Community Stakeholders Report 
 December 2014

From the Desk of the CEO...

We'll Take a Cup O' Kindness Yet


As clich´┐Ż as it sounds in my head as I write this, the past year has flown by. I find it hard to believe I have been in Sullivan County as CEO of NETWORKS for nearly a year, but I must say that it has been one of the best years of my professional life. As most folks ring in the New Year at the stroke of midnight several hours from now (I'm sure I'll be fast asleep) and slur the words of Auld Lang Syne, my hope is that my friends consider the sentiment of that song's lyrics and that we continue to bond in 2015. I also hope and truly believe that our staff and stakeholders will do the same and that after this year - a year of change - NETWORKS is primed to do great things over the next 12 months and beyond.


We gained a great deal of momentum with our activities in 2014 and had some successes along the way with promise of more around the corner. Certainly new companies coming into our area, such as Heritage Glass and IntelliHARTx, grabbed most of the attention and headlines. And they deserve all the spotlight they receive. But I'm most proud of the work we did that set the groundwork for long-term success. Among the highlights of the year for me were:

  • The creation of the FIRST program to better coordinate, optimize, and expand the work NETWORKS and all of our partners do for existing industries
  • New investment and with it new hires at existing companies such as Home Shopping Network, Teleperformance (US Solutions), FedEx, Goessling, Royal Moldings, Eastman Chemical, and Diversified Power International
  • The TEP Red Carpet Tour culminating in the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, giving us the opportunity to display our unique business advantages to nine top consulting firms and six senior staff members of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development along with other regional partners
  • Our new branding campaign - Where Tennessee Begins Its Business Day - which has caught on not only throughout the region, but through the hallways and offices of TNECD and other lead-providing partners
  • The near completion of the NETWORKS spec building in Gateway Commerce Park
  • Working with Hickory Ground Solutions and Supply Chain Management as the sponsoring agency of a Supply Chain Study which promises to be the jumping off point of some meaningful existing industry and recruitment initiatives
  • The discussions we have had with the leadership in Hawkins County as we look to partner with them to further develop and promote Phipps Bend Industrial Park
  • Strengthening of our partnership with Tri-Cities Regional Airport and upgrading our joint recruitment efforts of companies in the aeronautics sector
  • The many visits to Nashville and working with our partners to raise our profile across the state as a big-time player in economic development, particularly with such a strong presence at the Governor's Conference for Economic Development
  • A great year of meaningful contact with some of the top site location firms in the country
  • Engaging Jacobs Creek Jobs Corps to do some much needed site work in Partnership Park II
  • Working together not only with our great partners within the county, but pulling together as a region and working with great folks like Iliff McMahan and Matt Garland at TNECD, Tim Tidwell of TVA, and neighboring county ED pros like Tom Ferguson, Tom Anderson, and Mitch Miller


Of course, we saw a great deal of change with Richard Venable retiring from NETWORKS and winning back his old job as Sullivan County Mayor. Former Kingsport City Manager John Campbell retired, but soon announced he would take over as head of AccelNow, replacing another great friend, Kanishka Biddanda. Bristol and Kingsport made great hires this year to fill their city manager positions in homegrown products Bill Sorah and Jeff Fleming, both of whom have welcomed and supported me so much that I don't have the words to adequately thank them.


I'd also like to thank Tommy Olterman, who retired this year from TVA, for his friendship, advice (some of which I had the good sense to take), and his years of commitment to economic development in our region.


There are so many people to whom I owe a debt of gratitude - Miles Burdine, Joy Madison, Lynn Tully, Shari Brown, Kristi Haulsee, Mike Sparks, Elaine Spalding, April Eads, Dr. Mike Browder, Isaac Webb, every member of my Board, our elected officials led by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, city and county IDB members, so many developers, contractors and the like, too many folks at Bristol Motor Speedway to count, and most of all, my staff of Jack Lawson, Michael Parker, and Marsha Fandl.


I think we have a great deal of energy and optimism heading into 2015 and I think it's all warranted. Change is seldom easy, so I would like to thank my staff, my Board of Directors, and all of our partners and stakeholders in eagerly accepting the changes that a new CEO brings to an economic development organization. You all have been right there with me throughout this year, making so many great things happen. Soon, you will receive an annual report detailing the things I've mentioned and many more.


So, as the song suggests, I raise my glass to you all as we bid farewell to an incredible year and as we go forward... together... old friends and new... into 2015 with a renewed commitment to our community, region, state, and nation. Happy New Year!


For auld lang syne my dear,

For auld lang syne.

We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,

For auld lang syne
Upcoming Meetings
Full Board

January 14, 2015

8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Northeast State Community College
Library - Room L106

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New Businesses
Healthcare services company, IntelliHARTx announced in December that it would bring 100 new jobs to the region within a year of moving into its downtown Kingsport location. The company, which has a spe-cific focus on healthcare patient balance accounts, forecast its employment to grow to between 350 and 500 people within four years. Its Leadership Center will be in the First National Bank building almost immediately and officials expect the Patient Contact Center on Commerce Street will open in January. Both buildings are owned by Urban Synergy.

"The educational centers, workforce ethic, community support, adequate employee parking, and developers like Urban Synergy make downtown Kingsport a perfect location to find employees who share our ITx core values," IntelliHARTx President & CEO John Kunysz said.

"This project will be a tremendous boost to the economy of downtown Kingsport and will be felt throughout Sullivan County and the region," Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey said. "I think IntelliHARTx will bring a great deal of energy to the downtown area, which is a very important part of a city's economic vitality."
Expanding Businesses
Flurry of Activity in Final Quarter

Home Shopping Networks, the multichannel retailer, announced plans to invest some $48 million in a new automated storage and retrieval system at its Piney Flats distribution center. Lamar Advertising, the nation's leading out-of-home advertising company, purchased a 2.5 acre tract in Gateway Commerce Park and began construction on a 15,000 SF facility. Memphis based FedEx announced plans to expand its FedEx Ground facility in Gateway Commerce Park. The announced expansion included the purchase of 5 additional acres and the construction of 40,000 SF of additional space. Piney Flats based Diversified Power International is nearing completion on a 20,000 SF expansion to its facility located in the Tri-County Industrial Park. The expansion will nearly double the company's current footprint. 
Product Development
Finishing Touches on Industrial Park Projects

Work on the spec building being constructed in Gateway Commerce Park is nearing completion. The 88,000 SF shell structure, being built by J.A. Street & Associates, has garnered lots of attention since NETWORKS began marketing it back in early 2014. Currently, NETWORKS is working with a prospective client interested in acquiring and finishing the building to   suit. 

Battered, outdated billboard-style signage was replaced in Partnership Park I near Tri-Cities Regional Airport and in Gateway Commerce Park (Partnership Park III) in Kingsport. Plans are being considered for a permanent entrance sign for Gateway Commerce Park and a billboard style sign for Partnership Park II.
Jobs & Investment
By the Numbers

By any measurement, 2014 was a solid year for Sullivan County and its cities of Kingsport, Bristol, and Bluff City. The announcement of about 750 new jobs is encouraging news, and hopefully an indication of things to come. Investments from new and existing businesses totaled more than $71 million in 2014. 

The figures listed above do not include many projects in which NETWORKS had minimal involvement such as an expansion of US Solutions, a Teleperformance company, which invested $280,000 and added 150 new jobs.