Sustainable Growth and Economic Prosperity

Sub-Theme: Franklin will pursue growth and development that embraces its historic context and encourages revenue generation.

Franklin has a heritage of economic stability, defying many of the struggles faced in other communities and the nation. This heritage is a result of a dedication to sustainable growth through thoughtful public policy decisions and well‐managed developments. The community values the diversity of high‐quality and high-worth places – the mix of suburban and downtown shopping districts that serve the community’s needs and are magnets for out‐of‐town visitors; a vibrant corporate and office environment that is the home to industry‐leading businesses of all sizes; well‐designed and maintained parks and recreational gathering places that also focus on historical, cultural, or natural attributes; and opportunities to pursue a wide range of activities without leaving the community.

City leaders also understand the importance of having a self‐sustaining economic engine that through collaboration and partnership with both private and public entities supports efforts that attract, retain, and create quality jobs to ensure a diverse economic base, a resilient and growing tax base, and thriving neighborhoods.

There are six goals under this sub-theme:

Opportunities for increasing tourism experiences

Goal: To increase tourist visits to Franklin & Williamson County.

Tourism is an important part of the Franklin economy. Not only does it contribute millions of dollars annually in receipts from hotel/motel taxes (see below for more information), but it employs hundreds of individuals in hotels, restaurants, shops and historic sites. Tens of thousands of people annually come to Franklin to see all the amenities that our community has to offer. They learn about our past, enjoy our present, and eat, shop and relax while thinking out their and our future.

Overall visitors to Franklin & Williamson County have increased steadily since 2012. As of 2019, over 1.81 million visitors came to our region. The Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau has set a goal of 2 million tourists annually by 2020. This goal will likely not be achieved do the calamitous effects on tourism caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Baseline: Overall tourist visits in Williamson County as tracked by Williamson County Convention & Visitor's Bureau annually.

Goal: To increase private investment in Franklin’s Historic Area.

Historic Preservation is one of the priorities identified by the City of Franklin in Franklin’s Land Use Plan and in the Central Franklin Area Plan. The preservation of the city’s historic character has proven to be of great economic benefit to Franklin. Franklin is a Preserve America Community and a Great American Main Street Community. Its Main Street has been named one of the Top 5 “Most Romantic” in the United States, and the American Planning Association has named Downtown Franklin Neighborhood one of the Great Places in America. Franklin has also been recognized as one of the 1000 Places to See in the US and Canada Before You Die.” The reason given is that Franklin is a well-preserved southern town.

Certificates of Appropriateness are permits issued to individuals who wish to redevelop/maintain/improve properties within a Historic District of the City of Franklin. The key to the sustenance of any community is continued private investment and maintenance. We are proud to say that more than $136.7 million of investment has been made in our historic areas over the last seven fiscal years.

Baseline: Franklin issued 46 Certificates of Appropriateness for construction in 2012 (Planning and Sustainability).

Baseline: The value of investment dollars from COA’s for 2012 was $7,565,260 (This number only reflects the valuations associated with the permits that been pulled as of this date and not projects without application for building permits. (Planning and Sustainability)

Goal: To increase the number of participants in conventions, conferences, and meetings in the Conference Center

The Cool Springs Conference Center is the centerpiece of Franklin’s initiative to encourage tourism. In 1996, the City joined Williamson County government in developing a jointly-owned conference venue in cooperation with an independently-owned 300-room Marriott hotel. The Conference Center attracts small to mid-size conventions, association conferences, and meetings of commercial and non-profit organizations from all over the state.

In order to handle more volume and attract larger groups, the City of Franklin continues to improve the infrastructure in the Cool Springs area by widening Cool Springs Boulevard and extending Carothers Parkway, adding turn lanes and traffic controls, intelligent transportation systems, and improved lighting.

The City also reinvests one-fourth of its hotel tax proceeds in the Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau. The balance of the hotel tax is invested in enhancements to parks and recreational facilities that attract sports tournaments that often include over 100 teams in a single weekend.

