Promotion of downtown in Johnson City reaping rewards

(PHOTO: M. Lucas / WCYB)

Johnson City's event calendar is filled to the brim and managing that while also serving as the downtown development director at the Washington County Economic Development Council was just too much for one person.

"Have someone there whose sole responsibility is events and marketing for downtown," said Dianna Cantler of the council. In 2016, Johnson City hosted 32 stand-alone events on top of their regularly scheduled activities. It's all part of an on-going initiative to revitalize downtown. David Campbell who has worked at Campbell's Morrell Music shop at the corner of West Market and North Commerce streets for three decades says it's an amazing location now but that wasn't always the case.

He says the area used to be dark and dingy but now, it's full of life.

"With all the new sidewalks, new pavilion, new park, there's a lot of foot traffic, much more than ever before," he said. A new business just across the street is also benefiting from the continuous improvements.

"It's a great situation that as an employee I have trouble parking because there's so many people here," says Trek Store worker Jesse Hayes. Chad Wolfe owns the bicycle business. He was looking at several locations like Asheville to set up shop but eventually decided to make the Tri-Cities home. "He drove over to Johnson City and just realized this is kind of the future," Hayes said. Mountain biking is just one part of Johnson City's outdoor recreation program. The new marketing director will be tasked with expanding that revenue stream. "Bringing people in to live here who are interested in a lifestyle that includes outdoor recreation," said Cantler. Reagan Streetman first day on the job as Johnson City's marketing and event coordinator is Tuesday.

The Johnson City Development Authority requested funding from the city for the position, resulting in an allocation of a little more than $40,000. Streetman has a marketing background and prior experience with the Birthplace of Country Music museum in Bristol, VA.