Rutherford County has grown exponentially each decade since 1980, yet our transportation infrastructure has not grown to meet the need. Comprehensive efforts must be taken to create new transportation options, emphasizing a commuting culture. If we cannot change that culture, we must attract new, higher paying, white collar jobs into our district and Rutherford County.
Having worked in Corporate America, non-profits, healthcare, education, union and non-union shops, technology, sales and manufacturing, I have a varied and vast understanding of what makes the county run. That engine is good old hard work. With unemployment of 4.4%, Rutherford County is in an economic bubble and frequently does not experience the difficulties even other counties in our state feel.
When we moved here in 1999, our family located on the west side of Murfreesboro - before St. Andrews extended to Hwy 99, before Scales Elementary existed, when the population was about 62,000. Today, Murfreesboro, Tennessee is the 13th fastest growing city in the United States. My husband and I commute regularly on I-24 and I-65 -- depending on which one will get us to our jobs faster -- and understand the daily challenge these roadways present.
Many of my family have had the opportunity to work at one of the largest manufacturing facilities in Murfreesboro but our positions were either contract or temporary labor (until very recently). Often, these jobs pay less than a full-time position with a company, making it difficult for individuals to make ends meet.
A low unemployment rate coupled with fast growth and a job market that is filled with temporary or contract labor makes it difficult for both employers and job seekers. The employers have difficult finding the number of employees they need. Job seekers are frequently frustrated by the low wages offered in the county, which takes them to Nashville and beyond to find wages that will fit their needs. As legislators we need to work together with our community and business leaders to bring more higher-paying jobs into the community.
I am intrigued by Senator Ketron's plan to increase public transportation options from Rutherford County to Nashville. However, there must be extensive work done to support a commuting culture and provide options for transportation at the "end of the line" in Nashville. I will work hard with business leaders and regional authorities to improve transportation options.
The decline of the middle class can be incrementally tied to the decline (and vilification) of labor unions. The idea that "businesses create jobs" is a false narrative - consumers have a need and businesses fill that need. Labor unions can increase and have increased the quality of wages, benefits and the labor force itself when the triad of business-labor-consumer is honored. I will work with both labor and business to bridge the divide that has long been emphasized by the radical right.
Paid for by Friends of Laura Bohling, Lillian McNeil, Treasurer