BRISTOL, Tenn.  The Bristol Chamber of Commerce announced an initiative Monday to create a 25-year vision and action plan for the economic and community development of the Twin City.

The Bristol Chamber of Commerce and the Bristol2040 Steering Committee will embark on an eight-month process to create a long-term blueprint for what Bristol and surrounding Sullivan County, Tennessee, and Washington County, Virginia, can and should look a quarter of a century from now. The effort will be in consultation with Market Street Services, an Atlanta-based firm specializing in community and economic development.

Beth Reinhart president and CEO of the chamber, said there hasn’t been a structured strategic plan since the early 1990s.

To create the blueprint, Bristol2040 will identify the region’s strengths, weaknesses, and competitive standing so it can get a comprehensive view of a healthy future that embraces the economic, social, educational and cultural makeup of the area, according to the chamber.

The process will kick off with a series of focus groups and individual interviews with more than 80 local leaders representing business, government, education and civic sectors. The results of these interviews will be demographic and market data, competitive assessment findings, a target business analysis and a best practice community review and analysis to develop an economic development strategy for the region.

However, Bristol2040 is looking for additional community feedback through a 15- to 30-minute survey on its website.

The initial funding is provided by an $80,000 grant received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Development Fund with future funding to come from investments from business and community stakeholders.

The steering committee is composed of 22 members, including Reinhart, Jim Maxwell, publisher of the Bristol Herald Courier, Jerry Caldwell, general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol Virginia Councilman Bill Hartley, Bristol Tennessee Councilman Chad Keen and others.

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