BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — From large companies like Amazon and Smith & Wesson to smaller businesses like local breweries, entrepreneurs have their eye on Blount County.

“There’s a lot of excitement right now in Blount County, especially in the Alcoa and Maryville areas,” said Jeff Muir, the Director of Communications for the Blount Partnership.

Muir said in addition to bigger players moving in, a handful of private investors are working to refurbish buildings in the Downtown Maryville area. He said they’re turning these buildings into hotels, apartments, restaurants, and event centers.

Muir added the Alcoa community is starting to use the Springbrook Farm area as their center hub.

“It started as a town-company city way back about 100 years ago and they never established a downtown area,” he explained.

He said upgrades like downtown improvements are all part of the quality of life they’re trying to build.

“I think the big focus that we’re really trying to hammer home is we’ve done a good job of bringing in the jobs here, like Smith and Wesson and Amazon and even some of the smaller things like company distilling and those type of things, but now we’re really focusing on community development,” said Muir. “Making sure that the people that live here for generations to come have jobs, have security, have places to live, and also have places for entertainment.”

Muir said in addition to re-vamping the downtown areas, a key upgrade for younger generations as they enter the workforce will be a greenway system.

“We’re actually working on the final stages of connecting it to Knoxville so you can go to Downtown Knoxville from Downtown Maryville,” said Muir of the future greenway connection. “That will be an exciting thing you’ll see in the next couple of years.”

Muir said keeping local graduates and attracting young professionals to the area is a key focus for the Blount Partnership.

“We graduate over 1,300 students in our public school system every year and so they need a place to go, a place to start their careers,” said Muir. “Not all of them are going to go to college, and even if they do go to college, we want them to come back and start their careers here.”

Muir lastly said he wanted to ensure the community that the growth Blount County is seeing is manageable and sustainable.

The Blount Partnership is located at 201 South Washington Street in Maryville, Tennessee.