Being selective when recruiting the right businesses for a community

Published 4:10 pm Friday, June 21, 2024

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Since the announcement was made that a car wash was being developed for the property formerly occupied by Fatz, a lot of complaints have been heard – “We don’t need another car wash, we need a good restaurant.”

We have also heard “we need a good motel in this town, not another storage building.”

Filling a need in the community is one of the main jobs of an economic development director, and that is recruiting not just any business, but businesses that meet a need.

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There is a need for a couple of good restaurants in town – not fast food, but good sit-down restaurants. Also, there is a need for a good motel.

There was a time when Carter County and Elizabethton linked arms to recruit business and industry to the community. An economic development director was in place and that was his full-time job. Remember the days of Haynes Elliott, who tirelessly worked to bring much needed business and industry to Elizabethton and Carter County?

Perhaps it’s time to bring the community together to form a vision and set goals for economic development. Government leaders are tasked with the job of listening closely to how people see the community and what businesses they would like to see locate and grow here.

Incentives could be offered for the right kind or “much wanted” businesses to locate in the community. These could include property tax breaks, discounted fees and permits. Involve the Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Elizabethton in recruitment efforts.

Restaurants and motels bring jobs to a community. We realize there is a shortage of this kind of workers, but if we bring quality businesses to a community, the pay will be quality as will be the workers.

Local residents complain that you must travel to a neighboring city to find a quality restaurant or a motel. Their question: Why can’t we have a good motel and some quality eating places?

People often say that small businesses are the backbone of a country’s economy. That’s certainly true, but not enough is said about how those businesses impact their local communities.

Small businesses, such as restaurants, impact their local communities by creating jobs and circulating money in the economy. Besides that, they also help the environment and give customers access to more product and service choices. Some iconic businesses even become part of the community’s identity, attracting visitors from far and wide.

Small businesses like cafes and restaurants and even a motel for travelers, are more critical to their surrounding neighborhoods than most people realize. They certainly offer much more value to people living nearby than just being a place that sells the products they need.

First and foremost, they are job creators. As you can imagine, small businesses have very deep ties to their surrounding community. That’s especially true because these enterprises help to circulate money thoroughly throughout the local economy.

Also, remember that these enterprises are often located close to their customers. That means their customers don’t need to drive far to buy what they need.

We would like to see the city actively pursue the kinds of businesses that its taxpayers want, and to involve them in economic development. We need not to take any business that comes along especially when it is locating on a piece of prime town property, but we need to be more selective about what we want on those properties and go after it.

Now is the time to not only recruit business to our community, but to seek those businesses that will fill a need in our community.