On June 15, known to Nashville as ‘6-1-5 Day,’ Mayor John Cooper addressed members of the COVID-19 Financial Oversight Committee to request two additional projects from American Rescue Plan relief funding, of which Nashville was allocated $129 million in federal money to assist in Nashville’s recovery. These two new priorities (totaling $30 million) are in addition to the previously announced $30 million the mayor has requested for creating affordable housing, and $50 million to address homelessness.
The first new proposal from Mayor Cooper is a bold $20 million investment to expand participatory budgeting to all Nashville residents recovering from the devastating COVID pandemic. Facilitated by Fabian Bedne in the Mayor’s Office, community members propose projects and initiatives that directly address the human and economic challenges affecting communities and then vote on which to fund with federal tax dollars. Cooper’s Administration brought participatory budgeting to Nashville in 2021 and is now in the second cycle of the program in Bordeaux and North Nashville through a $2 million annual investment in Mayor Cooper’s capital spending plan. This new announcement expands the process to the rest of the county and prioritizes spending in neighborhoods whose residents have the greatest need.
“Participatory Budgeting has been an enormous success in Bordeaux and North Nashville,” said Cooper. “Over 500 community members chose to fund eight projects to improve their neighborhood, from new speed bumps to a new pavilion at Bordeaux Gardens Park to a better playground for Hartman Park. By expanding the program to be countywide, and by allocating funds based on the communities that have the most need, we are helping build the resilience and provide the necessary tools for neighborhoods to overcome adversity and thrive for years to come.”
The mayor also proposed a $10 million transformation plan of Fisk University’s Burrus Hall. Named after two of Fisk’s first graduates and professors, Burrus served as a music building and men’s dormitory until the 1990s. This new investment will transform Burrus into an innovation incubator to drive entrepreneurship and create wealth.
“The city and Fisk envision a partnership that transforms Burrus Hall into an innovation incubator facility with more than 12,000 square feet of flexible space”, said Cooper. “The space will be used for small business entrepreneurship, tech boot camps, and other programming that will serve as a jumping-off point for ideas that entrepreneurs can spin out into self-sustaining businesses or for further private investment.”