County commissioners identify top growth goals

Robert Houk • Updated Feb 7, 2019 at 9:50 PM

Upgrading the county’s infrastructure, improving communications and enhancing workforce development opportunities are the top three strategic goals members of Washington County’s Commercial, Industrial and Agricultural Committee have recommended the County Commission pursue in the coming years.

Those priorities were culled from seven initiatives identified by commissioners during a workshop last month. Commissioner Jodi Jones made a motion Thursday for the CIA Committee to send a resolution to their colleagues on Feb. 25 to ratify those objectives. 

“This is what we (commissioners) will be working on in next three-and-a-half years,” she said. 

Thirteen of Washington County’s 15 commissioners attended the daylong workshop, which was held on Jan. 19  at East Tennessee State University’s Valleybrook Campus in Kingsport. 

Consultants Pat Hardy, from the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Assistance Service, and Rick Hall, of UT’s County Technical Assistance Service, served as facilitators for the workshop. The two have prepared a report to commissioners outlining the goals established at that workshop.

“Our goal should be to get the process started,” CIA Chairman Phil Carriger said. “There are four issues still out there.”

In other business, the committee agreed to hear a presentation on the county’s economic health from an expert at East Tennessee State University at its meeting in March. Carriger said he has asked Jon  L. Smith, an ETSU associate professor of economics and director of the Bureau of Business and Economics Research, to give commissioners “an overview” of the local economy.

“We are not growing like Knoxville and Nashville,” Carriger said. “We’re behind the curve.”

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