BRISTOL, Va. — City leaders received an update on the new Bristol 2040 visioning process unveiled last month by the Bristol Chamber of Commerce.
Alex Pearlstein, vice president of projects for Market Street Services, the Atlanta-based consulting firm managing the project, described the group’s initial steps in developing a long-term vision for both the Twin City and its adjoining counties of Sullivan in Tennessee and Washington in Virginia.
He described an eight-month process that began with receiving public input and forming a steering committee of community leaders, which is scheduled to meet today.
“We did over a dozen one-on-one interviews, we did focus groups with a number of different constituencies — young professionals, elected officials, city staff, economic development folks, industry — and the online survey has received about 550 responses, which is very strong,” Pearlstein said.
The online survey remains available this week for anyone who wants to participate, he said.
Mayor Kevin Mumpower predicted the process will be “interesting,” given that the government entities often compete with each other for businesses.
“You’ve got four entities, so somebody’s got to facilitate that process because it’s not going to happen just by chance,” the mayor said after the meeting. “I think the chamber picked the right firm, but, at the end of the day, it’s about seeing what results you get. I think if everybody takes the time to give them good input and the process works where that input gets discussed properly and everybody comes to consensus, I think it will be a good process. I think it will be a very interesting process.”
Mumpower said the city will continue with its marketing and promotional efforts but will see where it can cooperate more with its neighbors once the visioning process is further along.
“This is the first time we’ve tried to do something of this magnitude. You’re talking development, which has a big impact, with some very competitive people, and we’ve got very strong boundary lines,” the mayor said.
Councilman Bill Hartley, who serves as the council’s representative, said public involvement is crucial.
“This is an ongoing process, and there will be plenty of opportunities for members of the community to get involved because that’s the real driver and what will really make it great,” Hartley said.
In other matters, the council unanimously approved a series of proposed changes to its city charter and appointed Kevin Corbett to fill a vacancy on the Planning Commission.