, this is a serious deal, and we’re moving forward and Ford is serious and they’re ready to start moving this project forward is absolutely huge for us. And I say that to say that they’re talking another 20,000 or up to 25,000 jobs in ancillary companies tier two and tier three.

Leahy: So there could be a lot of economic benefits if people buy electric pickups. Right?

Hurt: There you go.

Listen to the second hour here:


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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.


















Nolensville’s Town Manager Victor Lay Talks Growth and Managing Expectations of Blue State Refugees

Nolensville’s Town Manager Victor Lay Talks Growth and Managing Expectations of Blue State Refugees


Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Nolensville, Tennessee Town Manager Victor Lay to the newsmaker line to discuss the consequences of growth and managing expectations of blue state transplants.

Leahy: Our guest on the newsmaker line, town manager Victor Lay. Victor, I know it’s good to do this via the phone, but I’m going to invite you to come in studio sometime. It’s not too far away from Nolensville.

Lay: I would love to take you up on that.

Leahy: We’ll get you in here at a better time (Lay laughs) because only the crazy people show up in person at 5:00 a.m. or thereafter. Let’s talk about all of the challenges facing Nolensville.

By the way, I love Nolensville. It’s a nice quaint little town that’s now in the process of experiencing explosive growth. What are the biggest challenges that you see there Victor Lay?

Lay: One of the biggest challenges, obviously, is the traffic that’s generated by the growth. Nolensville has one major north-south route. That’s Nolensville Road, 31A, 41 A, that’s running right through it.

It’s a two-lane road up until you get into the Metro Davidson area where they’re working on it now to become a four-lane road. That’s the primary challenge for that growth.

Leahy: How do you deal with that? Because it’s currently a two-lane road. And on either side of the road, right next to the road there are houses and there are businesses. That’s a challenge I think.

It’s a little bit like you had on Duplex Road in Spring Hill, right? Which was an old kind of two-lane farm road that’s been widened. But that’s been a lot of work on that one.

Lay: That’s correct. That process started in 2006 and took 14 years roughly to get it to where it was opened as a nice, safe, wide road with good transportation opportunities, multiple transportation opportunities with the sidewalks and bike pass, and things like that.

Nolensville has already started working with TDOT with regard to Nolensville Road. Actually, that process started back in the early 2000s. There are designs out there that TDOT has put together for a bypass around some of the historic areas of Nolensville that you physically cannot widen in.

And so one of the pieces that I’ll be doing over the next few years is really working with TDOT closely to determine the best route and what is a good, viable plan for that north-south traffic.

And it’s not just the north-south traffic, but we’re actually right at the beginning of the process of updating our major thoroughfare plan. And we’re looking at all of our connections – east-west connections, north-south connections – so that we can make sure that as the town grows we are incorporating that growth inside the roadway.

We’re requiring right-of-way dedication so that we have the opportunities to widen those roads and make those connections so that folks have alternative paths as well as the main route.

Leahy: I think you said today you expect that the 2020 census will show that the population of the town of Nolensville, about 10 square miles just south of Nashville, is about 14,000. If we look forward 10 years from today in the 2030 census, what do you think that number will be?

Lay: Good question. If we continue to go through the same type of growth that we’re experiencing today, you’re probably looking easily at another 5,000 people. 3,000 to 5,000, maybe.

And that may even be a very conservative number. It could be closer to seven. So it’s very likely that we’re going to be in that 20,000 range. Somewhere between 20 and 25, I can safely say.

Leahy: Let me ask you this, how many of those new people moving into Nolensville are coming from California?

Lay: There is a significant amount that is coming in from California. We see California, New York, and Illinois. Just a tremendous amount of influx into that area.

Leahy: People from California, New York, and Illinois, do they have trouble adjusting to the way things are done in Tennessee?

Lay: (Chuckles) In some cases, it’s just different. Most of the time what we have found is that they appreciate some of the ways that we do things in Tennessee. It’s not as arduous. It’s not as complex.

As long as we are straightforward and letting them know the process, they generally don’t have too difficult of a time transitioning. It’s when people don’t understand the processes and they feel like that they’re not getting the best answers that usually generate the problems.

Leahy: Have you had any of those experiences since you’ve joined the Nolensville town manager in January?

Lay: Not specifically in Nolensville. To date, I’ve not had anyone that has moved in and said, well, this is the way we did it in our particular state. I experienced that once or twice in Spring Hill.

