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Is Carter County’s economy poised to leap forward?

The Downtown Business Association meeting last Thursday was full of positive information.
It was my first time to attend that organization’s meeting and it was good to see old friends and reconnect with them, as well as have the opportunity to get acquainted with several community and business leaders I hadn’t met.
The meeting was also my first chance to meet Tom Anderson, president of Carter County Tomorrow.
Anderson’s presentation to the DBA was full of good news for the county. As he talked, he ticked off a list of encouraging developments, one after another, listing business expansions, new projects and events that are planned for the community in the near future.
Listening to him, it was hard not to be excited for Carter County and its economic progress.
As if to underscore his positive message, his comments to the group came on the same day of last week’s groundbreaking for the new Sycamore Springs Senior Living Community, a new $6 million investment that will provide 30 living suites and a 16-unit memory care unit. It will bring dozens of new jobs to the county when it opens in the spring of 2015.
Anderson also told the group about the expansion of Send the Light, a book distribution company, that will add 45 new jobs to the community. The company will be combining its operations from two other states at its Elizabethton location.
He announced that NCI Manufacturing Group is looking for welders – another good indication of growth – and that our GP Harmon recycling industry will be expanding to three shifts.
During his conversation with the group, he also indicated that a new hotel might soon become a reality.
“I believe we aren’t more than one to two years from having a hotel here,” Anderson said. “There has been a lot of interest and we’ve been able to show them a number of generators, the type of things that put people in rooms.”
Some of those generators include the nearly one million visitors each year to the county’s two state parks – Roan Mountain State Park and Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area – as well as several international companies that are based here, community activities, sporting events and more.
In 2011, Anderson said he met with the director of development for Hilton Hotels, who told him she would authorize a Hilton brand for Elizabethton.
That was three years ago and the Hilton representative was already impressed. Now, Anderson says, with many recent developments, Carter County has an even bigger story to tell.
We’ve watched as our neighbors to the north and the west have taken some pretty substantial steps forward in their quest for economic development. They’ve worked hard for their success – the result of some pretty impressive teamwork between their governmental leaders and private enterprise.
Now it’s our turn. We have developed a pretty impressive list of recent accomplishments that can be used to build a strong resume for enticing prospective new businesses. From all appearances, it certainly seems that Carter County is right on the edge of becoming the newest success story in Northeast Tennessee.