For decades the economic development functions of Johnson City, Jonesborough and Washington County were relegated to a few key staff from the county-wide economic development organizations and the city/county governments in the area. Fortunately these key staff through the years possessed the knowledge and expertise to create a strong economic base. However in the early 2000s, business owners, community leaders, and citizens were also ready to roll up their sleeves to grow job and business opportunities in Johnson City/Jonesborough/Washington County.
In 2003 local leaders throughout Washington County met to establish the first ever Johnson City/Jonesborough/Washington County Economic Summit. The government, community, and business leaders met to establish economic development goals, and set the foundation for a process that continues still today. The goal in 2003, as it still is today, was to elicit public input and support for critical economic development priorities. Local community and business leaders set the goals while focus groups and economic development professionals implement the goals throughout the year.
The Economic Summit is serves as both an event and a process. Every October the Economic Summit participants gather at the Millennium Centre in Johnson City to review successes, hear best practices, and set priorities for the upcoming year. The following case study delves into how Johnson City’s Economic Summit improved the organization by creating a process that allows community and citizen input into how the local economic development resources and dollars are used.