Community Stakeholders Report 
 3rd Quarter - 2015

From the Desk of the CEO...

"If the world were perfect,
it wouldn't be" - Yogi Berra

I love baseball. I always have. It was a great vehicle to make me closer to both of my grandfathers. It kept me and my brothers out of trouble - for the most part - growing up. In high school, it helped give me an identity and taught me how to lead. But mostly, I love it for the men who have played it and made it so great and taught me so much along the way. One such hero of mine has always been longtime New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, who passed away last week; not so much for his greatness behind the plate and with the bat, but because of his colorful witty sayings and all the sayings that were attributed to him. After all, as he once said (allegedly), "I never said most of the things I said."
Many Yogiisms, as they've become known, might appear at first glance to be contradictory ramblings of a less-than-highly-educated jock. Upon close examination, however, there was a depth of wisdom in most everyone. And to this day I seldom have faced a situation in my professional or personal life that couldn't be made a little easier through a Yogi quote, a Roger Miller lyric, or an Andy Griffith Show episode.
"You can observe a lot by just watching"
Anyone observing the activities of NETWORKS the past couple of years has seen a very direct, pointed, targeted approach to economic development, one that emphasizes telling our story to key players in economic development, both internal and external. One of those vehicles has been our work with the Tennessee Economic Partnership, most notably through our Red Carpet Tour culminating in the Bristol Night Race. This year we held our second tour and hosted seven of the top site location consultant firms and four members of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD). We also received participation and much appreciated financial support from our electric utility partners TVA, AEP, and NETVRIDA.
Among the highlights of the event were a presentation at Eastman Chemical's world headquarters, an existing industry panel at the Kingsport Higher Education Center followed by a tour of the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM), a higher education panel hosted by Tri-Cities Regional Airport and a tour of the Aerospace Park (along with photo ops at many of the NASCAR team planes), a visit to Robertson's Mellow Moon East Tennessee Distillery, and , of course, VIP treatment at Bristol Motor Speedway. I cannot adequately express my gratitude to the host venues, our tremendous speakers and guides, our highly dedicated and supportive elected leaders, and of course, our community partners at the City of Bristol, the City of Kingsport, and Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES). Mostly, though, I want to thank the best economic development staff with whom I have ever worked, the NETWORKS team of Brian Ritz, Dana Glenn, and the man who heads up this initiative, Michael Parker.
"You've got to be careful if you don't know where you're going because you might not get there"
Of course the Red Carpet Tour and other ventures with TEP all go toward our overall branding goal of establishing ourselves as Where Tennessee Begin Its Business Day. We continue to work with TEP and participate in inbound and outbound events. We have also finalized our plans as a major sponsor (along with Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville) at next winter's Site Selection Guild annual conference in Nashville. Only TNECD, TVA, and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce (the host of the event) are at a higher level. This type of marketing activity is necessary if we are to be considered major economic development players among site selection consultants and our regional and state partners.
We also continue to raise our profile through our partnership with the Tri-Cities Regional Airport and its Aerospace Park. I will be joining Mark Canty of the airport at the NBAA annual conference next month. A special aeronautics edition of Expansion Solutions magazine will be distributed at that conference. In it will be an ad that was a joint venture with us and Aerospace Park. We haven't seen the article yet, of course, but we are hopeful to be a major part of that issue's editorial content as well. We've also recently used a NETWORKS consultant contact to set up meetings with leadership of specific companies that the airport believes are in or soon will be in expansion mode, based on its research. We are involving Richard Blevins, who oversees Northeast State Community College's Aviation Initiative, and he has proven already to be an incredible differentiating advantage for our team and our region.
And, of course, our lighted sign aimed at business travelers has been installed at the Tri-Cities Airport, strategically positioned right beside Eastman's sign and above directional signage to baggage claims and restrooms (the two most important pieces of information to me when I land anywhere).
