American Picker Mike Wolfe is joining leaders from 13 rural Middle Tennessee and Northwest Alabama communities to launch a new regional movement dubbed "Nashville's Big Back Yard."
Nashville's Big Back Yard (NBBY) is a region anchored by 100 miles of the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway that connects communities with populations under 5,000 - from Leiper's Fork, down to Muscle Shoals, Alabama. In the age of coronavirus, small communities are seeing a surge of interest from people who are drawn to rural living, remote work, and an affordable lifestyle.
Hohenwald will serve as the hub of the regional initiative.
"This global pandemic is making folks rethink how and where they want to live and work," said Wolfe, a rural Williamson County resident who has traveled tens of thousands of miles and gained millions of fans as the star and creator of HISTORY's "American Pickers" series. "I know first-hand how much rural communities have to offer. Now is the perfect time to think about getting out of the cities, and back to small town Main Streets and open spaces. I'm honored to help shine a light on the communities in Nashville's Big Back Yard."
To help roll out Nashville's Big Back Yard, Wolfe produced social media content that is being used on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote the Middle Tennessee communities of Centerville, Clifton, Collinwood, Hampshire, Hohenwald, Leiper's Fork, Linden, Loretto, Mount Pleasant, Santa Fe, Summertown and Waynesboro- as well as The Shoals area of Northwest Alabama.
"We appreciate Mike's support of our movement to engage people who may be looking for a change of pace, including a more affordable lifestyle," said Lewis County Mayor Jonah Keltner.
Kevin Jackson, executive director of The Shoals Economic Development Authority, added, "The Shoals area is uniquely positioned for growth as people move from densely populated cities in search of a better quality of life."
NBBY is the result of lengthy conversations during COVID-19 spearheaded by Leiper's Fork philanthropist Aubrey Preston and led by community leaders.
"While COVID has dealt a devastating blow to our nation's public health and economy, it also has led people and communities to think about who we are and what we do," said Preston, who has spent more than 25 years working on rural preservation efforts including the popular Americana Music Triangle. "The land is calling people back, and Nashville's Big Back Yard has an abundance of land, water and world-class music. We're inviting folks to come and play in our big back yard."
The spring 2020 Harris Poll survey found nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults living in urban areas said they would consider moving "out of populated areas and toward rural areas."
According to data from the National Association of Realtors, median home prices in Nashville's Big Back Yard averaged less than $170,000 vs. the national median home price of $241,300.
Meanwhile, the Pew Charitable Trusts has identified Tennessee as one of nine states implementing "promising practices" to speed the deployment of high-speed internet service into rural areas - enabling more effective remote-work options.
For more information, visit nashvillesbigbackyard.org.