BRISTOL, Tenn. - Shari Brown is one busy lady. As the head of planning and development in Bristol, Tennessee she oversees plans for new businesses in town and lately that's a lot.
"Our permit levels for construction are more than triple what they were last year," says Brown.
A lot of the work is off of Interstate 81 at The Pinnacle, where Belk and Bass Pro Shop are going. Across the interstate from The Pinnacle is where a new Fairfield Hotel is planned.
Brown says she's also seeing a lot of interest near downtown Bristol. "It's not necessarily all concentrated in the downtown area. We're getting a fair amount of interest in the periphery of downtown," adds Brown.
Plans are under review for a new Cootie Brown's restaurant near the Bristol Chamber of Commerce. Just a few blocks down Volunteer Parkway a new car wash is going in. "It's very encouraging. We're seeing folks really have the desire to think about building new things and expand what they have," says Brown.
Brown tells us there's even talk about changing existing buildings and breathing new life into old places, like the strip mall on Volunteer Parkway that was once home to Hill's Department store. "Periodically we do get inquiries from folks about finding some kind of adaptive reuse for that building. Obviously a department store or a grocery store may not be the best use in there, so we're continually getting inquiries about that."
All of this is good news for the Bristol Chamber of Commerce. "For us it's very exciting because that just means our economic base is growing and thriving within the community. Whether they locate on the Virginia side or the Tennessee side," says Paula Hurt, the Interim Director and CEO of the Chamber.
Even more business plans may be coming. Brown tells us more announcements are expected in the few months.