Our case studies

Aspire Clarksville

Leveraging private sector investment for transformative economic development.

Situation Analysis

  • Clarksville / Montgomery County: 40 minutes northwest of Nashville on 1-24 on the TN/KY Border
  • Closest city to Fort Campbell, home of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division
  • Home of Austin Peay State University
  • Explosive growth in the last two decades (44% since 2010), making Clarksville the fifth largest city in Tennessee and will soon be the fourth

NCDS Involvement 

In 1996 (county population 125,000) NCDS helped establish the Aspire Program as part of the Clarksville-Montgomery County Economic Partnership as a way for business and community leaders to supplement the work of the County Industrial Board’s business attraction efforts. The initial four-year campaign raised $1.6 million in private-sector commitments, primarily for marketing Clarksville as a place for industrial relocation and expansion.

From 2000 – 2019, NCDS managed three of Aspire’s next five multi-year campaigns (Two “DIY” attempts were less than optimal, and NCDS was again retained for campaigns 4,5 and 6). Each of those campaigns raised 20-30% more than its predecessor, and the majority of funding was used to successfully land significant new industrial investment and jobs, including several large international projects and a Google data center. 

The Aspire program transitioned to a private 501(c)(3) foundation, and every five years since 2009, it has commissioned a “Strategic Blueprint” to develop funding priorities and inform the work of the Partnership (IDB, Chamber, and Tourism). While retaining its focus on industrial recruitment, recent blueprints and corresponding fundraising campaigns have placed increasing emphasis on workforce and talent.

Stakeholder input received during NCDS’ 2023 feasibility analysis revealed a strong desire for Aspire to move decisively toward community improvement and quality of place objectives, especially those that would help attract talent and help raise incomes in the county. The 2025-2029 campaign, with a private-sector goal of $5.1 million and the corresponding multi-year strategic initiative includes aggressive new goals in:

  • Place-based development ($1.1 billion in redevelopment districts and 1,000 downtown housing units) 
  • Talent attraction (increased retention of APSU grads and Fort Campbell veterans)
  • Advocacy ($500 million in direct external federal and state infrastructure investment)
  • Investor relations (establish a new investor advisory council)

Partnership Highlights

  • 12,000 + Direct New Jobs
  • $5 billion + capital investment
  • 44% population growth since 2010
  • 111% Retail sales growth since 2010
  • $22% increase in household income since 2016
  • Money Magazine’s #1 Best Place to Live – 2019
  • Business Facilities EDO of the year (mid-sized communities)
  • Lightcast #4 in the nation for talent attraction


  • Learn more about Aspire Clarksville here.
  • Learn more about the Clarksville Economic Development Council here.
  • View Clarksville's Ascend & Advance 2025-2029 Campaign brochure here.

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