County JECDB discusses variety of topics during second meeting

Published 6:07 am Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden                           Members of the Carter County Joint Economic and Community Development Board look through documents during Tuesday's meeting.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Members of the Carter County Joint Economic and Community Development Board look through documents during Tuesday’s meeting.

Steps continue to be made for economic development in the region.
The Carter County Joint Economic and Community Development Board convened inside the county courthouse on Tuesday, Dec. 13, to address what’s ahead for the future.
In just their second meeting, the board was able to hear the current economic climate in Carter County.
Elizabethton Planning and Development Director Jon Hartman spoke to the JECDB and provided an update on the Matheson Property, located off State Line Road. The property has been handled by Carter County Tomorrow and is looking at getting a Phase II Environmental Assessment performed to help prepare the building to be marketed for potential industries.
Citing a recent study performed by Austin Consulting, Hartman added the building provides the best short term solution to attract potential industries.
The expected cost for a Phase II study is tentatively around $12,500 with Carter County Tomorrow pledging $5,000 toward the study.
Along with industry, Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey added that tourism will be a key component not only for county, but for region. Humphrey stated that a recent meeting with the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Development Partnership showed that Carter, Washington and Unicoi counties recognized the natural beauty of the region.
“Tourism is a big opportunity,” he said, adding he doesn’t want Carter County to be America’s best kept secret for much longer.
Humphrey also brought up the idea of bringing in a hotel to the county. After four years since the last discussion with a hotel business, the mayor added that the area is in prime position to have a hotel being properly utilized. With the only hang up of a hotel coming due to a feasibility study, the board recommended Humphrey receive estimates for a study and to have them presented before the city and county for a possible joint endeavor to fund it.
Ken Markland, president of the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce, added that while the study may not have results that are ideal, it would still serve as a positive barometer to see where county fares for future development.
Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander, who serves as the JECDB chairman, added the city recently voted to join the NTREDP during the City Council held on Thursday, Dec. 8.
With Elizabethton aboard, Mitch Miller, Washington County Economic Development CEO who presented the City Council with the presentation, stated after the Thursday’s meeting that it is full steam ahead with each of the governmental bodies in Unicoi and Washington counties pledging their support for the partnership.
JECDB member and Carter County Commissioner Charles VonCannon added the county has also reaped the rewards of joining the regional partnership with the recent expansion of Mullican Flooring, which expanded in near Carter County and opened up job opportunities.
As far as the validity of the JECDB, members received an update from Humphrey that the board is compliant with regulations to apply for block grants.
Hartman added he spoke with MTAS and other attorneys and they added the only other concern they had was the county having two economic development groups. Hartman reiterated that the city passed a blanket resolution to have the JECDB as the sole 1011 for the county. Humphrey added that verbiage from the county’s resolution recognized the JECDB group solely but would take the resolution up with the county attorney.
The board is scheduled to meet again in February to address the implementation of bylaws and the possibility of electing a greenbelt land owner to join with the board. Advertisement will be published for any individuals that classify under the category to be part of the board. The JECDB will also await representation from the City of Johnson City. Former Mayor Clayton Stout was part of the board but now the group will wait until a new mayor is elected. The new mayor for the City of Johnson City or a designee will be on the board for future meetings.

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