Community Stakeholders Report 
Quarter One - 2019
From the Desk of the CEO

Putting in Our Miles

Had I moved to Northeast Tennessee several years ago, I am sure that I would have never taken to my habit of running on a treadmill. When I was a young man, running was something everyone did outside, but I developed the habit of running on a treadmill that continues today. Some days when it is so beautiful and our mountains are green or better yet, bright yellow and orange in the fall, and there are only a handful of us inside the controlled elements of the fitness center to which I belong, I question cheating myself of this beautiful place I now call home.
Still, I stay within my comfort zone and on the treadmill. There's a lot to be said for the treadmill, like being able to set a pace I must maintain in order to stay upright; to set incremental goals. There is no harsh weather, no worry about whether the approaching dog is friendly, and no traffic issues. There is also the social aspect that comes with most gyms, including mine. Even with all of those considerations, in the end I am still spending a little over an hour simply running in place.
Economic development practitioners - regardless of personal health habits - all know this feeling. Much of what we do is done with nothing close to a guarantee of a payoff. The only certainty is that if we don't work hard on every aspect of our profession, there will not be a payoff. So, we track each lead, deliver our message to every logical corner it can reach, go take a look at every property someone promises is "perfectly flat" land, and search for every advantage that might help our communities.
We realized some solid benefit to our work with our partners in Kingsport a few weeks ago as we gathered for a groundbreaking at Anita's Snacks facility in Gateway Commerce Park. Anita's is adding a warehouse that will free up much of its current facility to add another production line which will lead to another 20-25 hires.
Again, we enjoyed evidence of good economic development work and solid place-making when we celebrated the opening of The Summit with Bristol officials earlier in the year. Although announced in December, Summit Consulting Service recently held an open house where they contract office services (payroll, human resources, marketing, and the like) as well as provide 10,000 square feet of co-working space.  Kingsport's Inventor Center opened soon after, providing residents with a place to learn new skills, foster community, or build a business.  It adds to the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in our region. 
These celebrations are a blessing because much of our time has been spent on the groundwork needed to maximize economic growth. Following up with the plan of work that emerged from last year's strategic planning retreat, we have been spending a great deal of time with our partners locally and at the state level working on product development. We continue to manage the  $1 million site development grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development for a rail site in Partnership Park II in Bristol as well as search for more industrial property throughout the county and opportunities to improve the marketability of existing parks and sites.
Of course, we continue to get our message out through various marketing vehicles, including our site location consultant outreach. Once again, we attended the Site Selectors Guild's Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Guild has grown to 51 members. We also are deep in preparation for our signature inbound marketing event, the Northeast Tennessee Red Carpet Tour, already receiving some "early bird" RSVPs from some of the nation's top consulting firms.
We met with a handful of consultants while in Atlanta recently at the MRO Americas Show. We partner each year with Tri-Cities Airport to exhibit at this aerospace industry show. This year, we also joined our partners at the Tennessee Economic Partnership (TEP) to host an off-site reception. We market all of our sites at this show, the property that generates the most interest is always Aerospace Park. Visitors to the airport have no doubt noticed the massive earthwork progress in recent weeks as that site's completion comes closer and closer to reality.
Speaking of Tri-Cities Airport, Gene Cossey has begun his new role as the airport's CEO and Executive Director. The airport lured Gene away from the University of Illinois Willard Airport in Champaign, Illinois. Gene has more than 30 years of experience in the industry.
While it's been fun getting to know Gene and welcoming him to the economic development team, we have also seen a couple of key players move on. Fortunately, they both have moved into positions where we will continue to work with them, just in different capacities.
In January, Governor Bill Lee announced that Dr. Jeff McCord is now the Commissioner for Labor and Workforce Development. Jeff, who served on the NETWORKS Board of Directors, resigned his position as vice president of Economic and Workforce Development at Northeast State Community College, where he was a key asset to our existing industries as well as our recruitment efforts. We were fortunate, however, that he was replaced by another familiar face and partner as Dr. Sam Rowell moved into Jeff's position from his previous role as president of academic affairs.
Congratulations to Lynn Tully, who will be leaving the City of Kingsport where she is Department Services Director. Lynn is joining the TNECD team as Northeast Regional Director, replacing Iliff McMahan who resigned in March to accept a position in the private sector. We are excited to work with Lynn and assist in any way we can as she embarks on this opportunity.
The NETWORKS family got a little larger in February as we welcomed Ronnie Price aboard. Ronnie, who has enjoyed a fantastic career in economic development over the past 30 years, is currently focusing on existing industry services as economic development specialist. When Ronnie told me about plans to retire from Weakley County in West Tennessee and move back home to his native Hawkins County at a conference a little more than a year ago, I knew we had to take advantage of his expertise, so Ioffered him a position on the spot.
Finally, Director of Marketing and Business Development Dana Glenn has begun as one of 25 people selected for the inaugural class of Leadership Tennessee NEXT, a program under Leadership Tennessee to prepare the next generation of our state's leadership.
As our friends and colleagues find new challenges and we explore every angle to give us a competitive edge, there are certainly no guarantees which of these initiatives will gain traction. One thing is for certain: we are definitely putting in our miles.
Upcoming Meetings
Executive Committee Meeting

