Nashville advocacy groups demand community input on Oracle plan

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Posted at 6:40 AM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 14:12:49-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There's new opposition to a massive, $1.2 billion plan to bring Oracle's new hub to Nashville. Some groups think the city is moving too fast with the project.

The Equity Alliance and Stand Up Nashville say city officials are touting the Oracle deal as a huge win, but they question who it’s a win for.

Advocates with the groups held a press conference on Monday to share their concerns with the deal.

Watch the full press conference below:

The headquarters would be along the East Bank of the Cumberland River, north of Top Golf. As part of the deal, half of Oracle's future property taxes would go to reimbursing the company for it's upfront infrastructure investment. The other half would benefit the city's general fund which Mayor Cooper has said he hopes to commit toward affordable housing and Metro School STEM programs.

The deal also includes eventually bringing 8,500 salaried jobs – the largest deal in Nashville’s history. What we know about these jobs is they have an average salary of more than six figures, but what about the other 11,500 jobs needed to maintain the facility? Will they make a living wage? Will they afford housing and who will get these jobs? Will Oracle rely on their own people or will locals be considered?

Odessa Kelly is the Executive Director of Stand Up Nashville and says these are just a fraction of the questions.

"Every article you've read about Oracle up to this point has been to convince you and me that this is a good deal. Had they did it together with the community in making this deal, you wouldn't have to convince us. We'd already be on board because we've been a part of making it," Kelly said.

The Equity Alliance and Stand Up Nashville question why the city continues to "make deals behind closed doors" without community input. They say city leaders fail to see the real impacts these massive deals have on neighbors, on housing and gentrification, on traffic and infrastructure, and on jobs and economic mobility for the people who already call Nashville home.

In response, Andrea Fanta with the Mayor's office released the following statement:

This proposal will bring 8,500 jobs to our city and millions in new tax revenue that can be spent on affordable housing.

Councilwoman Suara has a proposal to declare Metro’s intent to spend a significant portion of property tax revenues from Oracle’s investment – an estimated $9 million a year – on affordable housing. Mayor Cooper fully backs the Councilwoman’s proposal. In his first statement about Oracle, Mayor Cooper expressed a desire to fund affordable housing with a portion of the new revenue.

Oracle plans to bring their Oracle Academy computing curriculum to Metro Schools to prepare our students for STEM careers.

As the proposal makes its way through a transparent process -- including a public hearing before the Industrial Development Board, a meeting of the Budget & Finance Committee, and deliberation before the full Metro Council -- we welcome and encourage all residents to learn more about the biggest jobs announcement in Nashville and Tennessee history.

As for the broader questions of investments in education and affordable housing, the Mayor looks forward to sharing details of his FY2022 budget proposal at the State of Metro on Thursday morning.

The Industrial Development Board, a citizen-run Metro board, is expected to vote on the deal Tuesday. Board member Tequila Johnson says she plans on calling a motion to delay the vote and offer more time to get answers to the community's questions.

"We have to become an inclusive city. Not just inclusive in the way that we look, but inclusive in the way that we do business. We have not done business in a way that protects our city and our city's residents. That has to change," Johnson said.

You can take part in the public hearing by calling in to 629-255-1989. The meeting begins Tuesday morning at 10.

Read more: Oracle submits plans for $1.2B investment into new Nashville hub, creating 8.5K jobs