We are currently working with the management of the Conference Center to track the attendance at meetings and conferences. More information will be forthcoming soon.

Baseline: [Need 2012 fiscal year data on number of participants or equivalent proxy]

Opportunities for revenue enhancements through tourism and sales revenues.

Goal: To increase the revenue generated from Hotel/Motel taxes.

The City of Franklin charges a tax for all occupancies of rooms at hotels and motels. The tax rate for the City is 4%. Taxes raised go into a special revenue fund which pays debt service on the Cool Springs Conference Center and the Harlinsdale and Battlefield parks. Also, the funds are used for tourism. The budget includes 1% of the 4% tax (based on collections in calendar year 2013) to support the Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Receipts in the hotel/motel fund have largely met or exceeded expectations as the chart below demonstrates. Only in FY 2009 - at the peak of the recession - did hotel/motel tax receipts dip until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. Strong growth has been witnessed every year of the last decade, with annual increases ranging between $250,000 and $500,000. Given the devastating impacts on the tourism industry as a result of COVID-19, the City witnessed a 25% drop in collections in FY 2020, and has revised revenue forecasts down 50% for FY 2021. It will likely be years before collection rates return to pre-COVID-19 levels. 

Hotel/Motel Tax Collections FY 2009-2020

Baseline: Annual Hotel/Motel Tax Collections by Fiscal Year (City of Franklin, Department of Finance)

Goal: To increase local sales tax revenue growth rate compared to the state sales tax growth rate.

Sales Tax is the largest and most important revenue source to the City of Franklin and one of the largest for the State of Tennessee. The local Sales Tax accounts for nearly 52% of all revenues which support the City's General Fund. In addition to the State‐imposed 7% sales tax, the City has a 2.75% local sales tax,which is the maximum by State law. Local sales tax revenue is shared with education, which is provided by Williamson County Schools and the Franklin Special School District.

Significant erosion in collections occurred, starting in 2008 and continuing through the first half of 2010, due to the Great Recession. However, a rebound started midway through FY 2010 through late FY 2020 during the largest economic expansion in American history. With the COVID-19 Pandemic, however, sales tax at all levels dropped significantly but rebounded faster than originally anticipated. The future of sales tax collections depends on the uncertain and slow recovery of the consumption-based economy of Franklin, Tennessee and the U.S.A. 

City of Franklin Local Sales Tax Collections, FY 2009-2020
Source: City of Franklin. (Financial Reports from City Finance Department)

State of Tennessee Sales Tax Collections, FY 2009-2020
Source: State of Tennessee, Office of the Treasurer.
Sales Tax Growth (Reduction) Differential, State vs. Franklin, FY 2009-2020

The goal of Franklin Forward is to increase local sales tax collections faster and greater than state-wide collections. The line chart to the right illustrates that since FY 2009 & the bottom of the Great Recession, the City achieved this goal until the COVID-19 pandemic. Although collections significantly eroded (at a rate faster than the comparable erosion at the State-level), since 2009 the City has performed better than the State until FY 2020. This indicator bears particular watching moving forward as the City is heavily reliant on consumption based taxes for general operations. 

Goal: Franklin will increase revenue over expenditures from conventions, meetings, and trade shows at the Conference Center.

The City of Franklin staff is working with the Conference Center & hotel management to oversee expenditure levels to limit the risk of any unexpected costs.

Group bookings for conventions and trade shows is a very competitive business, which limits the ability to set rates independently. Management works hard to maximize the attractiveness of the meeting rates at Cool Springs Conference Center with the proceeds necessary to increase revenue production.

Improving booking systems and increasing repeat business from groups and associations will increase attendance and provide a greater return to scale.

The Conference Center Operating Income statistics are shown below. Performance varies on an annual basis.

Baseline: Audited Operating Income figures, for the Joint Venture between the City of Franklin and Williamson County known as the Cool Springs Conference Center, FY 2011-2019.