Clarksville-Montgomery County is in the middle of an economic boom like never before, bringing exceptional success stories right along with it. In the past few years we have welcomed Hankook, Google and LG to the neighborhood; began the much asked for commercial development along Madison Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, and both residential and commercial growth in the Exit 1 area is like no one 20 years ago could have ever predicted.
We are a young, patriotic community with an amazing school system, a rich history and a strong workforce. I get to tell our story every day and hear the stories of other communities - Home to a base full of heroes, we have an economy and workforce engine others around the Nation are in awe of. For these reasons and many others, we continue to rank exceptionally high in national publications and there are more accolades to come.
Next month is the four-year anniversary of the Montgomery County Commission voting 14-7 in favor of an interlocal agreement with the City of Clarksville to build the Downtown Commons. We must take note; this was a pivotal moment in the resurgence of not only our downtown area but our entire community. And we must remember The Downtown Commons ribbon cutting was a mere 16 months ago, still in its infancy most are just learning all it has to offer.
All you have to do is take a short stroll around downtown to see how far we have come in just a few short years. Yada Yada is expanding into a larger location, Strawberry Alley Ale Works has changed the landscape of Strawberry Alley, Hot Pita has lunch lines out the door, Edward’s continues its tradition of quality food with a great atmosphere, Roux has brought amazing Cajun food to Clarksville and The Blackhorse continues to grow loyal followers. Local artistry is expanding; Journey’s Eye is leaving artistic fingerprints all over our community, The Roxy theater is putting out Broadway quality shows, we have added at least two murals to our landscape and the City is moving forward with plans for an amazing performing arts facility. Mildred and Mable’s continues to be a downtown anchor while at the same time incubating other small businesses, and many home-grown businesses have joined the downtown scene such as Hey Noli, Copper Petal, & Vinyl, Humble Universe, Couture Crush, Horsefeathers, Isabella Sophia and Rogates Boutique. True innovation is flourishing.
It is unmistakable that local business owners are embracing the prosperity and taking the lead Downtown. Revitalization can be seen everywhere. The food scene is booming, public art is around every corner, and there is a wealth of one-of-a-kind local shopping and family activities to be found.
Currently community leaders and business owners alike, not only have our foot on the gas pedal, but we are pushing it through the floor. The time to “make hay” is right now and we must act swiftly. As a community we have historically championed opportunities for our residents, and we must take the next leap to continue our momentum by moving forward with plans for the Multi-purpose Events Center (MPEC). Everything listed above, may or may not have taken place organically without public help, but all you have to do is look at how stagnant downtown was for the 15 years following the tornado of '99 and what has developed in the five years since our local governments decided to get involved and foster growth.
It’s impossible to deny that with growth comes a certain level of frustration and we must manage it properly, but I promise you the alternative is worse. People are on the move from high tax states at a rapid pace; if we don’t have the amenities they desire they will choose to locate elsewhere, taking their families and disposable income with them. It takes vision and foresight for a community to thrive. APSU President, Dr. Alisa White said it best when I first met her years ago; “transformation occurs when the potential that is visible to some becomes visible to all”. I hope that Clarksville-Montgomery County’s amazing future is visible to you.