Senior Pastor, St. John Missionary Baptist Church
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?
Of the qualities desirable to attract new businesses, I believe affordability and great schools are two of the most important components that need to be considered. Corporations and businesses of every type are concerned about their bottom line. Relocation has to be financially feasible for the organization itself, as well as for its employees. Employees also want to work and live in areas that have a quality education system for their children. Matters of connectivity and a sustainable infrastructure also should be taken into consideration, especially if the relocating businesses are hauling or moving freight. Additionally, a city that does not have amenities such as parks, greenspace, and diversity of culture are often overlooked by businesses looking to expand into other locations.
What is the best use of the former St. Mary’s Hospital campus?
I believe the best use of the former St. Mary’s Hospital campus would be a hospital. Tennova’s decision to vacate the area left a noticeable gap in emergency medical coverage in East Knox County, and as a result, lives are potentially placed in jeopardy. Because we cannot undo what has been done, I support efforts to convert the campus into the new home for our police officers and firefighters. The location is convenient, and the neighborhood appears supportive of the endeavor. With the additional space, I would potentially like to see another place, similar to the Change Center, for youth in the community or an area promoting entrepreneurship for members of the community.
What do you think are the best ways for the city to generate increased revenue?
First, I think you have to investigate wasteful spending (if there be any) to see where we might be able to save funds in that way. As far as generating revenue, it can be generated by minimizing the number of blighted properties and getting them back on the books. There are a number of properties throughout the city that are not meeting their maximum potential and as a result are costing the city money. Also, I believe that we have to be more judicious in the disbursement of PILOTs and TIFs so that those entities who can still proceed without them are still moving forth.