 May 8, 2019

Northeast State Community College
Library - Room L106

Bristol Hiring Expo

NETWORKS is proud to sponsor the upcoming hiring expo, presented by the City of Bristol.
Site Selectors Guild 2019 Annual Meeting Highlights

Anita's Breaks Ground on 40,000 Square Foot Expansion


After less than a year at the Kingsport location, Anita's Snack Foods broke ground on a new 40,000 square-foot expansion.  Since opening in August 2018, the company has grown from 20 to 85 employees, with plans to hire 20-25 more when the expansion is complete.  Anita's manufactures snack foods, including tortilla chips.   [read more]
Property Review Continues

The NETWORKS Property Committee continues to meet and discuss potential properties for purchase and/or development.  Purchasing and developing property was an outcome of the strategic planning session, determined by the board and other stakeholders.

Most recently, the committee has approached the Sullivan County Commission for funding to complete a rail grading site in Partnership Park II (which received a $1M Site Development Grant from TNECD) and purchase additional acreage throughout the county.
NETWORKS & TRI Team Attend MRO Americas

Members of the NETWORKS team and Tri-Cities Airport staff attended MRO Americas in Atlanta, Georgia last week.  The team also hosted a reception in partnership with other Tennessee Economic Partnership (TEP) stakeholders.  MRO Americas is the aviation industry's premiere event.
Gene Cossey Named Executive Director at TRI

Following the departure of Patrick Wilson, Gene Cossey accepted a position as Executive Director of the Tri-Cities Airport Authority.  Cossey previously served as the Executive Director of the University of Illinois - Willard Airport.  He is an  Accredited Airport Executive with the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and is an International Airport Professional with the Airport Council International (ACI).    [read more]
Dr. Jeff McCord Named Commissioner of Department of Labor and Workforce Development

Following a successful tenure as Vice President for Economic and Workforce Development at Northeast State Community College, Dr. Jeff McCord was appointed Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development by Governor Bill Lee.  Through his role at RCAM, Dr. McCord played an integral role in the recruitment of various industries, most notably RMC Advanced Technologies.  [read more]
Lynn Tully Named TNECD Northeast TN Regional Director

Lynn Tully has been named the new TNECD Regional Director for Northeast Tennessee following the resignation of Iliff McMahan.  Tully will continue to serve as the Development Services Director for the City of Kingsport through April 26.  We wish her the best on this new endeavor and look forward to continuing to work together.   [connect with Lynn]
NETWORKS Team Welcomes Ronnie Price and Abby Mease

If you've visited the NETWORKS office recently, you may have noticed two new faces.  Ronnie Price joined the team in February as an Economic Development Specialist and brings over 36 years of experience to the team.  Prior to joining the NETWORKS team, Price spent 13 years as the CEO of Weakley County Economic Development Board and 23 years before that as the Industrial Developer for HCIDB.  [read more]

Abby Mease joined the team in November as an Administrative Assistant.  Before joining NETWORKS, Abby worked as the Accounting and Administration  Manager for Ovation Polymer Technology and Engineered Materials in Medina, Ohio.    

Dana Glenn Named to Leadership Tennessee NEXT
Director of Marketing and Business Development Dana Glenn was named as one of 25 members in the inaugural class of Leadership Tennessee NEXT.  The program offers early-to-mid career professionals in-depth personal and career development while fostering a better understanding of Tennessee.  

The program meets three times across the state in Memphis, Nashville and Greeneville. Each session will feature engagement with Leadership Tennessee Signature Program members, highlight issues and opportunities specific to Tennessee, and promote personal skill development.