Leahy: You did? (Laughs) Let me just roll play with you here, Victor. If somebody is coming from, I’m guessing I’ll just say it’s a blue state, right?

Somebody coming from a blue state, do they ever say now, Victor, that’s not the way we did it back in my blue state. Did you have that kind of a question?

Lay: I did have that kind of a question. I have not had it in Nolensville. I did have that statement made in Spring Hill a couple of times.

Leahy: You know what my response, Victor, to that would be? My response would be, well, that’s great. Why don’t you go back to that blue state and leave us alone? Of course, you can’t say that.

Lay: I can’t say that. I don’t say that.

Leahy: But you might think it. (Chuckles)

Lay: I usually try to drill down with them to understand what it is that they have difficulty with or that they think is an error in the way that we are doing business.

Leahy: This is why you are so well suited to that job because you’ve got an understanding of human behavior and you have patience. Victor, thanks so much for joining us today, and come in studio sometime.

Lay: I would love to do that.

Listen to the first hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Nolensville Town Hall” by Skye Marthaler. CC BY-SA 3.0.















Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles Talks Booming Growth Ignited by Manufacturing Industry in the County

Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles Talks Booming Growth Ignited by Manufacturing Industry in the County


Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles in the studio to discuss the current economic growth his county is experiencing due to an influx of manufacturing and supply chain demand.

Leahy: We are joined in studio by the mayor of Maury County, that bastion of economic freedom, the turbocharged engine of economic growth. The mayor, Andy Ogles. Good morning, Andy.

Ogles: Good morning. How are you today?

Leahy: Well, I am delighted to have you in studio here. And, you know, we kind of joke about that little tagline we have for Maury County, except it’s no joke.

It’s actually true. It is the bastion of freedom and the turbocharged engine of economic growth. And I think you have some proof of that to share with us today.

Ogles: Obviously, all you have to do is drive around Spring Hill, Columbia, or even on the Southside down in Mount Pleasant and see the growth.

The Chamber gave an update yesterday at our commission meeting. And when you look at population growth in the state of Tennessee, our growth rate, of course, that’s a per capita number, we’re number one in the state of Tennessee.

We’re also the number one creator of manufacturing jobs in the state of Tennessee. So it’s a crazy time to be mayor of such a growth in the county because that comes with a lot of challenges.

And that’s one of the things that we’re working through now as we pass our budget and get ready for the next school year deciding, do we build a school this year or next year.

Because there’s a borrowing that’s associated with it. But it’s crazy. So it truly is not only a bastion of freedom, but we’re turbocharged. And again, it’s a cool community.

Leahy: One thing I really like about what you just said is you’re a source of new manufacturing jobs. Now, that’s interesting.

In the city of Nashville itself, there has been job growth because companies, tech companies from California come in, and they bring all the people that are associated with tech companies in California. And then financial services companies from New York come in and they bring all the people that work for financial services companies. They don’t always necessarily have the same kind of Tennessee values, right?

Ogles: That’s right.

Leahy: Sometimes. I don’t know when one of the financial services companies came in before they got a bunch of money from the state of Tennessee before they even opened up, they were trying to tell Tennesseeans and what they should do about various social issues. It kind of rubbed me the wrong way that they did that.

Ogles: Well, at the same time, obviously, the state of Tennessee landed a big operation of Facebook here in Middle Tennessee. And so at the same time that Facebook is censoring former President Trump, the state is giving Facebook tens of millions of dollars and incentives. So not necessarily the right fit for our state.

Leahy: Facebook. The guys that are like the big tech oligarchs, the guys that are suppressing the First Amendment. The state of Tennessee is giving them money? Really?

Ogles: Tens of millions of dollars. I saw Marjorie Taylor-Green, the representative out of Georgia. She was just suspended on Twitter for 12 hours or something, but she quoted factual data about COVID and who is at risk.

Leahy: You can’t do that. (Laughs)

Ogles: And she was censored because of it. And I granted it was for 12 hours. But again, it just shows the authority and the power that these tech companies have or have assumed.

And we the people and the government have allowed them to do that. And it’s really this situation now where you have social media companies dictating health care policy, and that’s a scary place.

Leahy: Because nothing says healthcare knowledge like a 24-year tech geek in a basement in Palo Alto, California.

Ogles: Right. You go back to Brave New World or 1984, those books that were science fiction back way back when I read them in school.

