The discussion was stirred over the changing role of Carter County Tomorrow in the past few years. When the organization was organized several years ago by a group led by David Bautista, it was intended to serve as an umbrella organization for several groups, including the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce. It was also intended to be the economic development organization for the county.
That changed a few years ago when then-Mayor Leon Humphrey encouraged the creation of a new organization which would include Johnson City, which had not been included in Carter County Tomorrow. The new organization was the Carter County Joint Economic and Community Development Board.
Carter County Tomorrow Board Chairman Sam LaPorte said there was no reason for a duplication of economic development boards. “We should be here to serve the county,” LaPorte said. Other members of the board pointed out that Carter County Tomorrow performs functions that the newer Joint Economic and Community Development Board cannot perform. One of the biggest is the handling of funds. In its creation, the Joint Economic and Community Development Board was intended to be a board that operated without funding and did not have a treasury or take any money. This eliminated the need for an audit.
Carter County Tomorrow was created to handle funds and accept annual donations from the city and county to enable it to do its economic development mission. It also could accept state and federal grants and act as a “pass through” organization for local groups that are awarded grants. Carter County Tomorrow also serves as the landlord for the county-owned Workforce Development Complex, a facility which is partially rented by the Elizabethton campus of Northeast State Community College.
The two economic development organizations also have focused on different areas, with Carter County Tomorrow working to market the Matheson Property on U.S. Highway 19E on the eastern end of Elizabethton. That effort is appearing to see progress, with neighboring Snap-on Tools preparing to purchase a 6-acre tract of undeveloped land on the Matheson property.
Sanp-on’s purchase of the property is awaiting the completion of due diligence by Snap-on management. Carter County paid for the standard analysis of pollution of the property, which came up clean. Elizabethton Planning Director Jon Hartman said Snap-on may prefer conducting a more in-depth examination, which the company would fund.