These activities and strategies are all part of strategic plan, which was recently updated and approved by our Board of Directors. As the saying goes: plan your work and work your plan... wait a minute, Yogi didn't say that, so on we go...
"It was impossible to have a conversation; everybody was talking too much"
One thing I continue to observe at our Board of Directors meetings and in conversations in general is that our communications and direction grows stronger and stronger. It's a fantastic feeling to work among leadership that respects each other's views, ideas, and goals. And we always seem to land on solutions that work best for the county and region as a whole.
Earlier this year, we entered into a marketing agreement with the Hawkins County Industrial Board and the Phipps Bend Industrial Park, which took a great deal of open debating and consideration of many issues that are involved in such a meaningful change. At the end of it all, we came out a stronger organization (I know I came out a stronger economic development executive) and we are already seeing this partnership pay dividends in terms of more project leads and inquiries and a higher profile on the economic development stage. We've also dealt with some negotiation issues with various prospects, long-time asset planning, our marketing message, and how to best set our goals and measure our results. As we address these issues, we become better and better at understanding everyone's concerns - common and unique - and let our differences empower rather than weaken us.
"A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore"
We continue to be good stewards of the tax payers' money. NETWORKS and the City of Bristol recently made the decision to share costs to complete the infrastructure in Partnership Park II, a truly necessary step, especially considering that this park is one of or Select Tennessee certified sites. That work is almost complete. In order to make the park more marketable by improving its "curb appeal," the Jacobs Creek Job Corps is finishing up its site improvement work on one tract and will soon be relocating to begin similar work further into the park.
We have also decided that a "virtual" or "dynamic" building program is a smarter route to take than spending a great deal of money on constructing a speculative building at this time. And finally, we are working with city officials at securing a grant to extend the road infrastructure in the park. (Hopefully, we'll have much more to report on that effort by the time the next newsletter rolls around.)
"The future ain't what it used to be"
In August, several members of the Work Ready Community Initiative's working committee attended training in Atlanta. Team members who participate included Tanya Foreman of Eastman, Carolyn Ferrell of Robinette, Kathy Pierce of the Workforce Investment Board, Mary Beth Oxendine Woodby of Northeast State Community, and Jeff McCord of Northeast State who serves as the initiative's chairman.
The committee continues to work towards becoming a Certified Work Ready Community, which, as McCord explains, "is kind of like a site certification for your workforce." While this program is still developing, a site location consultant panel at a recent Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC) meeting attended by NETWORKS agreed that eventually, communities with the certification and high company participation and high test results among job seekers will have a decided advantage in the recruitment process. The overarching benefit of the program, however, is a service to existing industries to make their hiring process more expedient and efficient.
"It ain't over until it's over"
Economic development is an on-going, long-term process. It's something you're never "done with," like law enforcement and education. Our work is constant, and not just in the branding and recruitment efforts. Our existing industry program - FIRST - is also a constant, with initiatives large and small; one significant service, a wages and benefits survey is in the latter stages of its initial run. Another such service, working with Mark Canty in promoting Foreign Trade Zone 204 and our US Customs Port, has also been a focal point in recent months and we hope to have some exciting news on that subject soon. And updating our website, social media, and other marketing and on-line presence is an on-going project by its very nature.
All of this work requires a great deal of commitment and dogged determination and the rest of the NETWORKS staff and I cannot adequately express our appreciation to our Board Members, community partners, and other stakeholders and supporters for their integral contributions to our mission. We try to approach our jobs with the same passion and work ethic as Yogi played throughout his Hall of Fame career in which he played in an amazing 14 World Series, on the winning end of 10 of them. It's not likely anyone in baseball or economic development will ever repeat that kind of success, but then again, it ain't over until it's over and in our profession, it's never over.
Upcoming Meetings
Full Board

