Community Stakeholders Report 
 2nd Quarter - 2015

From the Desk of the CEO...

Celebrating Our Nation's Corporate Independence


It's an exciting time to be Where Tennessee Begins Its Business Day. As we head into our nation's birthday celebration, we have enjoyed our taste of the American dream here in Northeast Tennessee over the past few months.


Most recently, Bristol welcomed Send the Light Distribution in early June. The distributor of Christian products such as Bibles and other books moved its operations from Carter County to the former A.H. Schreiber building, bringing with it 121 jobs.


In early May, Homeland Vinyl Products announced it had purchased a building in the Phipps Bend Industrial Park in Hawkins County. The company will employ 65 people immediately and hopes to add 40 more over the next few years, manufacturing vinyl fence, decking and railing products, and accessories.


Several initiatives you will be reading about in upcoming newsletters are designed for attracting new industry to Partnership Park II. NETWORKS and the City of Bristol have partnered to complete the water, sewer, electric, and broadband infrastructure throughout the park. (I am working with TNECD on adjusting some of the state's infrastructure assistance program that could lead to at least partial reimbursement down the road.) We are also designing a virtual building program (also referred to as a dynamic building program) for at least two tracts in the park. We are combining our staff's own experiences with and knowledge of these programs with some of our partners across the state who have created successful programs of their own so that we have the optimal program for this park and our county.


Our team continues to expand its work with existing industry through our FIRST program, with Brian Ritz, who joined our staff in late March, now heading up that initiative. 


Michael Parker has our staff and partners on task in preparation for our Red Carpet Tour in concert with the Tennessee Economic Partnership. As a TEP board member, I couldn't be prouder of the job our team did last year in hosting consultants from nine on the nation's top firms along with six senior staff members of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. This year's event promises to be even better than our highly lauded inaugural tour last year.


Brian and Michael have been just as excited as I have to welcome our newest staff member. Dana Glenn joined us in June as our Administrative and Marketing Coordinator. By her first afternoon in the office, she had revived our Facebook page and it had received nearly 100 likes. She is also busy updating our website and very involved in all of our ongoing marketing efforts.


We have so many great assets that are directly or indirectly connected to NETWORKS that have been bringing positive attention to us lately: our chairman Mitch Walters was recognized as a Junior Achievement Hall of Fame laureate; Eastman Chemical had two impressive items in the news with the announcement of a multi-year agreement to conduct collaborative research with the University of Tennessee and its recognition with an Energy Star POY Sustained Excellence award; NESCC President Dr. Janice Gilliam announcing the iNortheast program that will provide iPads to incoming freshmen this fall, news that came on the heels of the college winning a $75,000 Promise Forward grant; and the Tri-Cities Airport receiving the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission Award for Excellence.


Prospect activity has been steady but projects have been moving along at a relatively slow pace, all the more important that we have had our recent announcements and that, by and large, our existing industries are doing so well.


In May I participated in the Tennessee Valley Corridor National Summit held at East Tennessee State University.  The TVC is a multi-state organization established by former Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander in the 1980s which has grown into a leading player in establishing regional strategies and programs. Several of NETWORKS's key stakeholders and partners, such as Eastman Chemical and Tri-Cities Aerospace Park, were sponsors of the summit.


With the recent additions of Brian and Dana, our Red Carpet Event, less than two months away (that is a frightening thing to type, by the way), and working projects throughout the county and in the Phipps Bend Industrial Park, we have certainly been busy. And your support and belief in our efforts and the economic well-being of our county and region have been especially valuable and appreciated recently. It is truly a rewarding mission we approach every day. This is an appropriate weekend to appreciate that mission and that we live in a country founded on freedom, not the least of which is free enterprise.


Have a fun and safe Fourth of July weekend and thank you for all you do for our community, region, state, and country.

Upcoming Meetings
Full Board

July 8, 2015

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

Northeast State Community College
Library - Room L106

NETWORKS Welcomes Two New Staff Members

Brian Ritz  
Project Manager

Brian is a native of Kingsport, TN.  Prior to joining NETWORKS this May, he spent over four years as the Key Accounts Manager for BVU Authority in Bristol, VA.  Along with acting as Project Manager, Brian also leads the FIRST Existing Industry program.  He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business from Milligan College.


Dana Glenn
Administrative & Marketing Coordinator











Dana comes to NETWORKS from the Kingsport Office of Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship (KOSBE,) where she served as the Administrative and Marketing Coordinator for two years.  She currently manages NETWORKS' online presence, including social media and website updates, and is involved in all marketing and administrative activities.  Dana holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from East Tennessee State University.

NETWORKS welcomes the City of Bristol's newest addition to the economic development team 

Tom Anderson
Business Specialist

Tom previously worked as the President of Carter County Tomorrow, a community and economic development organization. Prior to going to Carter County, Anderson served as East Tennessee State University's Director of Economic Development for a rural economic development program. He holds a BS degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS and is pursuing his Masters in Public Management at ETSU.
New Businesses

Send The Light Distribution Relocates to Bristol, TN 

International distributor of Christian products brings 100+ jobs to Bristol, TN

The City of Bristol welcomed a new company to Bristol, Tennessee's Bristol Industrial Park.


Send The Light Distribution (STL) is one of the largest Christian product distributors in the world. The company leased the former A.H. Schreiber building, owned by developer Steve Johnson.

The company has local roots that date back to the early 1970's. Lea Powers, Mayor of Bristol, Tennessee said, "I am excited to welcome a company with such a long and valued history as Send The Light Distribution to the Bristol business community. We believe that this company saw the huge benefit that comes from locating in our city in terms of access to a superb work force and an ardent support system we offer to all our businesses from the small start-ups to large corporations."

