The morning I arrived at the former Nashville Trolley Barns turned incubator offices and trendy eateries, I counted six cranes on the city skyline. Nashville is a happening place. It’s cool, it’s growing, and it has a vibe of urban sustainability. Those things do not occur only by chance. Urban vitality is a cocktail of planning, implementation, and good fortune.
Nashville has long been a music mecca, but these days it’s more. A decade ago, the Nashville Chamber of Commerce did a study of the area and decided to emphasize entrepreneurship. In 2010 they spearheaded NEC (Nashville Entrepreneurial Center).
Jeremy Raley is the membership chair. He explained NEC’s premise to me while also staffing the reception desk. Multi-tasking is key to the place.
“Let’s say you have an idea for a new kind of blanket. You join NEC. You’ll get help from people in the retail space and the financial space. Advisors are local volunteers who come in three categories: start-up operations, industry expertise, and service providers, like attorneys and developers.” NEC currently has about 800 members. Memberships begin at $50 per month. Members get two sessions a month with the more than two hundred advisors to the center. They get co-working space, office support, and access to meeting rooms. “People use this as their office address. Individuals come in and ask for so-and-so, as if it’s their actual office.”
At question time, Chris Keshian, an NEC intern, joined the conversation.
How will we live tomorrow?
“We are not very far from a future of self-driving cars powered by electricity, drones that will deliver our goods. It’s going to extend to building construction, framing, there will be Internet connectivity of everything. When a window breaks, a drone will be called up to repair it. I also see a profound shift from oil to solar energy to nuclear fission.
“Augmented reality will come to the fore in a big way. That will be detrimental to humans. We already watch six hours of TV a day. We will lose our sense of community.” – Chris
“We will create a new form of community. We’ll play video games that are so real they will become our reality. I did an Oculus AR demo. I was so into it and could not be distracted because I was totally in it.
“Technology is both great and terrible.” – Jeremy
“I also think AI is not too far in the future. We will be unable to differentiate the human from the machine. The machine has access to everything simultaneously. It will have immediate response. I’m excited about what is happening.” -Chris