Community Stakeholders Report 
 1st Quarter - 2016

From the Desk of the CEO...

Eliminating the "Ifs"

I can remember it as if it were yesterday: my high school football receivers coach shaking his head impatiently as I tried to explain why I deviated from the playbook on my route and how it could have worked if only...
Coach Martin interrupted me and ended the conversation by saying, "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas."
I've applied that simple, yet in many ways profound philosophy throughout my life and was reminded of it again recently and how it pertains so often to economic development while I was attending the Site Selectors Guild Conference in Nashville. During one particularly insightful session - this one consisting of corporate real estate executives - a panelist said regarding site selection: "If three ifs are required for a project to work on a site, it's not going to happen."
So much of economic development success boils down to eliminating the ifs; whether we're mindful of it or not, it's what we spend a great deal of time doing even when it's not all that apparent.
Our Virtual Building program is needed if a client needs a building or if a client is in fast track mode. NETWORKS and City of Bristol staff have met numerous times to move this project forward and, with the fine work of JA Street & Associates and Cumberland Marketing, this product will be rolled out next quarter. (Our next step for this project is eliminating another if, as we hope to secure grant money to assist with site prep up to the point of making it pad ready.)
What if we don't have the proper business friendly story to tell? Our leadership throughout Sullivan County and in Nashville and Washington have spent decades eliminating that issue. But having done all the hard work that makes us Where Tennessee Begins Its Business Day isn't optimized if we're not telling our story effectively to the right audiences. With our partners, we tell it to three primary groups: site location consultants, our targeted industry sectors, and our lead providers such as the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
One such success from those marketing efforts was realized recently with the announcement of Agero in Bristol (see related story). That lead came directly to us because the site location consultant firm, E Smith Realty, was familiar with our region after some of their key consultants had attended our Red Carpet Tour. In fact, we're currently working hard with our partners, including Bristol Motor Speedway, on the 2016 Red Carpet Tour.
Other specific marketing efforts recently have included sponsorship and participation in the Site Selectors Guild Conference in Nashville (see related story), several visits with the TNECD, including the Tennessee Economic Development Council (TEDC) Day on the Hill, participation in the Tennessee Economic Partnership (TEP), and, most recently Executive Project Manager Michael Parker's participation in the Southern Economic Development Council's (SEDC) Meet the Consultants event in Atlanta.
Of course, all of these marketing and recruitment efforts would be offset if we were to lose a large amount of our existing primary employment base. While most of the existing industry services are provided by our partners in Bristol and Kingsport, our FIRST (Focus, Innovation, Results, Synergy, Together) program is designed to tie these efforts together as well as provide a vehicle for our major employers to meet and build their own networks with each other. We have some exciting services in the works for that group to be completed later in the year.
None of these initiatives will be successful if we did not have a great team of economic development professionals, elected officials, board members, city managers, and other partners. Fortunately we do. This is why that while every day in Northeast Tennessee is not Christmas, it does feel like it.

Upcoming Meetings
Full Board

April 13, 2015

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

Northeast State Community College
Library - Room L106

In This Issue
Agero Announcement
Nearly 600 Jobs Coming to Bristol

Leading provider of vehicle and driver safety, security and information services company, Agero, Inc., announced in early March that it would locate its sixth inbound call center in the former Sprint building in Bristol. Agero's other call centers are located across the United States, including one in Clarksville, Tennessee. The company is headquartered in Medford, Massachusetts.
The company, which is investing $3.5-4 million, plans to employ 585 people. Agero will hold job fairs in the upcoming months to fill a variety of positions, including response associates, supervisors, operations managers, a contact center director, and various human resources, information technology and facilities staff.
"Agero's decision to create 500 plus jobs in Bristol is not just great news for our city but for our entire region," said Bristol Mayor Lea Powers. "For Agero and Bristol, it is a win-win relationship. Many families are struggling for jobs throughout our area. Helping to create jobs is one of the most important things we can do for a family. Every day is a new opportunity for us to economically promote our community on behalf of the hardworking and talented people of this area. We greatly appreciate Agero's investment in Bristol and the surrounding region."
"More than 12,600 Tennesseans work in nearly 200 telephone call centers across the state, and it is great to have a company like Agero strengthening our Team Tennessee workforce by creating these valuable jobs in Sullivan County," Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd said. "We appreciate Agero choosing to locate this facility in our state and look forward to future success."
To learn more about Agero, visit To apply for a position, go to
Officials Welcome New Company
Pure Foods Hosts Open House to Celebrate Opening HQ, Manufacturing Plant

