Goodlettsville, TN, population 16,000, has long been recognized for being the home of Corporate Headquarters of Dollar General, Tyson Foods and a nationally recognized park system. However, being a city that straddles two counties – one of which is Metropolitan Nashville / Davidson County – the city and residents would often feel as if it lacked its own identity and sense of community pride. City Manager Tim Ellis and other staff members started working to address these problems.
Over a 12-month period the city created four community engagement initiatives, linked together by an overarching branding campaign:
- Neighborhood Enhancement Program – Allows city officials and staff to have a more effective communication system with all delineated neighborhoods of the city regarding a variety of matters such as city projects, updates pertaining to the neighborhoods, as well as projects that the neighborhoods can do to improve the community. Examples include developing a resident contact list for social media and email notices, city grant programs for home and property improvements, unique neighborhood signage to define the boundaries of the neighborhood, and clean-up days.
- Goodlettsville Citizens Leadership Academy – A citizen engagement course designed to provide Goodlettsville residents with a better understanding of the workings of their municipal government and how city services are delivered. The program gives participants a comprehensive look into city departments, programs and services, and tours of city facilities. The Academy is free and designed for residents 18 years and older.
- My Goodlettsville Program – A community engagement program built on partnerships with residents and members of the community. The purpose of My Goodlettsville is to be where citizens, businesses, civic organizations and churches find opportunities to give back to the community for its betterment. Examples include:
- Goodlettsville Ambassadors Program – Allows community stakeholders to become directly involved in promoting their city and offering insight about Goodlettsville as a choice location for business, leisure, and a great residential lifestyle. An ambassador may serve in several ways:
- As a tour guide, public speaker, or greeter at public and community events on behalf of the City of Goodlettsville and Goodlettsville Area Chamber of Commerce
- Promoting Goodlettsville during day-to-day activities and when traveling in-state, nationally and internationally as a great place to live, work and visit
- Volunteering at local events , including festivals, expos, and tourism activities
- Assisting with managing projects based upon strengths, skills and experience
- Good In Goodlettsville Brand – Brings it all together. City staff, the Goodlettsville Area Chamber of Commerce and business leaders worked as a committee to brand the City of Goodlettsville. The committee learned that theirs is the only “Goodlettsville” in the world, and there wasn’t just one key thing that made the city unique. The group agreed that there are a lot of wonderful things to be grateful for in the city, and that they truly have it “Good In Goodlettsville”. The City began using the hashtag, #goodingoodlettsville on social media and had bumper stickers made to spread awareness of the new slogan, which is actually an old slogan that has been made new again. That fact connects the older residents and community members with the newer ones, which is what it was all about in the first place – bringing the community together.
A different city staff member manages and promotes each of the four programs and thus far the city has seen tremendous results. “The way our residents and business community have responded to each of our programs has been overwhelming in some ways,” said Tim Ellis. “It has definitely created a sense of ownership and pride within Goodlettsville.”
Meet the Manager
Timothy J. EllisCity Manager
Tim Ellis has served as city manager of Goodlettsville, Tennessee, since 2011, and has amassed an extensive and diverse 31 year career in local government, all in the state of Tennessee. He began his career as Recreation Supervisor with the City of Springfield, Tennessee in 1986, before becoming Director of Parks & Recreation for the City of White House. In 2003 he became Director of Parks, Recreation & Tourism for the City of Goodlettsville, where in 2007 he was named Assistant City Manager. He currently serves as a director on the Tennessee City Management Association Board of Directors and was honored to receive the 2017 City Manager of the Year Award from the Tennessee City Management Association.