Tri-Cities region growing as people move to area amid pandemic

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JOHNSON CITY/KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – According to a recent report by U-Haul, people coming to Johnson City and Kingsport in its one-way trucks rose by 24% during the past year, leading to the Tri-Cities region being dubbed the Number 12 growth city in America, by U-Haul.

According to the release, arrivals made up 52.1% of all one-way traffic via U-Haul trucks in the Tri-Cities region during 2020.

This came as a surprise considering this region wasn’t even on U-Haul’s radar in prior years. “Johnson City and Kingsport didn’t even show up on the 2019 trends for U-Haul and all these trends have happened in the past year and the state of Tennessee is their fastest-growing state,” Bob Cantler, President & CEO of the Washington County and Johnson City Chamber of Commerce.

Kingsport officials told News Channel 11’s Kelly Grosfield they’ve been monitoring this growth and have seen a significant amount of traffic into the city in terms of moving over the past year.

“We saw $62 million of real estate transactions from people that moved from more than 35 miles away, just in Kingsport alone. So if you spread that out to the rest of the region, it truly is economic development,” said Move to Kingsport, Relocation Manager, Jeff Fleming.

Fleming said Kingsport has that small-town charm but also offers the opportunities of larger cities such as having an airport nearby. He said it’s affordable, there are low property taxes, and the fact that there’s no income tax all play into the attractiveness of the area.

However, he said it’s not just Kingsport, but a number of cities across the region are seeing this growth, including Johnson City.

“We haven’t had a lot of growth over the past decade so it’s exciting to see this starting to happen and I’m sorry it took a pandemic to get the migration going,” said Cantler.

The news of migration to the region is also exciting for our local economy.

“Many of them are bringing with them their lifetime of accrued wealth and their assets and they are spending here so they end up driving the economy. This is a great, inexpensive way to grow your local economy,” said Fleming.

While Fleming said he was surprised to see the high ranking in growth, he’s not surprised people want to move here. He said sometimes people take for granted just how great this region really is.

“When you write down all the things that you might be looking for, the Tri-Cities is just an incredibly affordable, incredibly desirable four-season climate with access to an airport and within a day’s drive to half the Eastern United States,” he said.

For those who just moved to or are looking to move to the region, Cantler said the chamber has relocation pamphlets avaible that help individuals get settled in the region and highlights area businesses.

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