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Connecting the Dots Economic development is often referred to as a “team sport.” Or a “relationship business.” Both concepts are embedded in truth to be sure. They also speak to the “new math” of economic development: connecting the dots. It is fitting that our organization is named NETWORKS, as connecting with the right people, programs, initiatives, and direction have become the impetus of a strong economic and community development program of work. Without the properly focused connectivity, an economic development organization becomes a lost leader in today’s world of low unemployment, rapidly changing technology, and transitioning workforce once made up of Baby Boomers and Gen X yielding to Millennials and Gen Z. In 2018, our connectivity – in terms of relationships and an understanding of programs and the necessary steps in creating a viable, competitive economic development product – created several opportunities for long term success. In addition to substantial investment and steady job growth from the private sector, we saw significant assistance in the form of grants from our partners at TNECD, TVA, and AEP which will be crucial in improving our industrial sites. Our work with Oak Ridge National Laboratory led to taking a group of our advanced manufacturing companies to the lab, where they learned more about (or, were connected to) the programs available to them; since the trip, at least four of them are utilizing ORNL’s services. Although it doesn’t nearly encompass the majority of the work of an EDO, the public spotlight seems to shine brightest on new job and investment announcements. We did pretty well in that category in 2018 as well, with just over 600 new jobs announced through recruitment of new companies to our area and expansions of existing industry; these 11 projects represented more than $530 million of investment in our community and approximately another 950 indirect (or secondary) jobs. With all of this activity, however, our organization did not make 2018 about what we were doing right. Last year was about examining what opportunities for improvement existed for NETWORKS and the communities we serve. You’re probably thinking, “Don’t you do that every year?” and the answer is of course we do. But last year we made a very intentional shift to constantly question, examine and re-examine, and then recommit to a newly sharpened focus, the pinnacle of taking stock being at a twoday strategic planning retreat. We covered quite a bit of ground, but soon came up with three areas of emphasis on which to more deeply engage our Board of Directors: product development (buildings and sites), regionalism, and workforce development. While significant work is well underway in all three areas, including the production of a living document that outlines a path to improved regional collaboration and perhaps even formal agreements among area EDOs, most of the work in each category will be rolled out publicly in the first half of 2019. Suffice it to say, while our CEO and staff – the professional economic developers – are on top of the latest economic development issues and best practices, our Board is very engaged in determining the direction of our organization. We take this task seriously. In recent years, the disparity of growth between major metros versus communities of our size has grown wider. But we are confident that we are better positioned than most to turn this challenge into an opportunity. Doing so is what has made us Where Tennessee Begins Its Business Day. We just have to continue to work together and connect the dots.

Carolyn Ferrell 2 • NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership Annual Report • 2018

Tennessee Begins Its Business Day to C-suite executives and leading site location consultants. NETWORKS’s project management and marketing team continued to rely heavily on its partnerships and relationships with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Tennessee Economic Partnership, TVA, AEP, Northeast Tennessee Valley Regional Industrial Development Association, and other local and regional economic and community development organizations to reach a broader audience as well as find some new vehicles to carry our message.

“A community or region of our size can certainly do a great deal to build and promote its own brand and even generate a fair amount of leads and prospect activity,” Clay Walker, CEO of NETWORKS, said. “Still, we can’t develop nearly the amount of activity and prosperity on our own than we get from our partners, TNECD in particular. So, through being a leading partner with TEP, staying in close contact with the state’s management team and business development directors, other communities and support organizations, we maximize the benefit of Team Tennessee. While we pride ourselves in creative marketing, it would be foolish to ever get away from this great network of partners.”

Team Tennessee

For the third consecutive year, NETWORKS was represented at every outbound TEP event and the organization’s two state-wide inbound events – the CMA Festival and Consultant Connect’s ECONOMIX conference – both held in Nashville. (TEP sponsors three other inbound events that are exclusive to the members in the regions in which they are held, one of them being NETWORKS’s Northeast Tennessee Red Carpet Tour.) Last year’s slate of events included the IAMC conference in Savannah, Georgia, and target market trips to Detroit, Chicago, and New York. “Where Tennessee Begins Its Business Day is a brand that sends a strong message about Sullivan and Hawkins counties, and really the entire northeast corner of Tennessee,” said Kyle Spurgeon, President and CEO of the Jackson Chamber and 2019 Chairman of TEP. “NETWORKS has developed and promoted an image supported by its legacy of economic development success. As we market Tennessee through the Tennessee Economic Partnership, your brand resonates and strengthens the appeal of an already desirable location.” Although not affiliated with TEP, NETWORKS joined a large group of economic development organizations, including TNECD and TVA, at the Site Selectors Guild annual conference in Cincinnati, arguably the premier event for interacting with site location consultants. Not only do these events represent great opportunities to familiarize consultants with our state and communities, they enable our team to strengthen our relationships with state partners, particularly those with TNECD. “Within our strategic plan, you find Recruit the Recruiters as a key activity,” Walker said. “Our state’s economic development team works across 95 counties; we want to make sure we are always front of mind as they represent the front door to Tennessee for a vast majority of projects. We make sure they are aware of what we have to offer, in terms of properties, workforce, and our culture. It is our responsibility to keep them informed of pertinent news that helps them sell us. The best way to do that is to demonstrate our value as a partner.”


