BRISTOL, Tenn./Va. - New shopping centers and plans for the future were the topics of the first "State of the Cities." Bristol Virginia and Tennessee came together to discuss what each city is doing to bring more people into the area, and what they are doing to help those who are already here.
Construction sites aren't uncommon in Bristol, Virginia and Tennessee, and city leaders are hoping new shopping centers will bring more jobs and people to the area. "That's going to give us a platform to recruit some high-paying jobs, professional skilled jobs into the area," says Bristol, Tennessee Mayor Michelle Dolan.
"The money is there to spend you can see it in this area, but also it's going to give jobs to the local people," adds Bristol, Virginia Mayor Guy Odum.
Development and jobs were some of the topics discussed at the first State of the Cities. Both projects are moving along. At the Falls the new cell phone tower is going up. At the Pinnacle, "Bass Pro Shop is getting ready to take over their site pad Monday and start pouring concrete," says Dolan.
The growth doesn't stop with the shopping centers; both mayors say downtown is thriving. "The common goal is that we have to make downtown the place to be where shoppers come in," adds Odum.
Downtown business owners tell us they're encouraged by the growth, even if it isn't going on in downtown. Regardless, the growth is a positive impact for all. "We're even looking at expanding some hours with a lot of the merchants to stay open on Thursday evenings," says KP Duty owner Lisa Martin.
Another topic important to both cities is education. Both cities are dealing with aging schools and they are looking at the best solutions for the school systems and students. "What kind of education do students get, and what they want to know is if the schools doing what they need to be doing with their kids," adds Odum.
Meanwhile, Martin tells us she can't wait to see what's next for the cities. "I think there is a lot of excitement going on," says Martin.
Both mayors told us they think Bristol is seeing huge growth and they hope that continues. Right now the major focus is getting both shopping centers complete and open for business.