Economic development officials last week outlined the city’s strategy when it comes to fostering and promoting economic growth within the City of Kingsport.
The plan is multi-faceted and involves a number of steps, including:
- Working with local developers to attract businesses to Kingsport.
- Creating a Healthy Economy Dashboard to track the health of Kingsport’s economy.
- Conducting a survey of existing businesses to understand their needs/concerns.
- Visiting existing businesses on a regular basis.
- Continuing with the redevelopment of the Brickyard property.
- Utilizing partnerships with local economic organizations.
- Facilitating opportunities for local entrepreneurship.
“A recent community survey found a majority of residents had concerns about Kingsport’s economy, shopping opportunities and the vibrancy of downtown. That sent a clear message to us,” said John Rose, economic development director for the city. “Through our strategic plan, we intend to face these concerns head-on and work diligently in the coming years.”
Rose outlined Kingsport’s economic development efforts to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen during a day-long, strategic planning session held Friday (Feb. 25) at city hall.
According to Rose, downtown Kingsport has seen more than 20 new businesses open within the past year and notes the Haggle Shop and Variety Gifts both plan to reopen with a new concept.
Two investment firms are looking at a possible development on the east side of downtown, which could include a multi-purpose building with residential, commercial and parking areas, with an adjacent park.
Kingsport Nutrition opened last summer in the Greenacres Shopping Center, Tractor Supply on E. Stone Drive opened last fall, Ashley’s Home Furniture is relocating to the old Best Buy building on Stone Drive and Dollar General opened two new stores in Kingsport in 2021.
New businesses coming soon to Kingsport include Scooter’s Coffee, Backyard Burgers, Huey Magoo’s and Fast Pace Urgent Care.
In the industrial arena, both Eastman Chemical Company and Domtar had major announcements in 2021. Eastman plans to build a $250 million plastic-to-plastic molecular recycling facility, while Domtar plans to spend $350 million on renovating and expanding its Kingsport facility to produce containerboard.
When it comes to retail and shopping – another concern among many residents – Rose said the city is working with the representatives of the Kingsport Pavilion and East Stone Commons to fill vacant spaces, and the Fort Henry Mall to develop out parcels for retail and restaurant offerings.
“There’s multiple letters of intent on commercial land in Kingsport,” Rose said. “Plenty of things are happening within the city and hopefully in the near future we can share more details about those projects.”
On the residential front, Kingsport has more than 2,500 housing units in the works. Based on 2020 U.S. Census numbers, which comes to a 15.7% growth in the population.
One project of note is the further development of the Brickyard property – now called Brickyard Village. Edens Investments of Raleigh, N.C. plans to bring 380 single family homes, duplexes, townhouses and apartments to a 30-acre site on the property.
“We’re on track to potentially see double-digit growth in our population in the next three to five years,” Rose said. “That could be as many as 7,000 new residents to Kingsport.”
In a recent community survey, a majority of residents see Kingsport as a good place live, raise a family and retire, while appreciating the quality of parks and recreational opportunities found within the city.
Within the last year, Kingsport has relit the tennis courts and improved ADA access at Borden Park; added amenities to Preston Forest Park and is in the process of creating eight pickleball courts at Riverview Park.
The new Scott Adams Memorial Skate Park is currently under construction at the Brickyard property, a third round of improvements is coming to the Lynn View Community Center (pickleball court, basketball court and picnic shelter), and the city recently approved the first phase of development for Riverbend Park.
In all, Kingsport is continuing to take its parks and recreational opportunities to the next level for its residents.
“City officials have long supported and promoted the parks and recreational programs, seeing both as integral to making Kingsport the best place to live, work and raise a family,” Rose said. “And we believe the citizens will be thrilled with the plans we have in the works for our parks and community centers, especially with all of the new pickleball courts and the new skate park.”