Another year is in the books and for the next two months, most of us will be busy awkwardly altering that 7 into an 8 - as in 2018 - as we date our checks. I once believed that we had trouble adjusting to the new year because it had become such a habit over 12 months of dating things that it just took some time to adjust. As I grow older and the years go by a little faster, I have altered that theory; I mean, we don't really write out many checks after all, especially these days.
No, I think sometimes we have a little trouble letting go of the past and maybe, just maybe, that reluctance to closure sometimes manifests itself in a somewhat sloppy electricity payment. Of course, it could just be me. In my profession, you don't get to look back often. It's not just a what-have-you-done-lately world we economic developers live in, it's more what-have-you-done-today-and-what's-in-store-for-tomorrow. So, maybe an occasional sloppy date on a check is my sort of crutch for holding on a little while longer.
If that is the case, my monthly payments should become more legible a little quicker than was the case last January. After all, in 2016, NETWORKS and our partners had been involved in a record number of primary job announcements with more than 1,500. This year, we came back down to a more typical year with 503 new jobs in which we were involved. (There were a couple hundred more announced in Sullivan County, but unlike most economic development organizations, we do not include job creation in our year-end numbers if we didn't work the project in a meaningful way.) Still, we are grateful to the companies that will be putting those 503 jobs on line over the next several months and for the more than $52 million of investment those projects represent.
Among those projects was the move to downtown Bristol by
The clothing company consolidated operations from Atlanta and Charlotte. In addition to the relocation of a handful of employees, officials said they will make about 20 new hires.
announced it was expanding its Phipps Bend Industrial Park facility in Hawkins County. The company will add 15,000 square feet to house an additional 54 employees.
As we leave 2017, we are also encouraged by the number of active projects we are working and the quality of them. In fact, we have had more leads come across our desk and that appears to be a trend we hope to continue for many years to come. While our job numbers didn't break any records, the total announced project count was up from six to eight. We attribute that in large part to our partners in Nashville, with whom we spent a great deal of time this past quarter.
We thanked several members of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development with an evening of fun at Topgolf in Nashville in November. We also enjoyed their company at the
Governor's Conference on Economic Development
in Gatlinburg this October; for the third time in the past four years, I was honored to participate as a panelist, this year on the subject of
Selling Your Site
. Mayors John Clark of Kingsport and Jack Young of Bristol and I represented our region at the
in Greenville, South Carolina, in October as well.
And, of course, I just wrapped up my year as Chairman of the
Tennessee Economic Partnership.
I didn't realize the level of involvement the chairmanship carried, but it was a tremendous experience for which I will forever be grateful. The experience helped raise the profile of NETWORKS and our region as it allowed me to represent the state as "host" to several outbound and inbound marketing events.
Our region and aerospace recruitment efforts received a boost as well this quarter with the official signing of the
Aerospace Park Agreement
in a November ceremony at Tri-Cities Airport. Sullivan and Washington counties along with the cities of Bristol, Kingsport, and Johnson City will share in the costs of an $8.5 million site development project on the 166-acre industrial park, which offers direct runway access.
The Bristol and Kingsport chambers of commerce, under the NETWORKS umbrella, recently earned Sullivan County the
Seal of Approval from the American Association of Retirement Communities.
This distinction is presented annually to communities that demonstrate a cutting-edge commitment to attracting retirees through lifestyle programming, amenity development, communication programs, and education.
Obviously, there was a great deal of things going on as we closed out 2017... all of which give us even more to look forward to in 2018!