An Opportunity for Faith Leaders

There is a group of folks who have been working on a statement for Faith Leaders on the MCC Project to be shared with councilpersons:

Members of the Metropolitan Council
Historic Courthouse
Public Square
Nashville, TN 37201

Dear Council Member:

As leaders of faith communities throughout Nashville, we have watched with interest the debate over the proposal to build a new convention center in Nashville. We have stood beside you in considering all sides of the issue, including both the economic benefits and costs, and respect the difficult decision you have before you. As you make that decision in the coming days, we urge you to consider seriously how this project will affect all parts of our city, today, tomorrow, and 30 years from now.

Nashville has many urgent needs. Our schools, while making some forward progress, continue to need our attention. Inadequate sidewalks, underfunded parks and community centers compromise our hope for a higher quality of life. Crime and limited opportunities for our youth challenge our future. Despite these obstacles and ever diminishing opportunities; we are troubled by the focus on the construction of a new convention center rather than a frank conversation on how we might address those obstacles.

Will this convention center solve the pressing problems of our city? Will it improve the lives of the young and the old? Or, will it be a diversion, a distraction keeping us from allocating precious time and resources for those things that do? In other words, will construction of a convention center do justice for the least among us or will it simply further the divide?

We find the case of DBE contracting instructive. Originally, the Council was told 20% of contracts would go to businesses owned by minorities and women. To date, less than 6% of contracts have gone to such businesses. Instead, the vast majority of DBE contracts have gone to small businesses owned and operated by the majority. The official response to this dismal record was a single-page letter asking the Convention Center Authority to form a committee that would make sure minority participation is “maximized.”

As you consider your vote on whether Nashville should build a convention center, we pray you consider the record so far and what it might suggest for the future. What opportunities will be lost for the sake of a convention center?


Click here if you are a leader in a faith community and would like to sign on to this statement.


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