HomeCarter County Economic DevelopmentChanges for the Better – Progress Report

Changes for the Better – Progress Report



















Elizabethton Star – April 9, 2017

Early last year, I shared with you Carter County’s plans for 2016-2017 with focus being on “Changes for the Better.” Today, I would like to share with you a few of our many accomplishments.

First, I am pleased to report that the Carter County Commission voted in the affirmative on June 20, 2016 to join the Northeast Tennessee Regional Partnership (NETRP), an economic development venture with Carter, Washington and Unicoi Counties. The partnership officially kicked off on January 26, 2017. The Partnership’s framework is a five-year action plan; Vision 2021.  Included therein are the resources that are necessary to sustain a strong and vibrant economic development alliance.

Also, Carter County established a new and complaint Joint Economic and Community Development Board (JECDB). It’s inaugural meeting was held on August 16, 2016. During the December 13, meeting of the JECDB, I shared with the new Board that my office had made several contacts with hotel investor developers. One of the major international hotel groups that we met with made very clear to us the company would not make a 10-13 million dollar capital investment in Carter County without a feasibility study. One compiled by an industry recognized consultant reflecting positive results. Recognizing the urgent need, Mr. Rob Toney a member of the newly formed JECDB and Director of the Elizabethton Electric System secured funding for a feasibility study. The contract has been signed and the study is well under way. We hope to have the results within the next 45 days.

The State of Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission “is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. To grow and strengthen Team Tennessee, the department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth.” Carter County Government is committed to supporting the State of Tennessee’s mission and is committed to working closely with the State going forward to do everything it can to ensure that Carter County is a member of Team Tennessee. To that end Carter County Government now has its “first ever” University of Tennessee Certified Economic Developer on staff, Ms. Susan Robinson. She is working diligently with the State of Tennessee on grant applications and economic development projects.

Our first success came on January 20 of this year when Ms. Robinson applied for a competitive Tennessee Economic and Community Development Marketing Assistance Program Grant. The grant was awarded to Carter County on February 6.  The focus of said grant is corporate attraction and it has an estimated value of $100,000. The State has retained DesignSensory to create a marketing promotion video, brand, message and new marketing website for the County.

I am especially excited about the First Tennessee Development District’s recent ACT Work Ready Communities Initiative. Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington Counties have begun the process of becoming an ACT Work Ready Certified Community. This process aligns education, business and economic development around a common platform using the National Career Readiness Certificate as the basis for gauging work readiness. The NCRC measures an individual’s skills in the areas of applied math, reading comprehension and reading for information. Certificates are awarded at the bronze, silver, gold and platinum level based on an individual’s performance.

When individuals earn the NCRC, they become part of a robust workforce that helps their community’s economy thrive; which ultimately benefits everyone. This initiative is significant in that the eight county governments which make up the FTDD have acknowledged the absolute need of regional cooperation and are now moving forward to make our area the best it can be. I am in absolute support of this action and will do everything possible to expedite the process.

My office has also been working closely Carter County Tourism Coordinator, Ms. Kayla Carter. She recently made application through the county for a Tourism Grant. The grant was awarded in the amount of $20,000. It will be used to hire a consultant to create an Assets Inventory for Carter County. This will be most beneficial in marketing and promoting our beautiful area.

Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” It is my opinion Carter County has finally learned that lesson. It is truly “a new day” and we now have several new people on board with skillsets we have never had or never tapped into before. They have many wonderful new ideas, hopes and dreams. Their “out-of-the-box” thinking, passion and vision are making a difference for all the Citizens of Carter County.

It takes everyone working together, participating and getting involved to make changes for the better and we are seeing that! It requires a commitment by the Citizens “to care” about what goes on in the County and to let their voices and opinions be heard in a positive way.

We aren’t looking for armchair quarterbacks and we certainly don’t need help from obstructionists or destructionists. We need team players for Team Tennessee who can and will help make a difference and make changes for the better.

Over the past year we have seen a great deal of positive change. Carter County and its neighbors throughout the region have come together as one to make changes for the better for all of us! Let’s continue the success for many years to come.

Please feel free to contact me at or by phone at 423-542-1801 if you have any questions or if I can be of assistance to you. My office is located at 801 East Elk Avenue, Suite 201 located in the County Courthouse in Elizabethton. I have an open door policy and everyone is always welcome.

Leon Humphrey

Carter County Mayor