Kingsport City Manager Jeff Fleming reflects on long-time career with the city

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After 35 years with the City of Kingsport, City Manager Jeff Fleming plans to retire in June.

Fleming said he’s excited for this new chapter in life, with plans to spend more time with his family and visit the projects he spent years investing in like the Greenbelt and Bays Mountain.

Fleming began his career with the city as an intern in 1984.

“I was at ETSU and it was my first semester as a graduate student and I walked down the hall and there was a flyer advertising an intern position for the City of Kingsport,” Fleming said.

His internship eventually led to a full-time position with the city.

“I got my foot in the door and never really turned back,” Fleming said.

Over the course of the next 35 years, he would adopt the nickname ‘Mr. Kingspot.’ There may not be another person who loves the city as much as Jeff Fleming.

“I love this place just as much as I’ve always had,” Fleming said.

It’s a career he said came with challenges like the 1994 Eastman spin-off of Eastman Chemical Company from Eastman Kodak Company.

“They weren’t really sure if they were going to be able to make the plant work, so it was a real shock to the community,” Fleming said.

It’s an incident that followed by a decline in manufacturing in 1999. 

“We were hit by that very hard,” Fleming said. “We had well over 34% of our workforce was in manufacturing and manufacturing was shrinking so it was a very scary time. We got together and we had an economic summit, we talked about the future.”

Its challenges he said taught him a lesson.

“When one door closes another opens,” Fleming said.

After he retires, Fleming said he plans to continue to invest int he community through volunteer organizations.

“Whatever I can do to help,” Fleming said.

Fleming’s last day is June 21.

Kingsport Mayor John Clark said the Board of Mayor and Alderman will decide whether or not a new city manager will be selected by the current board or the next board following city elections in May.

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