Community Stakeholders Report 
4th Quarter - 2016

From the Desk of the CEO...

In Like a Lion,
          Out Like a... Well, Still a Lion

As I pen the last NETWORKS Newsletter CEO Report of 2016, I can't keep my thoughts from drifting beyond the year's final quarter to reflect on the past 12 months in their entirety, both from a professional and a very personal place. And while I was under the weather during a very busy beginning of the year, we never lifted our foot off of the accelerator and were able to close the year as strongly as we began it.
This time last year, I was suffering from a respiratory illness that would soon have me briefly hospitalized. Through incredibly talented medical professionals, the support of family and friends (many of whom are also colleagues), and numerous prayers that were offered from across our country, I was back to my old self in no time. Among the things that the illness taught me was exactly how incredible the NETWORKS family is, particularly our staff as they stepped in and kept so many projects and initiatives moving forward. This diligent work in the face of uncertainty led to our having arguably the most significant year since NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership was formed more than a decade ago, a year that included a community video that took on unexpected popularity and the announcement of more than 1,500 new jobs.
But it was this past three months that many of the more time consuming projects came to fruition, including the two announcements in December of Leclerc Foods and KPS Global. These announcements, which combined represent nearly 200 jobs, capped a year of great activity and wins and kept our momentum alive and well as we head into 2017.
We also had a great FIRST (our existing industry program) meeting at Bristol Motor Speedway that included a presentation from Regional Engine-MFG, a regional manufacturing organization based in Knoxville. Among its early members are NETWORKS and our own Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM) and Bell Helicopter. Expect to hear more from this group and our partnership in the upcoming year.
Speaking of the RCAM and Bell, these two made some recent headlines, with the RCAM breaking ground on its expansion on a very chilly, blustery day earlier this month and Bell moving into its new customization building.
NETWORKS joined the RCAM, Eastman, and many of our partners in celebrating Manufacturing Week in October. Eastman and the RCAM hosted Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd for Manufacturing Day activities. Earlier in the week, NETWORKS hosted several members of the TNECD team for tours of the RCAM and Bell as well as a presentation of our organization and communities.
We once again hosted TNECD staff and other economic development partners for an appreciation event in Nashville the evening prior to the start of the Governor's Conference on Economic Development. This year, we held the event jointly with the Greene County Partnership and Morristown (Hamblen County) Area Chamber of Commerce. This represented just one of the many vehicles we found to partner with other EDOs and cement our reputation as a stalwart regional-thinking member of Team Tennessee, a notion that was submitted as I was honored to be invited to participate on a panel to discuss regionalism at the conference.
Our signature inbound marketing event, the Northeast Tennessee Red Carpet Tour kept in line with the Team Tennessee theme as Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce joined the Tennessee Economic Partnership (TEP), TNECD, TVA, AEP, and NETVRIDA as partners for the event. This year's event brought in our most impressive roster of site location consultants to date with representatives from CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, Global Location Strategies, Jones Lang LaSalle, KPMG, MCS Strategies, and Next Move Group. And in February, we represented the Northeastern region of our state, joining the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, Clarksville-Montgomery County Economic Development Council, Knoxville Chamber, City of Nashville, and Williamson, Inc., as "acoustic" level sponsors at the 2016 Site Selection Guild Annual Meeting, with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, TNECD, TEP, and TVA sponsoring at the "electric" level.
We carried the Tennessee banner with us to the ECONOMIX conference in Atlanta, a site location consortium sponsored by ConsultantConnect. We joined ED professionals from Nashville, Knoxville, and Clarksville as a sort of tag team to tell the Tennessee story (emphasizing our respective communities, of course).
The work of Tri-Cities Airport, Northeast State Community College, and NETWORKS, coupled with the continued success and visibility of companies such as Bell Helicopter, Wysong Helicopter, and Eastman brought a welcome recognition in the aerospace sector when NETWORKS was listed as Top 5 Award of Excellence winner by Expansion Solutions magazine. (By the way, congratulations to Tri-Cities Airport for its partnership with TVA and BTES to upgrade its equipment to produce fewer emissions, as well as the launch of its new website.)
When you look at our year, from start to the flurry of the last couple of months, it has certainly been an exciting time to be part of this region and this organization. We started strong and we finished strong. We came into 2016 like a lion, but we were anything but a lamb in how we closed it.

