A Chamber-led collaboration connecting talent and economic development

Led by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Talent Hub leverages their employer and higher education partnerships to improve talent development systems for stronger alignment with the region’s economic development plans.  More than 100,000 students are enrolled in higher education in the Nashville area – not including the thousands enrolled in high-quality workforce development programs – making Nashville the largest concentration of students in a four-state region.   60% of these graduates are retained annually in the region, fulfilling employer demands for industry of today and tomorrow.

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Stephanie Coleman
Chief Talent Development Officer
Shanna Jackson
President, Nashville State Community College
Jennifer Mills McFerron
Vice President of Education and Talent Development
Sandra Timberlake
Reconnect Navigator
Shohreh Daraei
Director of Education and Talent Development



Providing reconnect services at scale.

Nashville’s Reconnect program – a suite of services that help people get back on a path towards credential completion – serves as a national exemplar.  Many states and communities have modeled their own reconnect programs based on Nashville’s success.  Prior to the pandemic, Nashville’s Reconnect Navigators were serving over 300 people per week at their Reconnect Cafes, helping thousands of people re-enroll in higher education.

Mitigating the benefits cliff

Focused on Nashville’s designated Promise Zone, the Nashville Talent Hub convened leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sector to re-examine the barriers adults face when enrolling in workforce and higher education programs.  Taking the lessons learned from these listening tours, city leaders have shifted resources, altered policies, and reallocated supports ranging from public bus routes to high-quality childcare.  The group continues to meet to ensure that when individuals complete a postsecondary credential and earn higher wages, that they do not fall off the benefits cliff and lose critical social supports.

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Connecting workforce and education to Talent Solution Councils

Leveraing their position as the region’s chamber of commerce, the Nashville Talent Hub makes strategic connections among employer-driven talent councils, postsecondary providers, and community organizations.  The Chamber convenes five Talent Solutions Councils:

  • Health and Patient Care
  • Information Technology (IT)
  • Hospitality/Culinary
  • Advanced Manufacture
  • Construction/Maintenance

Over sixty employers engaged in these councils, using a supply chain approach to determine the region’s talent needs then organizing the work and learn ecosystem to support talent development towards these high-wage jobs.  Community-based organizations use the outcomes from the councils to plan their own workforce training programs, creating an aligned education and training pathway with postsecondary programs in high-wage/high-growth sectors.

Key Initiatives

Nashville Reconnect

The Nashville Talent Hub hosts two Reconnect Navigators at two Reconnect Cafes located throughout the community to provide adults with the services and support they need to enroll or re-enroll in workforce and higher education programs.  Serving as a national model for successful implementation of reconnect services, Nashville’s reconnect program supports over 300 students per week.

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Beyond Talent Pipeline Management

As the lead facilitator of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management model, the Nashville Chamber goes beyond identifying workforce needs and building talent pipelines.  Strategically connecting their five talent councils and employer networks to their workforce, higher education, and community partners, the Nashville Talent Hub pursues system-level policy and practice change to ensure the entire work and learn ecosystem functions in harmony.

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Office of the Mayor
Public Sector Leadership
Tennessee College of Applied Technology
Postsecondary Provider
United Way of Greater Nashville
Co-Convener & Service Provider
Tennessee Board of Regents
Higher Education
Nashville Career Advancement Center