Community Stakeholders Report 
Quarter Three - 2018
From the Desk of the CEO

Lessons Learned
Respectful tone of gubernatorial campaign serves as reminder of the proper way to move forward

When I arrived in Tennessee in the summer of 2004, Phil Bredesen was still in his first term as our governor. Earlier this week, watching the gubernatorial debate at Eastman's Toy F. Reid Employment Center, I couldn't help but think of how fortunate we have been historically to have such a history of strong governors, both of the "R" and the "D" variety. Especially when it comes to economic development.
The NETWORKS staff and our extended team have registered to attend the Governor's Conference on Economic Development later this month. This will be the last such conference for Governor Bill Haslam, whom I consider to be the most effective economic development governor under whom I have worked. Supported by a pro-business legislature, he passed revolutionary programs, not the least of which is the Tennessee Promise, which mirrors the Educate and Grow program we had enjoyed for nearly a decade in Sullivan County. And Tennessee's economic health has prospered. While Governor Haslam and both candidates from whom we will choose in less than a month have acknowledged a great disparity of economic growth between our urban and rural regions, our state's forward thinking on education and workforce training stands to be the great equalizer on which those of us in Tennessee's less populated areas will depend.
Education is not a silver bullet and there are no quick fixes. As a colleague of mine in one of the state's most prosperous counties likes to say, "Economies do not turn on a dime like a race car; it is more like a large ship. It takes time." As frustrating as that can be, it is impossible to argue. While economic developers know, understand, and begrudgingly accept this, no group of people lament this truism more. Two reasons stand out for our frustration: people who need jobs (or better jobs) now, not just over the long haul, and it's easy for leadership, citizens, and stakeholders at every level to lose faith - and sometimes interest - in the mission without seeing and celebrating some really good news from time to time.
Several years ago, while working for a regional EDO in another state, I coined the phrase that economic development is a long-term commitment fueled by quick-term wins. We have enjoyed many of those over the past few months and even years. Just this quarter, we celebrated Anita's Snack Foods opening its facility in Gateway Commerce Park in Kingsport, Miyake's new plant in Phipps Bend Industrial Park in Hawkins County, and groundbreakings for major site development projects at Aerospace Park and BTES's Bristol Business Park. We also held our fifth annual Northeast Tennessee Red Carpet Tour, bringing in nine of the country's top site location consultants and TNECD and regional economic development partners for what has become known as one of the top familiarization tours anywhere. All in all, a pretty busy quarter.
We also began the work as set forth in our Board of Directors Strategic Planning Retreat in June. The three commitments we made are:
  • Buy and develop more inventory (buildings and land)
  • Be the regional marketing vehicle for economic development
  • Expand the availability of a well-trained workforce
Expect to see much more on these initiatives in the upcoming months.
In between all of these things, we visited consultants in some of our key markets with trips to Greenville, SC, and Dallas. We also participated in the Education 2 Employment Summit, led by the First Tennessee Development District's Lottie Ryans. It was a great way to connect educators, business, and economic developers. I was proud to be a part of it - being on a panel with colleagues Mitch Miller of NeTREP, Matt Garland of the Greene County Partnership, and Marshall Ramsey of Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce, moderated by the Kingsport Chamber's Miles Burdine - and I hope this becomes an annual event.
When I look back on the past three months, I go back to the governor's race and our state's history of great leadership, particularly in our highest elected office. We have had governors from both parties demonstrate that being a steady, fiscally responsible, cerebral decision maker and an innovative, creative problem solver do not have to be in conflict or even mutually exclusive. And we can certainly move our state, region, or our own respective organizations forward at a greater clip when we maintain civility, respect, and open communications. I think these truths are more than just a preferable way of tackling the challenges of economic development; I think of them as necessary.
Upcoming Meetings
Executive Committee Meeting

 November 14, 2018
8:00 AM

Northeast State Community College
Library - Room L106

Northeast Tennessee Red Carpet Tour
For the fifth year in a row, the Northeast Tennessee Red Carpet Tour hosted some of the biggest names in site selection.  We celebrated year five with the addition of a songwriters reception, featuring Grammy Award-winning songwriter Tim Nichols. 

