Case Study: Business Growth in Gallatin, TN
Gallatin is a city located in Sumner County, Tennessee,. As of the 2020 census, the population of Gallatin was estimated to be around 41,000 people, making it one of the larger cities in the Nashville metropolitan area.
Today, the city is known for its historic downtown district, which is home to a number of locally-owned shops, restaurants and other small businesses. In addition, the city hosts a number of community events throughout the year, including the Sumner County Fair, the Main Street Festival and the Christmas Parade.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Lilibeth Leon, the Existing Industry Manager in Gallatin, Tennessee where growth has exploded in greater Nashville in the last ten years. Below she shares how Bludot has helped their Economic Development Agency to attract and promote jobs and talent to their community.
What is your role and how long have you been with the city?
Lilibeth: I have been with the EDA for six months, I serve as the existing industry manager. Anything that has to do with business retention and expansion and supporting our existing industries here and workforce initiatives. We are a team of three, Rosemary is the special projects manager and James is the agency's director. James leads recruitment and potential expansions and Rosemary works on numerous projects that the city is involved with.
I know your community and region has experienced a lot of growth, What is Gallatin known for?
Lilibeth: Greater Nashville has seen a lot of success throughout the last ten years and we have about 50,000 people in our city. Our population in the last ten years has seen 66% growth. We work with between 80-90 companies that we work with that are our larger distributors and manufacturers which is what our agency focuses on.
What goals was your team trying to achieve when it came to Bludot?
Lilibeth: We have been using Bludot for four months now and it’s such a fantastic tool. Before using Bludot, we were using Sharepoint and Excel files. It was difficult to share files and information with each other and keep each other updated. So this has helped us provide a lot more transparency amongst our team and insight to our business community.
When you decided to switch to Bludot, what were the main goals your team was trying to achieve?
Lilibeth: The person who was in my position prior to me was really doing the research and found Bludot. We loved that this CRM was specifically built for Economic Development teams, as what we do is much more relationship building than what typical sales CRMs offer.
The visibility and transparency of Bludot to be able to sync your email and collaborate, with me being a new team member, it was so helpful to read the history of relationships and see where things were left off and what each of these businesses had going on which really helped me as I ramped up in my role. Being able to see new activity on business profiles is really helpful to read the new updates and keep everyone in the loop.
I would love to hear a little more about when you login to Bludot, what features benefit your team the most.
Lilibeth: I always keep Bludot open on my computer and use it multiple times a day, I read new updates on business activity and throughout the day, if we have a phone call or meeting, I update each profile with that activity.
James and I also use the project tool very heavily, he tracks all potential businesses coming to Gallatin or property we are interested in acquiring. I am mainly tracking events such as a marketing video or a luncheon but we both found a lot of great use out of it. We’ve been using the survey tool as an invitation RSVP link which worked fantastic and we will continue to do.
Can you tell us more about initiatives that have been successful for your EDA to improve your relationship with business owners?
Lilibeth: We just went through our strategic plan a couple weeks ago to see what has been successful and plan out what new things or projects we would continue to do. One of the things we’ve been focusing on is our target markets which is recruiting amenities for the city - we want to bring in amenities that are attractive for the employees of our other industries we are focusing on bringing to Gallatin. We are working on how we can tell our story better as a collective, so that everyone is up to date on what we’re working on and being able to share our impact with the data and charts from Bludot and sharing survey responses that we’ve gotten from our business partners.
I know you’ve added some custom labels such as community partners, industry partners, and potential expansions. Could you talk a little more about how you use these for outreach?
Lilibeth: We created these different labels because it has saved us a ton of time to be able to segment out the different partners that assist the work that we do. When we email surveys out, we can choose to pick a label like community partners to reach out to that group. Also, with any incentives, it's easy to segment the potential expansions group to let them know all the resources we have.
Can you talk a little more about how Facebook chose Gallatin to move their Data Centers into your community?
Lilibeth: I wasn’t with the agency when the decision was made, but we are in the Tennessee Valley Authority Region and it was important for Facebook to have their energy provided through a renewable resource, which TVA allows for.
We are a really business friendly city and having the Economic Development Agency within the city to assist potential businesses can help companies move along quickly and efficiently to choose their expansion projects. We really care about getting great jobs into our communities and that we also have the workforce to be able to support business success.
What initiatives is the EDA going to be working on in the upcoming year?
Lilibeth: Attainable housing is definitely one of them but that is a problem everyone's dealing with. We want to get the ball rolling on starting a committee to start the conversation with community partners.
The city does not have any land right now that we own, and it's easier to control what companies come into your community if you have a piece of land that you own that you can sell for them to develop on.
Another thing is to tell our story better. Bludot is really going to help us a lot with that because a lot of our work is not super quantifiable but the charts you provide make it a lot easier to visually see what we're accomplishing like how many jobs we created or that we helped bring in x amount of businesses.
Our target market continues to be the tech industry. We're also going to take a lot more advantage of our local schools such as Volunteer State Community College has the number one IT program in the country so we want to continue to build off that partnership and keep that talent local by attracting great jobs to our community.
To learn about how Bludot can help your community’s business retention and expansion, schedule a call here.