Shari Brown, the city's economic development and community director, said she believes the company saw the huge benefit that comes from locating in Bristol.

"He (Bailey) is leasing the building, so the property owner took care of all the property renovations to make the building adequate for their needs," Brown said. "The city will see an increase in work force numbers by 100 employees with the move and the possibility of more through additional company contracts coming to fruition."

The city will see an increase in workforce numbers increase by more than 100 employees with the move and the possibility of more through additional company contracts coming to fruition.






Exerts taken from original article published in the Bristol Herald Courier by Tammy Childress on June 10, 2015

Homeland Vinyl Locates in Phipps Bend Industrial Park
Purchase of former Alladin Plastics plant will save 40 existing jobs and create 25 new jobs

A new company has purchased the former Alladin Plastics plant in Surgoinsville and will not only save the current 40 jobs there, but will also create an additional 25 jobs.

Homeland Vinyl Products Inc. has purchased a facility at the Phipps Bend Industrial Park that was most recently occupied by Engineering Plastics Corporation (EPC).

Homeland Vinyl Products is one of the largest manufacturers of vinyl fence, deck and railing systems in the U.S. Through this expansion, the company will move its manufacturing equipment from Colorado to the Surgoinsville location, which will allow for the addition of new product lines.

"We want to welcome Homeland Vinyl to Tennessee and I thank them for creating these new jobs in Hawkins County," TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd said. "Homeland Vinyl is a valuable addition to these communities and we look forward to their continued growth and success."

FIRST Meeting (Existing Industry)
Local Industry Leaders Attend the FIRST Meeting in Bristol to Discuss Local Workforce and Wages & Benefits Survey

NETWORKS held its latest FIRST program meeting on June 25 at the Foundation Event Facility located at 620 State Street in Bristol, TN.  The FIRST event was well attended as around 40 of our existing industry base and community partners were represented.  Immediately following the program, Dr. Keith Young, Dean of Off-Campus Programs and Services at Northeast State conducted a tour of the Northeast State of Bristol campus which also served as the host for the event. 

The FIRST meeting presentations were very informative and included a wide range of interaction with the audience.  The opening presentation was done by NETWORKS CEO Clay Walker and Times Digital Group's David Cate.  Times Digital Group was selected by NETWORKS to assist in producing & administering the Wages and Benefits Survey.  Dr. Young conducted a presentation which focused on Northeast State's perspective on meeting the needs of today's workforce.  The presentation also included information pertaining to the fascinating features of the Northeast State's Bristol campus located at 620 State Street in Bristol. 


Kingsport City Schools Superintendent Dr. Lyle Ailshie conducted the next presentation regarding AccelNOW's CEO program.  The CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) program allows high school juniors and seniors to experience skills such as starting their own business, spending time with a mentor from the business community, and visiting dozens of businesses each year. 


The final program of the afternoon was a presentation on the ACT Work Ready Communities certification process presented by Kathy Pierce, Executive Director of the Alliance for Business & Training.  This program is a process that links workforce development to education by individuals obtaining the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate and employers in our region recognizing that certificate. 


If you have questions pertaining to information covered at the most recent FIRST event or about participating in future FIRST events please contact Brian Ritz at 423-279-7682 or britz@networkstn.com. 

UPDATE - Wages & Benefits Survey


The 2015 Wages and Benefits survey is underway and will be rolled out in the next coming months.  NETWORKS selected David Cate of Times Digital Group to help administer and design the survey.  The survey will be eligible to the existing industries located within the footprint of Sullivan County. The key components of the survey are:  participation, anonymity, security, and added value to Sullivan County's existing industry base. 


The survey aims to provide a greater understanding of the current job market in Sullivan County.  This instrument will provide companies with wage and benefit information they can use to benchmark, evaluate, and make future decisions in addressing future workforce needs.  Companies who participate in the survey will gain access to the final survey results once all information has been received and calculated.  Finally, the most important aspect of the survey will be ensuring that the mechanics of the survey will be constructed in a manner that is secure and anonymous.  Measures will be taken to make sure that once the information is collected that any information tied back to that participating entity is destroyed.  This component produces an anonymous, confidential survey which will give both reliable and valid information back to our existing industry base and assist in the recruitment of new industry.


If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions regarding the 2015 Wages and Benefits Survey please contact Brian Ritz at 423-279-7682 or britz@networkstn.com.
Northeast TN Red Carpet Tour - 2015
NETWORKS Gears Up for Upcoming Red Carpet Tour

NETWORKS staff continues to prepare for the upcoming Northeast Tennessee Red Carpet Tour scheduled for August 20 - 23. The event is one of three Tennessee Economic Partnership-sponsored annual in-bound marketing initiatives. TEP is a marketing organization led by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and TVA, and supported by partner communities and other related organizations. 

The Red Carpet Tour is NETWORKS's signature in-bound marketing event held annually in conjunction with the Irwin Tools Night Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway. This event hosts up to 12 site location consultants from some of the nation's top firms to learn about our community first hand and experience one of NASCAR's premier racing events. 

NETWORKS staff is working closely with the Bristol Motor Speedway to secure accommodations for the event.

NETWORKS has received grants from several partnering agencies including: Tennessee Valley Authority - Economic Development (TVA-ED), Appalachian Electric Power (AEP), Tennessee Economic Partnership (TEP), and Northeast Tennessee Valley Regional Industrial Development Association (NETVRIDA).  

"The Red Carpet Tour culminating with the Bristol Night Race was an overwhelming success by all accounts last year," said NETWORKS CEO Clay Walker. "We had great attendance from site location consultants and partners from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, TVA, and TEP. Our team, which includes our staff, our partner cities and county, board members, and elected officials, made it such a success and I know they will make this year's event an even bigger success. I believe this is going to become a tradition and signature event for our region and state."