Here are some of the highlights:

Staff Promotions
Dana Glenn, Michael Parker Rewarded for Outstanding Performance


NETWORKS announced in September that Dana Glenn would be promoted from Administrative and Marketing Coordinator into a newly created position of Director of Marketing and Business Development. Coinciding with that change, Executive Project Manager Michael Parker was promoted to Director of Economic Development. This structure shift was made in the wake of the departure of Project Manager Brian Ritz, who resigned in August to pursue an opportunity in the private sector.
"We hated to see Brian go, but this move presented an opportunity for him and his family that he really couldn't pass up," CEO Clay Walker said. "Brian did just an outstanding job for us and he will always be part of the NETWORKS family.
"That being said, with his departure we had an opportunity to line some titles, responsibilities, and the shifting dynamics of our office into some more appropriate titles and make a statement to these two valued members of our team who have performed at an outstanding level."

Bristol Hiring Expo

The City of Bristol will hold a hiring expo at the Bristol Motor Speedway on October 18. More than 40 companies, each with positions to be filled, have registered to participate. NETWORKS is proud to be a co-sponsor of this event.

Anita's Snack Foods
Family-owned Company Represents 101 New Jobs

Anita's Snack Foods announced that it had moved into the former Pure Foods facility in Gateway Commerce Park in July, where they will produce tortilla and corn chips. State and local officials celebrated the company's news with a ribbon cutting, courtesy of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce.  The California-based company is investing nearly $4 million and will employ 101 people.
Miyake Cuts Ribbon in Phipps Bend
Forging Company Will Employ 60 in New Facility

Miyake Forging North America held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its new 48,000 square foot facility in Hawkins County's Phipps Bend Industrial Park in September. Several citizens and state and local officials attended the open house. The recently-opened plant employs 14 people currently, but company officials said that number will grow to 60 in the upcoming months.

Industrial Product Development Celebration
Bristol Business Park, Aerospace Park Host Groundbreakings

BTES, owner of Bristol Business Park, was joined by economic development and elected officials from across the region for a groundbreaking at Bristol Business Park in August. A $500,000 TNECD Rural Development Grant and a TVA InvestPrep Grant supported the project, excavating 36 acres on a 50-acre site, designed for the construction of a 420,000 square foot building. Bristol Business Park is one of four Select Tennessee Certified Sites in the NETWORKS service area.

State, regional, and local officials gathered in October for an event to celebrate the remarkable funding efforts at Aerospace Park. The largest investment, $8.5 million, is being covered by Sullivan and Washington counties and the cities of Bristol, Johnson City, and Kingsport. TNECD also contributed a $500,000 Rural Development Grant and TVA awarded Tri-Cities Airport (TRI) an InvestPrep Grant. When complete with the funded phase of the site, the already prepared and Select Tennessee Certified Site of 32 acres will increase to 105 acres, nearly completing the entire park. Aerospace Park has direct runway access and partners with NETWORKS to market to site to fixed wing projects, with an emphasis on MRO operations.
Wilson Leaving Tri-Cities Airport for Knoxville
NETWORKS Wishes the Best to Valued Partner and Friend

Tri-Cities Airport Executive Director Patrick Wilson is returning to his hometown of Knoxville to Tyson McGee Airport, where he began his career as the operations manager. Wilson has been in his current role at TRI for 13 years, having worked eight years as Deputy Executive Director.
"Patrick has served us extremely well and I wish him all the best in his new endeavor," said Airport Commission Chairman Jon Smith. "We are fortunate our airport's staff and management team are truly exceptional and they will ensure the airport will continue to operate at the high standards to which our traveling public have become accustomed as we go through this change in leadership. While I regret the fact that Patrick will no longer be leading the team at the Tri-Cities Airport Authority, I know this represents a well-deserved opportunity."
NETWORKS CEO Clay Walker, who works closely with Wilson and the TRI staff in business recruitment for Aerospace Park and serving on the airport's marketing committee, said that Wilson's impact on the community cannot be overstated.
"So many people have worked on developing Aerospace Park as well as growing the airport during a period where many airports of our size have not done so well, but Patrick has provided such steady and strong leadership, without which we would not be in this enviable position," Walker said. "So, I know this opening will draw some great candidates and the airport's leadership will find a more than capable director. Still, I will miss my day-to-day interaction with Patrick. He's become a great friend and he really represents the very best we have to offer in our region. I'm thankful he's just going up the road and will continue to be a part of Team Tennessee as we work a great deal with the Knoxville on collaborative marketing and recruitment efforts."
Change in Newsletter Publication Times
You might have noticed that this quarter's Newsletter arrived a little later than usual. Normally the Newsletter is published around the 1st of the first month of each quarter. However, due to our Board of Directors Meetings being on the second Wednesday of each month, most of the material reported to the Board and media has already been covered and considered old news. Therefore, we have changed the publication date of our Newsletter to the day of or following our quarterly Board Meetings.