One of the cool, but often embarrassing aspects of my job is accepting accolades for the work of others. As I have stated many times, the NETWORKS staff is collectively the best economic development team with whom I have ever worked. Throw in our community partners and it is an amazing group of talented, creative, and energized professionals whose sum is even greater than its parts. When I receive compliments for the hard work and ensuing results of our team, I try to pass the credit on to the people most responsible for our wins - which is almost never me. What has always amazed me is that nobody on this great team of ours seems to care whether they get the credit for it or not.
Harry S. Truman is known for saying, "it is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." And I see that edict in action every day from my peers. Still, it is important that we know who is getting things done when determining where to invest resources, who to give a promotion, and what to plan for and expect in the future. Fortunately, we don't have any spotlight seekers on our team, or anyone not doing their part.
This is perhaps most evident during our annual
Northeast Tennessee Red Carpet Tour
, our signature marketing event. We just wrapped the fourth one up a little over a month ago. To date, we can track three projects that we have won directly to this event, totaling just under 1,000 jobs. At the great risk of leaving someone out, I am compelled to take this time to pass out some well-deserved credit to the folks who make this award-winning event such a success.
Michael Parker has been the Team Leader of this event since its inception and he has taken to it like a duck to water. His ideas to make the event better bring on more work for him, but he continues to come up with them and busts his tail in making sure each year's event is better than the last.
Brian Ritz and Dana Glenn are right there with Michael in constantly looking for ways to improve the event and asking to take on more of the load. During the event, as unexpected issues come up, they deal with them and I seldom even know about them until well after our guests have left so that my concentration can be on serving as the host to our site location consultants and partners.
Tom Anderson and April Eads, the Bristol team, and Lynn Tully of the City of Kingsport have taken the Thursday and Friday night dinners off of our to-do list. They amaze us each year with the attention to detail, which is often noticed and complimented by our guests. During the event, there is no task beneath them; when they see something that needs doing, the just do it. They are tireless workers and professionals in every sense of the word and I hope they realize how much all of us at NETWORKS appreciate them. Our newest team member, Rebecca Baker of Hawkins County, has fit right in and brings a positive, can-do attitude that has earned the respect of the entire Red Carpet Tour team.
Then there are all the great people with whom we work every day and take the time to add so much to this event by showing their commitment to economic development: Bill Sorah, Jeff Fleming, our Mayors, Board of Directors officers, IDB chairs of Bristol, Kingsport, and Sullivan and Hawkins counties, Patrick Wilson and Mark Canty of TRI, and on and on and on. Their involvement speaks volumes.
Our "Product" - By this I mean simply what we show our guests. This is very fabric of the event, because they each represent in their own way something we refer to as differentiating advantages. RCAM, Meadowview, Eastman, East Tennessee Distillery, Northeast State Community College, our existing industries (especially Bell Helicopter, Domtar, KPS Global, Robinette, Royal Moldings, and Seaman), Tri-Cities Airport and of course...
Bristol Motor Speedway. Without this world class event, we would not have the hook to get some of the top site location consultants in the country to this event. BMS has supported us beyond what I could have possibly ever expected and to Jerry Caldwell, Julie Bennett, Meri Beth Garland, Sheila Long, and the entire staff, I just say thank you.
Our regional partners - the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce (who has been with us since the beginning), Blount County Partnership, Greene County Partnership, and, as of this year, Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership - are vital in demonstrating to the site location consultants and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development that our
region can come together as a team.
Every thank-you note I've received comments on the impressiveness of our regional cooperation.
Our partners at TVA, AEP, NETVRIDA, and of course, TEP (with a special shout-out to Jena Thomas) contribute much more than money to this event. Their relationships and reputations among the site selection community add to our credibility. Their participation speaks volume to the value this region has in their eyes.
And, of course, having so much representation from TNECD means everything to us. Not only does it demonstrate our region's value to the consultants, having them here becoming more familiar with our product and seeing how well this team works together gives them the confidence to recommend projects consider us.
So, if you ever happen to direct some kind words my way about our economic development team's fine work, I might not always go through the long list of folks who really make it happen, opting instead to just save time with a reply of "thank you." But please know this: our successes - both large and small - don't happen because of that goofy mug you see atop this newsletter every three months, but instead the real credit belongs to all the remarkable people who put the smile on it.