Upcoming Meetings
Annual Meeting

January 18, 2017

8:00 AM

Northeast State Community College
Library - Room L106

In This Issue
Sullivan County Celebrates Manufacturing Week

Kingsport Wins Second Leclerc Foods Facility, US HQ

Leclerc Foods is investing about $49 million with the purchase of the former C&F facility where it will establish its second Kingsport plant and US headquarters, the company announced in December. The new facility, which the company hopes to have operational by mid-2107, will employ 105 people.
"We have chosen to operate a second plant in Kingsport because this acquisition fits our business vision and corporate development strategy," said Jean-Sebastien Leclerc, vice president of co-manufacturing infrastructure. "This plant will manufacture certified gluten-free products exclusively. It will allow us to position ourselves near our US clients and meet their specific needs."
Founded in 1905, Leclerc Foods is a leader in the cookie, snack bar, and cracker industry. The Canadian-based company employs more than 650 people in six facilities and distributes to about 20 different countries.
"Leclerc Foods' decision to bring its US headquarters to Kingsport is a prime example of our economic development efforts hitting on all cylinders," Tennessee Govern Bill Haslam said. "Since its first establishing a new manufacturing plant in Kingsport eight years ago, Leclerc Foods has expanded considerably. Now, Leclerc Foods is doubling its Kingsport workforce and adding quality office jobs that will have an even bigger impact on Sullivan County."
KPS Global Expands Piney Flats Facility

photo courtesy of TNECD

KPS Global, which has been located in Sullivan County since 1996, announced it will add 37,000 square feet to its Piney Flats facility and lease another building for warehousing. The expansion will create 64 new jobs.
"This is a huge vote of confidence in the Piney Flats team and Tri-Cities communities," Plant Manager Rick Newberry said.
KPS Global is a leading manufacturer and installer of walk-in cooler products and environmental chambers. The company serves the supermarket, convenience store, scientific, and industrial markets.
"Over 344,000 Tennesseans work in manufacturing and that number will continue to rise exponentially with the help of companies like KPS Global in Sullivan County," Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd said. "I want to thank KPS Global for expanding in Sullivan County and for creating more than 60 new jobs for our Team Tennessee workforce."
Construction on the building has already begun. The company hopes to have the expansion complete in early 2017.
Work Ready Community Effort Takes on Regional Flavor
Mayors from the Northeast Tennessee counties joined together in October to announce that the entire region was taking the lead from Sullivan County and working toward attaining ACT Work Ready Community certification. Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge and Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable were the spokesmen for the effort at a press conference held outside of the First Tennessee Development District offices, the organization charged with leading the effort.
"Site Selector magazine, a highly influential industry journal, now uses the NCRC (National Career Readiness Certificate) completions in their community assessments as they rank areas to recommend as the best place to do business and where businesses should consider locating," Eldridge said. "If a prospect isn't confident that we have a qualified workforce and a development pipeline to provide employees in the future, they won't choose Northeast Tennessee to invest their capital, create jobs, and do business."
The Work Ready Community designation is obtained on a county basis, earned by a predetermined number of people from within the workforce earning the NCRC designation and number of employers supporting the process. Sullivan County began the certification process more than a year and a half ago.
"Each and every county in Northeast Tennessee will benefit from their participation in this program," Venable said. "Citizens here commute between counties every day as a normal part of business. Having all of our citizens have the opportunity to attain NCRC certification elevates the entire region."
Bristol Holds Second Successful Hiring Expo
The City of Bristol and the Bristol Industrial Development Board held its second Hiring Expo of the year in October. As was the case at the inaugural event in May, a steady crowd of people seeking new employment opportunities filled the South Building at the Bristol Motor Speedway to connect with dozens of companies in the need of more than 1,000 employees collectively.
"To be able to bring such a large cross section of Bristol's job market together under the same roof, with members of our region's available workforce is a tremendous opportunity," said Bristol Mayor Chad Keen.
RCAM Breaks Ground on Expansion
Officials from Eastman, Domtar, the City of Kingsport, and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development joined Northeast State Community College to break ground on a 15,000-square-foot, $2.6 million expansion of the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM) in December. The addition will be a two-story building with the ground floor housing more labs and tool storage with the second floor offering classrooms and staff offices.
The RCAM is Northeast State's primary off-campus facility for a training a qualified workforce for the region's manufacturing sector, offering degrees and certificates in chemical process operations, electromechanical technology, electrical technology, and welding/metal fabrication. Some 500 students are enrolled at the RCAM.
Domtar donated some of the land needed for the expansion.
Bristol Motor Speedway Enjoys Biggest Year Yet