And it’s all coming to fruition. So we’re in an interesting place. But going back, Maury County is known for its automotive base.

Leahy: General Motors and Saturn way back when in 1990, I guess Saturn moved to Maury County.

Ogles: In the mid-late 80s that plan came to fruition, was announced. And of course, they had to implement it, but also automotive related.

And a lot of people don’t realize this. And so LG Chem, which is a South Korean company, partnered with General Motors. They’ve created a battery brand that will be a supplier to most of the other car manufacturers.

So again, you have General Motors, who will be one of the drivers of battery technology as you go into the future because they have such a large market share.

And this battery plant that we built in Maury County, it’s sized to be built, currently has more capacity than all the other battery manufacturers in North America.

And that puts the EV or electric vehicle technology – the center of that universe is in Middle Tennessee, specifically Maury County. So now we have this – General Motors expanding.

We have this new $2.3 billion plant with the LG Chem. And with that will come technology and RND and all that sort of stuff to Middle Tennessee.

So it’s exciting. And you’re seeing a shift in that space not only for Tennessee but for Maury County.

Leahy: And the other thing about – that is I found out that apparently, if you have sort of a supply chain, shall we say, for automotive parts and automotive assembly, which is what we have here in Middle Tennessee, there are other industries that use those same skills like firearm manufacturers, from what I hear.

Ogles: Because as you’re building out your infrastructure and supply chain, which that’s an important part of that and distribution capabilities, any industry that needs those types of services like trucking, et cetera, they can piggyback off of one another.

And so with that again, Maury County, known for its automotive and manufacturing jobs, are now creating a new layer of distribution for Middle Tennessee.

Leahy: This means more economic growth in Maury County and Middle Tennessee.

Listen to the full second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.













Crom Carmichael Weighs in on Oracle Move and Middle Tennessee’s Real Estate Quandary

Crom Carmichael Weighs in on Oracle Move and Middle Tennessee’s Real Estate Quandary


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio who weighed in on the recent announcement of Oracle’s big move to Nashville’s East Bank and a harried Tennessee real estate market.

Leahy: In studio the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael. Crom, big news last night. This is from WSMV. Oracle is coming to Nashville, the big software company. Big big software company after the Metro Council approved plans to install the new headquarters in Music City. Tuesday night in a unanimous vote, City Council has approved Oracle’s bid that they presented to the Metro Finance Committee on Monday night, where they promised to bring 8,500 jobs to the city within a decade.

After the Metro Council passive vote, Mayor John Cooper expressed his optimism for the project, calling it, “the largest private investment and largest job creation deal in our history.” Oracle, Crom, looks to install a bridge over the Cumberland River as access to their new facility. The bridge still requires two more rounds of voting by the City Council, but past its initial round of voting on Tuesday night. Crom?

Carmichael: Well, given our city-state of finances, that’s a bridge over troubled waters.

Leahy: Ohhh, that Crom, Crom.

Carmichael: Kaboom.

Leahy: That’s very good Crom. People don’t realize. (Laughter) People don’t really people don’t know this, but Crom used to be a standup comedian, and that just shows his capabilities there. It’s still funny. (Laughs)

Carmichael: Thank you. I have a friend of mine who’s in real estate that sends me a column that comes from The Tennessee Ledger. And this is a writer who writes about Tennessee real estate. And he will generally pick a particular house that has sold, and then he’ll build his story around it on what’s going on in Nashville.

Leahy: So he’ll go into one of the neighborhoods and say a house in this neighborhood sold.

Carmichael: A particular house. You’re looking at a particular house here. This one is at 1104 Lenore Street. That house sold. Now it went on the market. This is instructive. It went on the market for $750,000. It sold for $950,000 and $175,000 above the asking price.

Leahy: Wow.

Carmichael: This same house in 2018 sold for $194,000. It was gutted and fixed up.

Leahy: Somebody made some money.

Carmichael: But then that house after it was gutted and rebuilt, it then sold for $550,000. So that $550,000 converted into $950,000.

This is $440 a foot, $440 a foot! Right now in Nashville, and these numbers may be slightly off because they’re one month old, but only slightly. There were 2,500 single-family residences on the market at the end of March. There were 200 single-family homes that closed in March. There’s a three-week supply.

Leahy: Wow.

