Main Street Program’s first director looking to learn what community needs

Published 8:10 am Friday, October 11, 2019

With the Main Street program advancing rapidly in Elizabethton, the city has announced the local chapter’s first director, and she wants as much community feedback as she can get.

A Memphis native, Courtney Washburn comes from working at Tusculum University’s Center for Civic Advancement, a department that has a similar role to her new position as director of Elizabethton’s Main Street Program.

“I loved my work at Tusculum,” Washburn said. “I wanted to expand my experience.”

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There, her work involved organizing service projects, managing a recycling program, food drives and much more.

Having just recently received a Master’s in Strategic Communication, she said she leaped at the chance to work in Elizabethton.

“There is already a lot of wonderful things in downtown,” she said. “My job is to help elevate it.”

This passion for her community, she said, has been a part of her since childhood.

“For me, the community is valuable to who I am,” Washburn said. “I have always been involved in these areas.”

After receiving her undergraduate at Maribelle College in Tennessee, she said she served as an Americorps member for two years, worked with Keep Blount Beautiful, a branch of Keep America Beautiful, and also worked at the Sustainability Office at UT.

As she has barely been the new director of the Main Street Program for a week, she said her first order of business is to get to know her community better.

“This year is all about strategizing,” Washburn said. “We want to know who is downtown, who is coming to downtown. These are important questions to ask.”

She said she loves this aspect of her job because of the relationships she gets to build with other people.

“It is about relationships, being a voice for the community and what stakeholders want to see,” she said.

The first step, she said, is to have an informational meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15, to talk details, including what the community genuinely wants to see out of the Main Street Program as well as what membership involves. This is important, she said, because she has only lived in the area for about five years.

“I live in Johnson City,” Washburn said. “I am new to this community. There is a lot I need to catch up on.”

Despite this difficult curve, she said her initial experiences with the Elizabethton community have been positive.

“I find it exciting,” she said.”Everybody has been so nice and welcoming.”

She said meetings like this, as well as the program itself, will be made up of the community for the community.

“It is a chance to get involved,” Washburn said. “If they want to be involved, there is a space for them.”