JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)- Downtown Johnson City continues to draw in new businesses and thousands of visitors each year but city leaders say the area still needs improvement. Reclaimed Inspired Goods owner Tina Wilson said, “I feel like a lot of people really don’t know what all downtown has to offer.”
As Johnson City’s downtown district grows, so does the need for more direction. Downtown Development Manager Dianna Cantler said, “When people come to a community, especially when it’s a walkable area, they need more information.”
Because of that need, the Johnson City Development Authority is funding a company called merge to research and design a new “way finding” program that will help navigate visitors.
Cantler said, “It’s making those connections from one place to the other. Which actually helps people spend more time here, which increases sales tax dollars, but it also gives people a way to get more information about the community.”
“So, I feel like if there was a map then that would help solidify downtown and people could make a plan to stay longer and know how to quickly navigate,” she said.
City leaders are helping decide the areas that should be highlighted in the new “way finding” program that will install directional signs and kiosks around town, mapping out different areas of the city by districts such as downtown, medical, commercial, and recreational areas.
Cantler said, “A kiosk is a way to give more information so that people will stay.”
“We would love it if people coming to downtown, maybe they’re only planning on staying for the morning but then they see that there is so much to do in Johnson City and they say ‘I better find a place to stay’ and make it a 2-day trip,” she said.
This plan will impact areas throughout the Johnson City limits but Cantler expects the first phase to be implemented in downtown. Cantler said, “You’re going to get an economic benefit from that very quickly.”
“The more visitors to downtown, the more sales tax dollars, and more businesses opening because they feel like the city is doing something to bring people downtown,” she said. Cantler said she hope to see the first phase of the “way finding” program implemented by this time next year.
Public Works Director Phil Pendzola says the city commission has already budgeted $250,000 this year to go towards funding the first phase of the “way finding” implementation.
More money will likely be needed to budget the additional phases over the next few years.
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