Hartman looks forward to shepherding city into economic future
Published 8:57 am Wednesday, July 15, 2015
While his title will remain the same, there have been changes to Elizabethton Planning and Development Director Jon Hartman’s list of responsibilities.
With the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library and Parks and Recreation Department now standing on their own, Elizabethton Planning and Development Director Jon Hartman can focus more intently on the city’s economic development efforts.
“This gives me, if nothing more, just that recognizable authority,” Hartman said. “People now know I’m the person they can come talk to about this.”
It’s been more than a week since the city of Elizabethton reorganized some of its departments. With countywide economic development efforts stuck in limbo, City Manager Jerome Kitchens wanted to make sure Elizabethton could move forward with its own efforts.
“There’s just so much uncertainty about where Carter County Tomorrow is going,” Hartman said. “One of the things I want to focus on for the coming year is getting a strategic plan together for the city’s economic development.”
Hartman has been on staff with the city since 2009, when he was named the community planner. He worked under David Ornduff, who was the planning and development director at that time.
When Ornduff retired in 2011, Hartman was appointed to the role as interim. The following year he became the permanent planning and development director.
Hartman was honored to now be named the city’s point of contact for economic development effective July 1.
“We’ve talked about doing more economic development in house,” he said. “I’ve preached the importance of retail recruitment and why it’s important. It all ties into the need to have a point of contact for economic development. There needs to be someone making sure we’re moving forward in a progressive manner.”
At least for the city, Hartman has plans to do so. He has already been asking all the important questions a leader in economic development is expected to ask.
“Is there land available?” he said. “Where is the land? Is it ideal? What’s the best use for the land? And, of course, how do we develop and market that plan to companies that will help grow our economy?”
Overall, Hartman would like to see the entire region come together over the economic development issue.
“There have been discussions of having more regional economic development cooperation as opposed to every county sticking to their own county lines,” Hartman said.
For example, a business that benefits Bristol may help Elizabethton and what benefits Elizabethton may help Johnson City, Hartman said.
“If a new industry comes into Johnson City, it could benefit Elizabethton because it would provide more jobs,” Hartman said. “The Pinnacle complex in Bristol is another example. All three of the major cities and even the smaller Elizabethton are close enough in proximity that if one sees a benefit, it’s likely it will benefit the other cities as well.”
Some surrounding cities have the same structure as Elizabethton does now with Hartman’s new responsibilities.
“This reorganization is reflective of what we are already starting to see in the region and even nationally to some extent,” Hartman said. “We’re starting to see a lot of economic development activities originate out of planning and development departments.”
With the shift in responsibilities, Hartman is eager to have a better picture of what the city’s economy currently looks like and what kinds of businesses thrive here. He plans to ask leaders and the community what goals they would like to see him help accomplish. He is also interested in breaking the city into some different industrial sectors.
“Before I just focused on fostering what is existing,” he said. “Some of the expectations for this new position opens me up to site development, larger workforce development concerns, small business development and recruitment. It’s still going to be about continuing to foster what we have, but we will be broadening our recruitment and looking at what we need to be doing to get where we need to be with our economy.”