Carmichael: Now a seller’s market is 60 days of supply. A three-week supply, if a house goes on the market, it sells almost immediately. A typical Realtor will have nine buyers for every listing. For every listing, then they have nine buyers. And so if you’re listing a house, you say I am scheduling appointments every 15 minutes, (Leahy chuckles) and I’m doing it over these two days. And then I will be accepting offers, and the negotiations will then begin.

Leahy: It’s not just in Nashville, it’s in Williamson County. All around Middle Tennessee.

Carmichael: Yes. All around Middle Tennessee. Now, there are some areas where there’s still lots of land where you can build new developments, but the cost of the dirt in those areas, is what is going up, the cost of buying the land. But it’s really interesting to see what is going on in Nashville with the growth. Now I was down in Naples, Florida.

Leahy: In Florida.

Carmichael: Yes. Naples, Florida, is very similar. It used to be that you drive down a highway called 41, which is a six-lane wide highway. And then if you went inland on one Street, it was four lanes. Now if you go inland one street it was four lanes. Now you go inland four or five streets before you get to two-lane highways.

So Naples is growing East. It’s also growing North, but it’s growing East inland at an incredible rate. And so when you have that and in Nashville, the difference is in Naples, they’re able to build the infrastructure. They’re able to widen the roads because as they’re moving inland these are two-lane roads and the development hasn’t happened yet. Nashville is already developed. Now Oracle I think, is locating on the East Bank.

Leahy: I think that’s correct. Of the Cumberland Yes.

Carmichael: And so they’re going to build the bridge.

Leahy: The bridge over troubled waters. (Laughter)

Carmichael: But what this is going to do to East Nashville…

Leahy: Boom. And East Nashville has been re gentrifying over the last five or six years. But this will even accelerate that pace.

Leahy: Now the story at WSMV, Oracle promised to bring wait for it…8,500 jobs to the city within a decade. It’s a big company. What’s that going to do to the real estate market in Middle Tennessee?

Carmichael: Well, the real estate market in Tennessee is going to stay red hot until you get the supply of houses back up to 90 days. This means there will have to be nine to 10 single-family homes on the market available to buy. And I don’t see that happening anytime soon because building 3,000 homes a month is a lot of homes to be built. And all that does is keep you at the three-week supply. So you’ve got to get up to where you’re building 5,000 homes a month. I’ve been here since 1967 and I’ve never seen anything like that.

Leahy: Nothing like this.

Carmichael: Nothing like this.

Leahy: Here’s the other part about this, which is interesting. There are two elements to talk about. First, the underlying economics of migration within the United States. I see that trend continuing away from high tax blue states to really the three leading no state income tax states in the country. Texas, Florida, and Tennessee.

Carmichael: Private schools are getting 15 to 20 inquiries a week from just people moving here from California. That’s just from one state. There are all kinds of issues that are being created because it takes a while to plan and build a new school or even to do a major expansion of an existing school. And most private schools don’t want to have more than 100 or maybe 120 per class.

Leahy: It’s hard to make them fit together.

Carmichael: The private schools want to keep themselves small enough so that they are meeting the needs of each child which is my big beef with the government-run schools because there’s no reason that a government-run school ought to have 1,500 or 2,000 students in high school. There’s no reason for that. It’s just that way because that’s how the system likes it.

Leahy: The other issue I want to chat with you about that comes along with this huge growth, the huge increase in home prices and real estate prices in Middle Tennessee is for people who have lived in Tennessee all their lives and who perhaps are not homeowners, they’re being priced out of the market.

Carmichael: Yes. And that’s what I’m saying. That’s one of the examples. There are three or four. There are three or four pressure points that are going on. One is the demand for private school education exploding. And the number of private schools is not. And so there’s a huge imbalance there than what you just brought up.

If you don’t own a home, and if you don’t have $50,000 in cash, maybe even $100,000 in cash to put down on a house because they’re still requiring 20 percent down on most houses unless it’s an FHA-type thing. And even those, it’s almost impossible to get the mortgage if you don’t make a substantial down payment.

Leahy: And this does lead to, I think, resentment towards newcomers who have more cash because they live in states where they can sell their houses for very high prices. They come here and even with this increase, they’re able to pocket some money from the sale of the house in California.

Carmichael: If it was a really expensive house in California. But the trick is selling expensive houses in California now is finding buyers who buy an expensive house in California because California is losing a congressional seat.

Leahy: I’m so sad about that too by the way.

Carmichael: It’s the first time. It’s the first time, I think ever.

Leahy: I think you’re right.

Carmichael: It’s shrinking.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.