NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Oracle Corporation plans to bring 8,500 jobs and a $1.2 billion investment to fast-growing Nashville over the coming decade, a deal Mayor John Cooper's office announced Wednesday as unprecedented in the history of Tennessee economic development projects.
Cooper's office said the Austin, Texas-based computer technology company requested a public hearing for its economic impact plan with the Metro Industrial Development Board. That board and the Metro Council would need to finalize the deal. According to documents provided by Cooper's office, the project would create 2,500 jobs in Nashville by the end of 2027, reaching the full 8,500 by the end of 2031, with an average salary of $110,000.
Oracle's plans for a campus with 1.2 million square feet (nearly 111,500 square meters) of office space along the East Bank of the Cumberland River would surpass those of Amazon, which in 2018 announced it would bring 5,000 jobs through a $230 million investment in a new operations hub in Nashville.
“We are thrilled that Oracle is ready to make a billion-dollar bet on Nashville,” Cooper said in a news release. “Oracle will bring a record number of high-paying jobs to Nashville and they will pay upfront all the city’s infrastructure costs. This is a huge win for our city."
Oracle plans to buy the land and offer $175 million upfront for public infrastructure, including a pedestrian bridge over the Cumberland River, environmental cleanup, a sewer pump station and a riverfront park, the mayor's office said.
Half of Oracle's future property taxes — which the company estimates will be roughly $18 million annually when the project is fully built — would reimburse the company for the upfront investment, without interest payments, with the other half going into the city's general operating fund, Cooper's office said.
The company also expects the project to produce about $8.8 million annually in local sales and use taxes, according to the mayor's office.
In a statement, Oracle said it's meeting demand for its cloud product by building “new digital hubs in cities with well-educated workforces and vibrant cultures that draw top-tier talent.”
"We think Nashville has tremendous potential to be Oracle’s next success, and we look forward to working with city and state officials as the process moves forward,” the company said.
The city's proposal even drew praise from The Beacon Center of Tennessee, a free-market thinktank that has long scrutinized Nashville's approach to economic incentive deals.
“Based on initial reports of the deal’s structure, we applaud the mayor for doing things differently and in a way that does not cost taxpayers money," Beacon Center CEO Justin Owen said in a statement.
State officials have not yet said how much they expect to contribute to the deal.
The announcement shows the Democratic-leaning capital city remains in high demand for companies, even as Republicans leading the state continue to move bills on divisive social issues that have faced corporate opposition, including ones that target the LGBT community.
In recent years, a number of high-profile companies, including Amazon, have penned letters of opposition to Tennessee bills that center on LGBT people. Some ultimately became law, including this year's ban on transgender athletes in public middle school and high school sports.
Joe Woolley, CEO of Nashville’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce, said his group looks forward to working with Oracle on diversity and inclusion initiatives, noting the company's perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Equality Index.