Community Stakeholders Report 
 4th Quarter - 2015

From the Desk of the CEO...

Change is Challenging

One need not have been a parent for a very long time to learn that although it is our job to teach our children, they provide us with more lessons than we do them. Besides humility and humor - prerequisites for parental survival - children's tutorials often provide bits of wisdom we can apply in daily life. And sometimes, maybe most times, those lessons are unintended.
 
When my son was about four years old, he was playing with one of those toys that transforms from one thing to another, I think from a car to a robot, while we were having lunch. He was explaining to me why the toy was so cool. "It challenges from a car to a robot," he said.
 
"You mean it 'changes' from a car to a robot," I corrected him.
 
"No Dad, change is challenging," he retorted. Yes, it is, son. Yes, it is.
 
This year has seen a great deal of change at NETWORKS. Jack Lawson, a veteran of economic development of more than 30 years, retired last spring. And long-time administrative assistant Marsha Fandl moved on as well.
 
We were fortunate to bring Brian Ritz over from Bristol Virginia Utilities (BVU) where he was Key Accounts Manager to fill Jack's spot as Project Manager on our team. We lured Dana Glenn away from KOSBE at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce to fill the new position of Administrative and Marketing Coordinator. And we even reassigned some duties and promoted Michael Parker to Executive Project Manager.
 
These professionals' abilities and attitudes have helped eliminate the challenge such changes can create. They are working together and, as a team, give us a decided advantage. I could not be prouder to be associated with these folks.
 
We also saw changes within our community partners. Tom Anderson replaced Shari Brown as Director of Economic Development for the City of Bristol and Corey Shepherd was promoted to Business Development Specialist at the City of Kingsport.
 
With these great professionals in place and working with other community, regional, and state partners, most notably Iliff McMahan and Matt Garland of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD), our county saw another great year in primary job sector growth and investment. About 600 primary jobs (not counting retail and service industry sectors) and more than $50 million in new investment came into Sullivan and Hawkins counties in 2015, a good year by any standard.
 
We also adjusted our scope of work somewhat by entering into a marketing agreement with the Hawkins County Industrial Development Board, which added the Phipps Bend Industrial Park to our inventory of industrial sites. This partnership has brought all of our sites and our organization into more projects and raised our profile across the economic development landscape. It has also given us an opportunity to work with some great people in Hawkins County, most notably the HCIDB's lone staff member, Rebecca Baker. (Talk to her about change being a challenge after having to get used to us!)
 
As we close this chapter - our year of change - I cannot help but be grateful beyond words to be working with leadership that not only accepts, but embraces change. Our Board of Directors has been challenged over the past two years to select a new CEO after my predecessor, Richard Venable retired to successfully reclaim his county mayor position, oversee said CEO's restructuring of the staff, and joined him in revisiting and rewriting our strategic plan. They enthusiastically championed our new branding campaign of "Where Tennessee Begins Its Business Day," participated in our Red Carpet Tours, and had the vision to realize the advantages and synergies of partnering with Hawkins County.
 
It's a lot for a volunteer board to take on. It is worth a lot to me and the rest of the NETWORKS staff and community professionals to know that no matter what changes await, our leadership is up for the challenge.
Upcoming Meetings
Full Board

January 13, 2015

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

Northeast State Community College
Library - Room L106

2015 by the Numbers

Capital Investment
$50,000,000

Jobs
600

Projects Worked
45

Consultant Visits
20
2015
Through Our Eyes
Industrial Park Development
Partnership Park II Positioned for Success

The City of Bristol and Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES) recently completed infrastructure into Partnership Park II in Bristol. The park also received great news from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) recently, when it was awarded a grant for a new road that will provide access to most of the park, including the most suitable potential rail-served tract.
 
Meanwhile, NETWORKS unveiled at its November Board of Directors Meeting, details about a Virtual Building Program. This program will site and design an industrial building, which will eliminate about 90 days from the planning/design/construction process in addition to saving a client a great deal of up-front costs. Once complete, the program will offer a building permit to qualified companies and changes to the original plan can be approved through the City's planning department during construction.
 
