America's New Boomtown City Is ...

Nashville job growthIt isn't just singer-songwriters who are flocking to Nashville these days. So are engineers and nurses, accountants and developers, dental assistants and robot-designers. The country music capital led the nation in job growth last year, according to revised data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and reported by The City Paper. The formerly sleepy Southern town is now the nation's brightest spot of opportunity.

Between 2011 and 2012, the Nashville metro area experienced job growth of 3.9 percent, more than any other metro area with a population of more than 1 million. Nashville's music industry -- the second largest in the country after New York's -- employs thousands, but that's not what's powering the boom. Rather, it's the city's flourishing health care sector, and a wave of companies that have packed up their headquarters and moved to the Tennessee capital.

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Health care is the biggest industry in Nashville: The area is home to more than 300 health care companies, reported, including the two enormous and enormously profitable hospital chains Hospital Corporation of America and Community Health Systems Inc. Nashville's reputation as a thriving medical center has built on itself, with more and more companies in the industry gravitating to the Sun Belt city. There are currently over 800 health-care-related job openings in the Nashville area listed at (an AOL Jobs partner).

Employers like the business-friendly climate: Businesses in an array of other industries have also made the southern migration. Citing the lower cost of doing business, Nissan Motor Co. moved its North American headquarters, and 1,300 jobs, from California to a Nashville suburb in 2006. Tennessee has no state income tax, cheap real estate and low living costs, and to seal the deals, Nashville has been exceptionally generous with the tax breaks and credits it offers companies considering a move.

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The business-process-outsourcing firm IQT Inc. announced that it was relocating from New York City to Nashville in 2011, reported Area Development Online, having been tempted by perks like a grant to offset startup costs, and an additional grant for each job created. Company Co-CEO Alex Mortman also said that the city, which is home to dozens of colleges and universities, including Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt University, had the "smart, educated, technology savvy people" whom they were looking to hire.

Nashville's culture is also a major draw: "The food scene here, the entertainment scene, the people seem friendly, the employee base seems to be welcoming," Hazem Ouf, president of national restaurant chain American Blue Ribbon Holdings, told WKRN-TV about the company's decision to relocate last year. "Certainly you can feel the Southern hospitality here."

While Tennessee's unemployment rate is stuck above the national average, Nashville's is more than a whole percentage point below. It seems that almost every day a major company is changing its tune about where to be headquartered, and that tune is increasingly being played on a fiddle.

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