Kingsport’s new economic development director aims to increase prosperity

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- Jason Hudson, Kingsport’s new director of economic development, says his job is about increasing prosperity for all citizens. 

“The best way to do that is through increased jobs, better wages, and helping grow the community overall,” said Hudson.

Hudson grew up in Kingsport and left to serve in the Navy for 23 years. After his service, he was happy to move his family back to his hometown.

Hudson

“Kingsport is a wonderful town. The quality of life, the stability, affordability factor, cost of living – all those things are very attractive.”

He began as economic development director in the second week of November. Previously, Kingsport didn’t formally have anyone in the position.

Hudson said one of his main goals was attracting and retaining two key demographics.

“The plan that I’m working on, I’m calling it the 25/65 plan,” he said. “By creating an ecosystem, a structure for 25 and 65-year-olds, catering to their needs, their wants, their desires, we’ll be able to fill a lot of things that these folks are looking for. Whether it be diversity in restaurants, retail, or job opportunities.”

For those job opportunities, Hudson is especially eyeing employers in industrial and technical fields. He said technical jobs would allow more people to work remotely.

“The coding and developer jobs, those jobs can work anywhere. So why not work where your cost of living is lower, and there’s such a wonderful array of outdoor activities?” he said.

Hudson said the city is in talks with external investors and employers with interest in Kingsport. Specific details on who might be bringing business to town will have to wait until plans are finalized.

“Within the next six months to a year, I’m hoping we’ll have some things to announce,” he said.

As for attracting retail to developments like the Kingsport Pavilion or Tri-Cities Crossing site, Hudson said this depends on timetables determined by private developers.

“Our job is to work with them and facilitate as they need us to engage,” he said.

While Kingsport has faced its share of economic challenges, Hudson is optimistic in his new role.

“Because the community is here, we have the infrastructure. It’s just a matter of executing it.”

Hudson’s past work with the city involved consulting on opportunity zones. Kingsport has two – one in the downtown area, and another in Hawkins County across from BAE Systems.

Hudson encouraged anyone interested in starting a business in one of these zones to come to free event at MeadowView on December 11. 

To register, you can visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/appalachian-highlands-opportunity-zone-road-show-tickets-81391559345

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