"With the infrastructure in place, better accessibility with the new road, and a progressive marketing tool such as the virtual building, I believe we have a park that is well positioned to lure investment and jobs," said NETWORKS CEO Clay Walker. "More than a year ago, we contracted with the Jacobs Creek Job Corps to level off some of the property at the front of the park to improve its curb appeal, and that project is nearly complete. I think once the new road is done and our Virtual Building Program is in place, we will see a great deal more activity in PPII which will ultimately lead to some announcements of new industry."
 
Walker said that NETWORKS and City of Bristol have discussed other infrastructure improvement projects and potential grants to fund them with representatives of TVA and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD).
Showcasing the Volunteer State
NETWORKS to Play Major Role in Site Selectors Guild Conference

In December, the Site Selectors Guild, an organization comprised of the nation's leading site location consulting firms, whose combined membership manage projects valued at more than $30 billion in capital expenditures and thousands of new jobs each year, announced that Nashville would be the host city for its 2016 Annual Conference, February 24-26.

"This year, we are excited that corporate representatives from IAMC (Industrial Asset Management Council) will lead a panel discussion on site selection drivers and industry trends, and also be able to available to interact informally with conference attendees," said SSG President Phil Schneider.

NETWORKS will join community and regional economic development organizations from Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga as "Acoustic Guitar Level" sponsors, second only to the "Electric Guitar Level" sponsors of larger organizations such as the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, TVA, and TNECD.

"It is imperative for us to have regional representation at the same high-profile level of our state's leaders in economic development," said Clay Walker, NETWORKS CEO. "If we want to be seen as players at that level, we must perform as players at that level. Our product development is certainly at a high-water mark, our marketing message of Where Tennessee Begins Its Business Day is meaningful and effective, and the level of proven leadership needed to prosper is in place; none of these things will be optimized, however, if we are not telling our story to the right audience."

The Site Selectors Guild is the only association of the world's foremost professional site selector consultants. Its annual conference, which once again, is sold out, offers a unique opportunity for economic developers to host this prestigious event.

"NETWORKS is a key partner of the 2016 Site Selectors Guild Annual Conference," said Courtney Ross, Chief Economic Development Officer for the Nashville Chamber. "Their sponsorship further demonstrates their aggressive marketing strategy for Northeast Tennessee and we look forward to a successful conference in February showcasing Tennessee as an ideal business location."
Strengthening Partnerships
Walker Elected Secretary-Treasurer, Chair-Elect of TEP

NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership CEO Clay Walker was among the economic development professionals elected to office of the Tennessee Economic Partnership (TEP) Board of Directors in November. Walker was elected as 2016 Secretary-Treasurer and Chairman-Elect. Mark Herbison, Senior Vice President of Economic Development for the Greater Memphis Chamber, will serve as Chairman.

TEP is a public-private partnership that markets the state of Tennessee as a premiere place for business. NETWORKS has partnered with TEP the past two years for its signature in-bound marketing event, the Red Carpet Tour, that brings site location consultants into the region for three days to learn of the area's business attributes; the event culminates with the Bristol Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

"This is the marketing arm for the state, and I am humbled that my peers have seen fit to ask me to increase my role in the organization," Walker said. "The past leadership of this partnership has been outstanding and I look forward to working with Mark under his chairmanship. Matt Largen (of Williamson County, 2015 Chairman) did an outstanding job through a great deal of change within the organization. I've known Mark for a long time and have always had the utmost respect for his vision and creativity; I will have big shoes to fill in 2017 to be sure."

Other officers for 2016 include: Brian Hercules, Vice President of Economic Development for the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce; Charley Lyons, Executive Director of the Tennessee Central Economic Alliance; Allen Neel, President & CEO of the East Tennessee Economic Development Agency; Mike Philpot, Executive Director of the West Tennessee Industrial Association; and Mandy White, President of the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce and Tennessee Economic Development Council (TEDC) president.