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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.

Downtown Nashville skyline at sunset with a view of the Cumberland River and Batman building.

Learn more about the area’s top industries and employers. | Photo via Pexels

Table of Contents

More than 1.2 million people (and thousands of businesses) contribute to the Nashville metro area’s $188 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 major 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 billion and 362,560 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. There are over 80,000 direct and indirect music and entertainment jobs, as well as ~200 recording studios. The industry contributes $9.9 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, 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
Health care | Search jobs

  • VUMC landed on US News’ 2023-2024 Best Hospitals Honor Roll. The hospital system offers careers in inpatient and outpatient clinical care, research, administration, IT, communications, and more.

Nissan North America
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.
Health care | Search jobs

Tech | Search jobs
In 2018, Amazon pledged 5,000 corporate and technology jobs as part of a two-building logistics hub at Nashville Yards. The company’s first local tower opened in 2021.

Vanderbilt University
Higher education | Search jobs

Ascension Saint Thomas
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.

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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