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The top industries and employers in the Nashville metro area

Learn about the biggest industries and employers in the Nashville metro area with this guide to local business.

Nashville skyline

Learn more about the area’s top industries and employers.

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Table of Contents

More than 1.2 million people (and thousands of businesses) contribute to the Nashville metro area’s $163 billion economy. But have you ever wondered about Music City’s heaviest hitters?

Consider this Nashville Business 101 — your guide to our region’s key industries and major employers.

Note: When we say Nashville’s metro area, that refers to the metropolitan statistical area for Nashville, Davidson County, Murfreesboro, and Franklin.

The key industries

There are four key industries that represent the bulk of the region’s economy, based on 10-county data from Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Health care

  • Over 900 health care companies are located in the Middle Tennessee region. The industry contributes $67.91 billion and 332,305 direct and indirect jobs to the local economy annually. More than half of the privately-owned hospital beds in the US are operated by Nashville-based companies.

Music and entertainment

  • It likely comes as no surprise that Nashville is home to the highest concentration of musicians and music businesses in the US. Over 5,000 working musicians and ~200 recording studios call this city home. The industry contributes $15.6 billion to the local economy annually.

Advanced manufacturing

  • Nashville connects 20 states by the CSX rail system, air cargo at BNA is supported by 10 major carriers, and the city offers competitive freight transport rates — all factors that make the region a prime destination for manufacturing careers. Top local employers in this industry include Nissan North America, Gulfstream Aircraft, General Motors, and Bridgestone Americas Inc.

Tourism and hospitality

  • Area colleges like Lipscomb University, Nashville State Community College, and Middle Tennessee State University offer hospitality programs designed to meet workforce needs in this growing industry.

The major players

Now that we’ve established the major industries, we bet you’re curious for specific names. Whether you’re job hunting (or just casually prospecting), here are five major employers based in the region.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center
~40,000 overall employees | Health care | Search jobs

  • VUMC ranked No. 19 on US News’ 2022-2023 Best Hospitals Honor Roll. The hospital system offers careers in inpatient and outpatient clinical care, research, administration, IT, communications, and more.

Nissan North America
~22,000 overall employees | Manufacturing | Search jobs

  • Nissan’s North American operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, distribution and manufacturing, and sales and marketing. The company is headquartered in Franklin.

HCA Healthcare Inc.
~283,000 overall employees | Health care | Search jobs

Vanderbilt University
~9,253 overall employees | Higher education | Search jobs

  • Forbes magazine ranked the university No. 10 on its 2022 list of Best Employers in Tennessee17 spots higher than the previous year. Vanderbilt announced plans to launch a new employee assistance program with expanded offerings and resources available to employees’ families in 2023.

Ascension Saint Thomas
~8,335 overall employees | Health care | Search jobs

  • This not-for-profit health care system has a large presence in Tennessee with 12 hospital campuses and a network of affiliated joint ventures, medical practices, clinics, and rehabilitation facilities. Ascension Saint Thomas provided more than $154 million in community care in 2021.

This information is derived from the employer directly and/or the most recent data published by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

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