As Nashville booms, there are not enough construction workers to keep building

·3 min read

Greetings, amigos:

Since COVID-19 emerged in Tennessee in March 2020, communities designated certain laborers as "essential" whose skills, talent and presence were so needed that they could not stop working during shutdowns early in the pandemic.

Among them: construction workers. One can see cranes across downtown Nashville and its surroundings, with workers building new hotels, office buildings and homes all over the Middle Tennessee region.

It's no secret that Nashville is booming, but there is a problem. There are not enough construction workers to keep things moving on pace.

My colleague, Tennessean reporter Arcelia Martin, just wrote about this serious situation.

Construction workers on Cowan street move debris around.
Construction workers on Cowan street move debris around.

"Without a robust workforce, developments across Middle Tennessee will consequently cost more and take longer to complete. Tennessee is short 200,000 construction workers across all trades," Martin wrote.

This labor shortage is not unique to Tennessee. Compounded with supply chain delays and record inflation of 7%, this has the potential to hamper the economy if things do not improve. Scroll to check out her story.

Orgullo: Conexión Américas

Before I talk about what else is in the newsletter, I wanted to congratulate Martha Silva and Tara Lentz.

Martha Silva and Tara Lentz
Martha Silva and Tara Lentz

They were named the permanent co-executive directors of Conexión Américas, the Nolensville Pike-based nonprofit at the Casa Azafran community center that serves the needs of Latino families.

For the last several months, they served in an interim capacity.

“Through their demonstrated commitment to Conexión Américas’ mission and the Latinx community in Tennessee, Martha and Tara have proven themselves to be the ideal combination of hard skills, experience and dedication needed to lead the organization,” said Conexión Américas Board President, Tina Garcia, in a Jan. 12 news release.

Read a recent story featuring Silva and Lentz by Tennessean reporter Anika Exum as part of the "One and 100" series about how COVID-19 has affected residents, businesses, nonprofits and others across the U.S. South.

Elena's perilous trek to the USA

My colleagues Rafael Carranza and Nick Oza, reporters for The Arizona Republic, a publication of the USA TODAY Network, wrote a fascinating feature on the harrowing journey of a Mexican woman seeking asylum in the United States.

Only after Elena Ramirez saw her son Emiliano play outdoors in Eugene, without fear of cartel violence, did the feeling of security finally sink in.
Only after Elena Ramirez saw her son Emiliano play outdoors in Eugene, without fear of cartel violence, did the feeling of security finally sink in.

Gaining asylum is already difficult, but it has been made more challenging by recent federal policies and COVID-19.

Carranza and Oza tell the story of Elena Ramírez and her journey with her 14-year-old son to escape poverty, crime and domestic violence.

It's a powerful read.

'Encanto' enchants this viewer

On a lighter subject, I mentioned a few weeks ago my desire to watch the Disney animated movie "Encanto." I missed an opportunity over Thanksgiving week to go to the theaters, but I finally watched it on the Disney+ streaming service over the weekend.

In Disney's "Encanto," Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz) meets her mysterious uncle Bruno (John Leguizamo), who is the subject of breakout hit "We Don't Talk About Bruno."
In Disney's "Encanto," Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz) meets her mysterious uncle Bruno (John Leguizamo), who is the subject of breakout hit "We Don't Talk About Bruno."

It is about the Madrigal family, a magical clan in a village in Colombia and how their gifts are threatened by a prophecy.

The movie won a Golden Globe for Best Animated Film and toppled Adele's reign on the Billboard charts as the No. 1 album. The song "We Don't Talk About Bruno" is the movie's top track.

When I heard my 6-year-old niece sing "Bruno, no, no" over and over again, I had a feeling it would explode in popularity like the song "Let It Go" from "Frozen."

Next on my watch list: "West Side Story," the Steven Spielberg remake of the classic Oscar-winning film featuring conflict between Puerto Rican and Anglo gangs in New York City.

Supporting actress: Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story”
Supporting actress: Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story”

The new version also recently won Golden Globes in categories including Best Musical or Comedy and in two of the best performance categories for actresses Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose.

What movies are you streaming these days? I'm looking for recommendations.

Stay well, healthy and warm.

¡Muchas gracias!

David Plazas is the director of opinion and engagement for the USA TODAY Network Tennessee. He is of Colombian and Cuban descent, has studied or worked in several Spanish-speaking countries, and was the founding editor of Gaceta Tropical in Southwest Florida. He has lived in Tennessee since 2014. Call him at (615) 259-8063, email him at dplazas@tennessean.com or tweet to him at @davidplazas.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville booms, but there are not enough construction workers

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