Rapid growth means significant challenges for Murfreesboro and local builders

May 24, 2016

Credit rchba.info/

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  A new Census Bureau report lists Murfreesboro as one of the fastest growing small cities in America, but a local builder says rapid growth also means significant problems.

Chris Jensen is President of the Rutherford County Home Builder’s Association. He says the area’s builders are happy with the work strong growth brings, especially after struggling through years of economic downturn.

But Jensen also says there are some problems ahead. He notes that it’s getting harder to find land to build on and what land is available is getting more expensive. He says a 2014 law passed by the Tennessee Legislature restricting the way cities can grow through annexation is making the land shortage in Murfeesboro even worse.

“Because of that, the city is actually looking at not putting the infrastructure in and changing their infrastructure plans because they can’t expect to 100 percent be able to get the cost back -- the investment that they put in. So we’re kind of in a little bit of a catch 22 on that aspect of it.”

He also notes that a lot of skilled workers left the construction business during the recession and haven’t returned. Finding qualified workers is growing challenge. He says at least one of his subcontractors is filling empty positions with imported labor.

“He is having to find them housing and pay for and get visas and work visas to bring workers up from Central America or even South America because we have a lack of skilled labor currently.”

Jensen gives Murfreesboro top marks for the way its handling growth, but says Rutherford County needs to do a better job of planning for and building the infrastructure that growth requires.