The following statement can be attributed to Stand Up Nashville:
We’re glad to have answers to the 20 questions we posed to Metro Government relating to the proposed deal with Oracle. It is important to understand that Stand Up Nashville was created to change the way Nashville does business, and specifically to change the way development happens in this city. Our goal is to put people in the center of the process so that development can be a tool to break cycles of systemic poverty and racism, not compound them.
Through our work around economic incentives and the Do Better law, we’ve helped to create a more transparent process of economic development deals. Following the lead of the Do Better Law, the Metro Council created a committee to conduct a thorough review of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) that led to reforms of that program. The version of TIF used in the proposed Oracle deal is much better than TIF deals of the past. But that doesn’t mean our work is finished. The fundamental questions we have asked are about how much community feedback informed the investment decisions.
Sure, it is great that Oracle is willing to invest capital up front that they will have paid back, but who decided how those funds would be used? After hearing the Oracle presentation at Metro Council, it seems clear the choices were made by Oracle. While the public will have access to these things (greespace, pedestrian bridge), which is great, the public did not decide those things were the priority. Overwhelmingly, we hear from our communities that housing and economic inequality are the priority.
What is clear from the responses is that we don’t know how many jobs will be filled by Nashville residents. We also don’t know if the construction project run by Oracle will use high road contractors that pay fair wages and maintain safe working conditions. Finally, we know that there is no housing directly being created from this large investment and there is no specific plan to ensure this project does not amplify the problems of gentrification.
What the answers to our questions tell us is that while it is good that Oracle wants to be in Nashville, and this deal is better than deals of the past, it was not a community driven process and we can still improve the way our city operates. We can be more transparent and we can take more initiative to engage our people in important decisions. Stand Up Nashville will continue to push our city leaders to do better, monitor this project, and engage marginalized communities in future projects