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Kingsport hires consultant to evaluate downtown incentives

Matthew Lane • Aug 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — The city of Kingsport has hired the former executive director of the Johnson City Development Authority to evaluate the city’s downtown incentives and make suggestions for improvement.

Bridgett Massengill is under a three-month contract with the city to serve as a special projects planner, working on several projects including revitalizing a loan pool program for the city and reviewing all of the downtown incentives offered by the city.

“It’s exciting for me to work with more communities than just one, and I like that because you’re able to find ways to help communities better improve the issues they’ve got,” she said.

Massengill served as the executive director of the JCDA from August 2004 until April 2007. She moved to Michigan with her husband in order for him to finish seminary school, then founded a consulting company in May 2007.

Massengill still lives in Michigan, where she is doing her work for the Model City, but plans to come back to the region in December.

“My husband’s employer will place us somewhere in East Tennessee or Georgia, so we’ll come back in December,” she said.

As JCDA director, Massengill created a downtown loan program and TIF (tax increment financing) district for downtown Johnson City as well as obtaining Tennessee and National Main Street accreditation for the city.

Massengill’s contract with Kingsport runs from July 1 until Sept. 30 and can be renewed by City Manager John Campbell for an additional three months. Her rate of pay is $40 per hour with a maximum amount of $35,000 over a six-month period.

Before signing this contract, Massengill worked for the city during the month of June, looking at Kingsport’s downtown incentive programs and preparing a report with suggestions and opinions on the programs. For this she was paid $3,177, or $80 an hour.

“What we asked her to do was take a look at all of our programs that are related to downtown — the loan pool, facade grant and reinvestment incentive — evaluate them and let us know if she thought we were being competitive and if there were suggestions for improvement,” said Jeff Fleming, deputy city manager for development. “We asked her to look at it and make suggestions for how we could give ourselves a competitive advantage, putting the correct incentive packages together.”

Fleming said Massengill has finished reviewing the city’s downtown incentives and is planning to review the report with city officials in the coming weeks. Fleming said Massengill’s pay rate would come from the money left over in the budget for Kingsport planner Sharyl Carter, who left the city earlier this year to be Bristol, Va.’s planning director.

“It worked out good because she has a skill set and talent that are very useful to us. It’s a better use of funds at the time to get the skills she has to offer,” Fleming said.

Another project Massengill said she has just started on is looking at the city’s radial streets report again — a report on the neighborhoods around Holston Valley Medical Center and Church Circle. That report was conducted several years ago by Carter.

“Now I’m looking back at that again with everything that is happening with Holston Valley and their expansion and offices located in that neighborhood,” Massengill said. “The city expressed a strong desire to do what they can to revitalize that neighborhood and make it more of a vibrant, traditional neighborhood.”

Massengill said she plans to be in Kingsport in about a week to meet with Holston Valley officials about their office space in the radial streets neighborhoods.

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