State of the city address discusses push to make Kingsport a destination city

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL)– Kingsport, the Tri-Cities planned industrial town, is once again looking to the future.

City leaders gathered together today, at the Meadowview convention center in Kingsport, for the mayor’s annual ‘State of the City’ address– to hear what can be expected in the coming year.

Kingsport’s mayor John Clark revealed that Sullivan County has only grown 9% in the past 28 years– this is less than a fourth of the growth Washington County has seen with its 39% increase. And in that same span of time Hawkins County’s population grew 28%.

Mayor Clark said “we want it to become the premiere city in northeast Tennessee to live, work, raise a family and for businesses to grow and prosper”.

And the main focus of today’s state of the city address was to focus on what needs to be improved in the future.

City manager- Jeff Fleming said “I think one of the major focuses is higher education innovation, our downtown revitalization and then also the housing market here in Kingsport”.

But Fleming tells me, one topic in particular will be a big target for improvement this year–

Fleming said “as we listened to newcomers they tell us repeatedly– you have a tremendous arsenal to work with– why don’t you market it better?”

And Mayor Clark says that while Kingsport maintains one of the lowest costs of living and highest qualities of life– the industrial town is still struggling to add significant growth and capitalize in four distinct areas–

Mayor Clark explained the four areas: “one is to have more residents in our town, more businesses, more visitors, and last but not least, developers.”

Another road block on the city administration’s road to success is that Kingsport does not have ample land mass to expand.

“We’re landlocked– we don’t have a lot of growth expansion opportunity– we don’t have those nice rolling farm hills” said Mayor Clark.

But it does have an advantage in one area– and that’s the land size of Kingsport’s downtown district– which is three times the size of Johnson City and Bristol’s downtowns combined.

Fleming said “I do think we will see some population growth but it will be a very stable population growth and I think that’s what folks appreciate about our community– is that you’re not going to outgrow the decisions that brought you here in the first place”.

City manager– Jeff Fleming says the city has already begun hiring for a marketing and p-r department for the city. And he hopes that will give Kingsport the boost that it seeks in attracting more residents.

Copyright 2015 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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