Bristol Motor Speedway has long been a significant economic engine for Northeast Tennessee. BMS took that impact to new heights in 2016.
In addition to its usual slate of activities that bring hundreds of thousands of people to the area - two NASCAR weekends, an NHRA weekend, the Pinnacle Speedway in Lights Powered by TVA - the World's Last Great Coliseum hosted the World's Biggest College Football Game Ever, setting an attendance record of 156,990 as the University of Tennessee downed Virginia Tech in the Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol. The night prior to the game, the track hosted a Kenny Chesney concert with opening acts Old Dominion and The Band Perry as part of the Honda Ridgeline Presents Bristol's Tailgate Party. The next week, the largest crowd ever to watch an East Tennessee State University football game saw the Bucs defeat Western Carolina.
As part of the venue's retrofit to host football games and concerts, the track unveiled Colossus, the world's largest outdoor, center-hung, four-sided video display.
The Bristol branch of Speedway Charities also played a major role in the year's success, raising a record-breaking $1,002,380.
In December, the track was rewarded by winning Speedway Motorsports Inc.'s Track of the Year. Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Caldwell was named Promoter of the Year by SMI, the first time the award was won by the same individual in consecutive years.
Magazine Names NETWORKS Top 5 for Aerospace

NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership was recognized by Expansion Solutions magazine as Top Five Award of Excellence winner in aviation/aerospace. The awards program recognizes economic development organizations that have shown exceptional progress in development, according to a press release from the magazine. Five winners were chosen in each of seven categories because of the support system offered to businesses, as well as recent activity and investment made in improving infrastructure and the availability of buildings and sites.
"It's kind of an obvious thing that Aerospace Park at Tri-Cities Airport is our crown jewel differentiating advantage that we use in marketing to aerospace companies," NETWORKS CEO Clay Walker said. "But our business case for this sector goes well beyond just an incredible site. The aviation program at Northeast State Community College, the recent growth at companies such as Bell Helicopter, Wysong Helicopter, DEC Technologies, and Aviation Accessories, plus Eastman's aviation division, all help to generate interest from similar companies."
Eastman Tops Inaugural 'JUST 100' List
Kingsport-based Eastman was named America's Most JUST Company in the chemical industry by JUST Capital and Forbes magazine. The JUST 100 List ranks publicly traded companies in the United States that perform the best on the things Americans care the most about. The rankings are based on one of the largest surveys ever conducted on attitudes towards corporate behavior, involving 50,000 Americans over the past 18 months. The list ranks industries against their peers in 32 major industry sectors.
"Eastman believes an inclusive, global culture where everyone can do their best work makes our company and communities stronger. That's why we invest the time and resources to develop a long-term strategy and support initiatives across the company that underscore our commitment to our values - safety and wellness, sustainability, innovation, diversity and inclusion, high ethics and integrity," Chairman and CEO Mark Costa said. "Living by these principles enables us to consistently deliver value to our stakeholders while also ensuring a positive future for the company."