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County to centralize all economic development groups

By KAREN SELLS
Assistant Editor
[email protected]
Members of the Johnson City/Jonesborough/Washington County Economic Development Board pledged their support of a new structure to centralize all economic development groups in one location for the greatest use of staff and resources.
In a unanimous vote during the Dec. 2 meeting, board members agreed to be included in the proposed Washington County Economic Development Council, which will be the umbrella organization with Robert Reynolds serving as CEO.
Other WCEDC organizations are the Johnson City Public Building Authority and the Johnson City Development Authority.
“The great thing (about the new structure) is to leverage private dollars for a greater investment,” said Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge. “There will not be many opportunities in the coming year.”
As a condition of its endorsement of the WCEDC, the JC/J/WC Economic Development Board will have a seat on the Executive Committee.
A transition team of Chair Lottie Ryans and members Pat Wolfe and Phil Carriger also was appointed to determine how the different functions of the organizations can be best combined.
Agreeing on a location for the WCEDC will be one of the first decisions for the group. Chamber of Commerce President Gary Mabrey said plans are continuing for the capital campaign to raise funds for a new Chamber building, which Mabrey said could potentially house all of the offices.
Eldridge, however, said the council must consider the first impression prospects will have of the area.
“This is the front door to our community, and we must take careful consideration of the facility’s location,” Eldridge said, adding he thinks the Med-Tech corridor is a perfect place to promote the desired image.