All cities want to attract new businesses that will provide its residents with well paying jobs. What qualities do you think a city should have to attract these kinds of businesses?
To attract new high quality jobs to Knoxville we must have a well-educated work-force and a high quality of life.
A well-educated work-force means schools that prepare students for jobs in every sector, whether medicine, teaching, or plumbing. As Mayor I will connect people to post high school apprenticeship opportunities and elevate career paths in trades such as electricians, HVAC repair and welding. These are high-skilled, well-paid jobs that cannot be bought on-line or shipped overseas.
During my 10 years on the School Board we strengthened our magnet and Project GRAD Schools and started the L&N STEM Academy, Career Magnet Academy, and the International Baccalaureate program. I was an early and ardent supporter of Community Schools, which helps schools address social and health issues, so teachers can concentrate on academics.
A high quality of life means a city that values diversity and inclusiveness, a city where every person can reach his or her full potential.
What is the best use of the former St. Mary’s Hospital campus?
Since Tennova chose to shut down this hospital my priority would be to make sure the property is converted to a positive re-use as soon as possible so we avoid blight.
I support Mayor Rogero’s plan to use part of the property for a new KPD headquarters, with a small area for KFD and a newly constructed space for our city courts. Our first responders’ current facilities are woefully out-dated, and the St. Mary’s site fits their needs as far as space, parking, central location and security.
For the remaining office tower and historic hospital building I would discuss ideas with the community, issue an RFP guided by that input and and see what proposals surface. A nursing school in the tower would connect well to Fulton’s school of Health Sciences. There’s a pressing need for affordable housing, especially for seniors and people with disabilities. Given the location so close to downtown II could envision a mixed use space for residential, office and retail.
What do you think are the best ways for the city to generate increased revenue?
The best ways to generate increased revenue are redeveloping blighted and under-utilized properties, and creating a city that attracts new businesses and encourages existing businesses to expand.
This requires a city that unleashes the entrepreneurial spirit of our people, a city that is run efficiently and transparently, a city that supports the arts, a city that is sustainable and resilient, in economic and human terms.
To catalyze redevelopment efforts we will make sure our infrastructure investments are aligned towards the greatest need, so underserved areas start to attract more private investment. Streetscapes and facade improvement initiatives are part of this approach, along with making sure current and prospective developers know about the tax advantages available via federal Opportunity Zones.