November 11, 2015

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

Northeast State Community College
Library - Room L106

Would Like to Congratulate the Following People on Their Recent Accomplishments:

Tom Anderson  
Director of Economic Development
(City of Bristol, TN)
Tom Anderson was recently named as Bristol, Tennessee's Director of Economic Development. He replaced Shari Brown who stepped down after eight years on the job. Anderson previously served as a Business Specialist with the City.

Richard Blevins
Director - Aviation Maintenance Technical Certificate Program
(Northeast State)

Northeast State Community College President Janice Gilliam recently announced that Richard Blevins would serve as the new department head and director of the school's new Aviation Maintenance Technical Certificate Program. The 29-credit-hour program will offer classes starting in fall of 2015 and eventually will be based in the new Emerging Technologies building at Northeast State Community College's Blountville Campus. 


Click Here For Story

Bill Forrester
Director - Industrial Programs & Housing Programs
(First TN Dev. District)
Bill was among the most recent group of economic developers to complete the Tennessee Certified Economic Developer Program administered by the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services. This designation indicates that one has developed core competency in the principles and practices of economic development in Tennessee. 

NETWORKS Upgrades Infrastructure in Partnership Park II
The infrastructure update in Partnership Park II , a certified site under the Select Tennessee certification program, is nearing completion.  The NETWORKS Executive Board voted to share the costs for new infrastructure at this site, with NETWORKS covering the cost of materials and The City of Bristol providing the in-house personnel necessary for the installation services.  NETWORKS estimated total cost is $558,000, with $170,000  allocated to the water distribution system, $252,000 allocated to the sanitary sewer collection system, and $136,000 allocated to the electric and fiber distribution system.  Jacobs Creek Job Corps has been assisting with improvements to the site, as well.  When improvements are completed on the current tract of land, the job corps will continue improvements in different areas of the park. 

Rather than construct a spec building in Partnership Park II, NETWORKS plans to take a more cost effective route, utilizing a virtual building program.  NETWORKS is also working closely with officials from the City of Bristol to secure a grant to extend the road infrastructure of the site.

ACT Work Ready Communities Initiative
Sullivan County Strives to be a Work Ready Community 

A qualified workforce is a necessity when it comes to economic development and recruitment.  With ACT's Work Ready Community Initiative, communities can prove that they have the qualified workforce necessary for new and expanding employers. This initiative was begun late last year by the Kingsport United Way and has since spun off into its own organization, chaired by Jeff McCord of Northeast State Community College.
Work Ready Community Certification is directly related to the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC).  The NCRC is a portable, industry-recognized credential that clearly identifies an individual's WorkKeys┬« skills in reading for information, applied math, and locating information - skills required for 77% of jobs based on the ACT JobPro database.  Benchmarks for each community are set regarding the NCRC, with factors including not only test scores, but also on the number of employers using the scores for hiring purposes and the number of individuals taking the certification test.  The certification test is already administered in Northeast State Community College's Career Center, and scores are utilized by Eastman and Domtar, with many other companies in Sullivan County following suit.  This certification is beneficial because it links workforce development to education, aligns with the economic development needs of communities, regions and states, and matches individuals to jobs based on skill levels.
Participation in ACT's Work Ready Community initiative touches an entire community - businesses and existing industry, individuals seeking employment, policy makers, educators, and economic developers.  We appreciate the hard work of the Work Ready Community Initiative's working committee, including McCord (Northeast State), Carolyn Ferrell (Robinette), Kathy Pierce (Alliance for Business and Technology/Workforce Investment Board), Mary Beth Oxedine Woodby (Northeast State), and Tanya Foreman (Eastman) , all of whom recently attended training in Atlanta , and Richard Venable (Sullivan County Mayor), April Eads (BTES), Dory Creech (Kingsport City Schools), and Clay Walker (NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership).

Northeast TN Red Carpet Tour 
Top Site Location Consultants Visit Region and Learn Why Sullivan County is "Where Tennessee Begins Its Business Day"

Yep, it is race time in Northeast TN again. NETWORKS, along with its partners, just wrapped up the 2nd annual Northeast TN Red Carpet Tour (August 20 - 23, 2015). The Northeast TN Red Carpet Tour is our annual in-bound marketing event that culminates with suite-tickets and VIP access to the IRWIN Tools Night Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Each year, we invite 8-12 site location consultants, from

 some of the top firms in the nation, to visit our community for two and a half days of learning and fun. 


During their time in Northeast Tennessee, consultants hear from existing industry leaders regarding the benefits of doing business in Northeast, TN, learn about our many competitive advantages, and experience our unrivaled quality of life that culminates

 with suite tickets and VIP access to the IRWIN Tools Night Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway. 


This year, we had 8 consultants, all from highly respectable site location firms, attend the Red Carpet Tour as well as several representatives from our partner agencies that included: TVA Economic Development (TVAED), Tennessee Economic Partnership (TEP), Appalachian Electric Power (AEP), and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD). 


Consulting Firms:

  1. CRESA (Dallas, TX)
  2. Ryan Company (Tampa, FL)
  3. CBRE Group (Dallas, TX)
  4. The Next Move Group (New Orleans, LA)
  5. Lones Lang LaSalle (Nashville, TN)
  6. Hamilton Consulting Group (Cincinnati, OH)
  7. Newmark Grubb Knight Frank (Atlanta, GA)
  8. Global Location Strategies (Greenville, SC)

Downloads / Links:

The Right First Impression
If you've visited the Tri-Cities Regional Airport lately, you may have noticed NETWORKS's new banner.  The backlit banner reads "If you enjoy your visits here, perhaps it's time to consider letting Northeast Tennessee work for you.  Please contact us to learn the advantages of growing your business Where Tennessee Begins Its Business Day!"  It is located directly beside Eastman's ad and right before travelers reach baggage claim and the restrooms.