Governor Bill Haslam, Lt Governor Ron Ramsey, Congressman Phil Roe, Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable, Kingsport Mayor John Clark, and other elected officials and dignitaries joined Pure Foods executives in January to celebrate the opening of the company's new US headquarters and manufacturing facility in Gateway Commerce Park in Kingsport. The makers of healthful snack foods purchased the NETWORKS speculative building in 2015 and have recently completed its build-out.
"We have multi-capability certifications in this plant - gluten-free, allergen controlled - all of that. Not a lot of manufacturers have that," President and CEO John Frostad said. "If you were to see the engineering diagrams of the flow of air, for instance, you would see that it only flows in one way (to ensure on contaminants don't find their way into the product). You can't have one little trace of anything."
The company, founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, invested more than $22 million in its new facility and plans to employ 273 people.
"We want to welcome Pure Foods to Tennessee and thank them for their investment in Kingsport," Governor Bill Haslam said. "Our geographic location and skilled workforce are incredible advantages when we're out recruiting businesses to Tennessee and when a company establishes its US headquarters and manufacturing operations in Tennessee, it sends another clear signal that we can compete with anyone."
Team Tennessee Hosts Consultants
Site Selectors Guild Conference Held in Nashville

The Annual Site Selectors Guild Conference was held in Nashville in late February. NETWORKS joined other leading economic development organizations across the state, including the host Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, TNECD, and TVA as sponsors of the two-day conference that brought together practicing professionals from all over the world as well as site location consultants. Topics included infrastructure, workforce, and the state of site selection.
"NETWORKS was a key partner of the conference," said Nashville Chamber Chief Economic Development Officer Courtney Ross. "Their sponsorship further demonstrates their aggressive marketing strategy for Northeast Tennessee."
About four dozen site location consultants participated in the conference.
Recognition for Local Industry
Eastman Once Again Makes Most Ethical Companies List

Kingsport-based Eastman, a global specialty chemical company, was recognized for the third straight year as a World's Most Ethical Company by the Ethisphere Institute. It was one of only two chemical companies to receive the honor.
"For nearly 100 years, Eastman has taken pride in doing business with integrity," Chairman and CEO Mark Costa said. "I'm beyond proud of our Eastman team for earning this prestigious award."
The World's Most Ethical Company assessment is based upon the Ethisphere Institute's Ethics Quotient (EQ) framework developed over years of research and vetted and refined by expert advice from a Methodology Advisory Panel. The EQ offers a quantitative way to assess a company's performance in an objective, consistent and standardized manner. The information collected provides a comprehensive sampling of definitive criteria of core competencies, rather than all aspects of corporate governance, risk, sustainability, compliance, and ethics.
"We believe it takes more than strong business results to build a great company," said Vice President and Chief Legal and Sustainability Officer David Golden. "It takes each and every one of us, every day, conducting business within a culture of the highest ethical standards. It's also important for us to look beyond our own walls and find ways to have a positive, sustainable impact in the communities in which we live and work."
Volunteer State Products Featured
Made in Tennessee Exhibit Held at Birthplace of Country Music Museum

A new exhibit at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum opened recently, featuring a variety of products manufactured in the Volunteer State. "Made in Tennessee - Manufacturing Milestones" will run to the middle of August. Items produced by about 50 Tennessee companies (including Northeastern Tennessee firms LC King Manufacturing [Bristol] and Mapes Strings [Elizabethton]) are featured.
Admittance to the exhibit is included in the regular museum admission price.
Year in Review
Annual Report Available

NETWORKS has completed its mailing of the 2015 Annual Report, featuring the top economic development news of the past year. However, more copies are available by calling 423-279-7681 and it can be viewed and downloaded from the organization's website,