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.