Jefferson County is in the process of looking at ways to attract industry and jobs to the area. County Mayor
Palmieri is looking for way to bring different opportunities to Jefferson County. The Mayor stated that he believes that Jefferson County is ideally located, being close to many major city hubs, to pursue a Corporate Industrial Park that could bring in positions with more economic benefits. Presently, there are few avenues of employment in Jefferson County that pay more than base wages. Mayor Palmieri stated that a Corporate Industrial Park would be more cost efficient, cleaner and bring in some, much needed, better paying jobs.
Palmieri would like to see the median household income in the County increased, which will necessitate that the County look into attracting employment other than manufacturing. He sees the County adding more distribution and corporate offices to the employment mix. The Mayor wants 2012 to jump start the push toward making the County desirable to Companies looking to locate in the area. The first step on the path toward this goal is to reassess the Counties Metropolitan affiliation.
Jefferson County has aligned itself with Morristown and is currently considered a part of the Morristown Metropolitan area, which includes
Hamblen, Grainger and Jefferson Counties. In order to be considered a part of a Metropolitan area, there has to be strong economical and social ties to that area. Metropolitan areas are used to define an area and can be instrumental in providing information to decision makers when in pursuit of new industry. Being attached to a metropolitan area declares that there is a sufficient amount of interaction with a particular area to establish mutual benefits that can be derived from the association. In short, the areas are closely tied together. In the case of a rural area such as Jefferson County, this means cultural, economic and educational opportunities can be garnered from the greater metropolitan area. Many business are attracted to locations that provide more urban opportunities. Jefferson County, though currently associated with Morristown Metropolitan, meets the criteria to join the Knoxville Metropolitan area. Statically, more than 25 % of Jefferson County residents are employed in the Knoxville Metropolitan area and it is considered as a part of that area when identifying modes to ease commuter traffic. It is named as a contributing factor in the Knoxville Regional Mobility Plan. Jefferson County is undeniably tied to both the Morristown and Knoxville Metro areas, however must declare an association with only one. The possibility exists that Jefferson County could reap greater benefit from an association with Knoxville, which has greater socioeconomic diversity and opportunities as well as having recently been named a great value city. An association with Knoxville will also bring ties to the Technology Corridor, which could be a boon to many industries. The Knoxville Metropolitan Area is much more populated and has a significantly larger industrial and business base which, in turn, brings greater exposure to the area. Mayor Palmieri stated that he is not unhappy with the Morristown affiliation, however, it is his responsibility to investigate all the doors that are open to Jefferson County and to try to help the County move in the direction that is best for its residents. He plans to consult with County Attorneys and seek their guidance and hopefully pass the issue of joining the Knoxville Metropolitan Area to the Jefferson County Planning Commission for review and recommendation to the Full Commission.