MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s the city Memphians sometimes love to hate – Nashville.
It’s been ranked among America’s most affordable places to live and recently voted as the best in barbecue.
Friday that rivalry was set aside as a group of Memphians welcomed the mayor of Nashville in an effort to help make both cities better.
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton are mayors of Tennessee’s two largest cities, yet some would consider them rivals.
“We make too much of this rivalry between Memphis and Nashville, which quite frankly doesn’t make much sense,” said Mayor Wharton.
Any talk of problems was put aside Friday to talk about a future of working together and growing together.
Mayor Dean was the speaker at Summons to Memphis, an event bringing other mayors to Memphis to talk about their successes.
“I think we can learn together. We’re sister cities 200 miles apart. Lets talk about what we can do together. That’s the basic idea here,” said sponsor Henry Turley.
Mayor Dean said, “You need to be a city about the future, which is technology, but cities rise and fall by the people who live in their city and you want to be a city that produces and attracts talent, and you need to be warm welcoming city, which is the tolerance piece.”
Dean says a tolerance for diversity is essential, and so is upgrading transportation to stay economically competitive.
As far as that rivalry goes, both men want to capitalize on things binding us together, like music.
Wharton said, “When folks come in here on the steam ship they want to see all forms of good Southern music, country music, blues, so hey lets work together and package it.”
The state’s capital city is already making the most of its country music tradition. There’s a new downtown convention center, a TV show named Nashville, plus the planned National Museum of African American Music and its building around that brand.
Mayor Dean says tourism is now the city’s number one industry.