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VIProfile: Patrick Cammack

Senior Vice President of Economic Development | Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce

By Lee Rennick

Patrick Cammack has been working as the Senior Vice President of Economic Development at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce (RCCC) for six years, and he and his family have lived in the county for nine years. 

He grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. After high school, he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and a master’s degree in urban planning from New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and a graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee. 

He lived in Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York City collectively for 15 years before relocating to Tennessee to start a family. 

“My wife is a professor of neuroscience and psychology at Sewanee,” said Cammack, and we have two boys in [Rutherford County’s] great public-school system.” 

Previous to joining RCCC, he was the director of economic development at Williamson, Inc. He has also done economic development for the State of Tennessee, and he spent 10 years working in the public and private sector in New York City. He is happy to be in Rutherford County.

Rutherford County has been growing pretty close to two percent per year for almost 30 years, with a long history of strong community leadership. While challenges and strategies in a community change over time, Cammack says that often top priorities stay the same. 

“These priorities include insuring that the strong educational ecosystem, safety and a high quality of life will always be here for residents,” added Cammack. “I’m thankful that our leaders remain focused on those key priorities despite changing dynamics. One current example is how our city leaders are influencing land use with their focus on mixed-use developments and infill opportunities, which will increase quality of life through more walkability, higher-end retail and quality of life.”

Planned growth is a priority in the county, with research estimating that about 83 people per day are still moving into the Nashville MSA. To handle this massive growth in Rutherford County, the county and especially Murfreesboro, are rising to handle it. For almost 10 years, the county has grown by more people annually than any county in Tennessee. 

“No community could absorb that growth without growing pains,” noted Cammack. “So, our cities are doing a lot to plan for the future. For example, many people do not realize Murfreesboro is the most active road builder in Tennessee after Tennessee Department of Transportation. Smyrna’s Jefferson Pike widening project is a four-mile, three-year project that will open up over 1,000 acres of land for new residents and businesses, while increasing safety for drivers. There are more examples of both major infrastructure and school investments in La Vergne, Eagleville and throughout our county.”

Now in its fifth incarnation, Destination Rutherford (DR) was started about 20 years ago as a public private partnership that enables the Chamber to attract jobs and investment to Rutherford County, especially in workforce and economic development. 

“DR enables us to market our community externally, support our existing businesses and effectively manage business recruitment projects. Economic development is a team effort with many partners such as the State of Tennessee, Tennessee Valley Authority, Middle Tennessee Electric, our local municipalities and many others. DR enables us to perform the local piece of the ‘economic development pie.’”  

While focusing on bringing new business to the area is important, it is also important to help businesses that are already in the area. This mission is critical for the county. Even though new business announcements receive a lot of attention, most job and investment growth come from existing companies. 

“We spend a lot of time with our existing employers so that we understand what’s happening in their industry and ensure we are maintaining a great business environment for them,” said Cammack. “Probably our most valuable existing business strategy is our workforce councils (led by my colleague Greg Jones), which brings academic and industry leaders together to develop skills and credentials that our businesses need today and will need in the future.” 

Many current economic development concerns are related to real estate. Rising housing prices with higher interest rates have made it very challenging for first-time homebuyers to purchase a home, which has become a workforce development issue. At the same time, many relocating families moving to the area are coming from a higher priced market, and they are still finding homes relatively affordable for them.

“The lack of available real estate (in particular industrial land and new class A office buildings) and a tight workforce in the skilled trades are probably the biggest concerns for our existing and prospective companies,” explained Cammack. “That being said, every desirable, growing community that we compete with has a tight workforce. We hear from our prospective clients that we still have a great workforce story here, despite a low unemployment rate. As far as strengths, Rutherford County has a great value proposition with our strong educational ecosystem, safety and a high quality of life – all at a reasonable cost of living. We have to make sure we maintain those attributes.”

A big part of Cammack’s work is being a partner with elected officials and municipal staff. He and his colleagues have standing meetings with all local communities so they can best understand how they can support the many different community’s visions. 

“The variety in our different municipalities is one of our strongest community assets, and it makes this job so much fun,” said Cammack. “Although not always mentioned with Murfreesboro, Smyrna and LaVergne; Eagleville is such a gem and has great leadership in City Manager Hellyn Riggins and Mayor Chad Leeman.”

Cammack notes that every resident and business organization is part of the economic development effort in Rutherford County.

“Whether you hire an employee in your small business, support a nonprofit, recruit a family member to move here, invite a new resident to a coffee or share a positive message about our community – it all helps make our community stronger.” 

He feels extremely fortunate to have found a community that is passionate about increasing prosperity for its residents, committed to its local businesses and very welcoming to companies and people moving here. 

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