Each year presents challenges and opportunities to tell our region’s story and extend our brand of Where

Northeast Tennessee Red Carpet Tour

Working under the TEP umbrella, NETWORKS and its partners hosted the region’s signature marketing event for the fifth straight year, the Northeast Tennessee Red Carpet Tour. Some of the nation’s top consultants attend this annual event, showcasing the area’s business advantages and unique quality of life. The weekend culminates with VIP access at the Bristol Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. This year, a songwriter’s night NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership Annual Report • 2018 • 3


at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum was added, featuring Grammy-winning songwriter Tim Nichols. The event has become known for its regional flavor with partners Blount Partnership, Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, Greene County Partnership, and Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership attending and given the opportunity to present overviews of their communities. The Tennessee Department for Economic and Community Development once again sent several project managers and senior management members. Other partners include TVA, AEP, and NETVRIDA.

Quality of Life Video

Two years ago, NETWORKS teamed with Kingsport-based Cumberland Marketing to produce a Community Video as a brief overview of our area as a desirable place to live and do business. The video – which was to be the first in a series of three to five shorter features with more specific subject matters – had much more of an impact than anticipated, boasting more than half a million unique viewers within six months of its posting. In May of 2018, NETWORKS released the first of the follow-up videos, spotlighting the area’s quality of life. The video features the unique, magnetic attributes our region has to offer in an up-tempo, lively production, designed to appeal to a broad range of people, particularly millennials. When the NETWORKS Board of Directors viewed the finished product prior to it going live, they believed that its regional tone would be of great value to other economic development and tourism organizations, chambers of commerce, and businesses throughout the Tri-Cities area. Therefore, NETWORKS made the video available to any organization. Thus far, 10 organizations have asked for and been granted permission to use the video. “This video is very flexible with multiple potential audiences and uses,” Cumberland President Chris Bowen said. “I see this finished product as a great tool in not only NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership’s mission, but for private companies to use when trying to lure top talent to join them.” Both videos can be viewed at networkstn.com under the News & Events section.

Aerospace Industry Sector

With the funding in place and work underway toward the completion of the Aerospace Park, NETWORKS staff members teamed with Tri-Cities Airport setting up appointments with site location consultants to discuss Northeast Tennessee as a destination for aerospace projects, making two outbound trips (Dallas and South Carolina) to meet with national firms in addition to the inbound Northeast Tennessee Red Carpet Tour and other efforts with TEP. “This year has been extraordinary in our efforts to promote and develop Aerospace Park,” Mark Canty, Director of Trade and Business Development at Tri-Cities Airport, said. “NETWORKS has been a major factor in our success, especially in raising awareness of the park with site selectors and state and regional economic development officials. NETWORKS has consistently partnered with us on print advertisements, trade show displays, and hosting industry visits. “Their dedication of resources towards our annual display at the MRO Americas tradeshow ensures that we have both the proper level of brand recognition in the exhibit hall and a level of presence at the booth to make the show a success.” With Canty at the point, NETWORKS partnered with the airport for the fourth consecutive year to exhibit at the MRO Americas show in Orlando and to attend and visit with various companies at the NBAA show for the fifth time in as many years, also held in Orlando in 2018. The team makes joint calls with target market specialists from TNECD and TVA who are also at these events.

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pectations, missions, and results of its practitioners. Last year, record low unemployment and advances in production technologies were evident as investment numbers rose, but labor estimates for new projects decreased from previous norms. The NETWORKS-served counties of Sullivan and Hawkins were the ultimate choice of 11 projects. These projects will create 608 jobs, a much lower average of jobs-perproject than in years past, but represent a record-setting $530,757,500 of private investment.

Anita’s Snack Foods

Anita’s Snack Foods moved into the former Pure Foods building in Kingsport in July. The California-based family-run company, a producer of tortilla and corn chips, will employ 101 people and invest nearly $4 million. Company President Ric Alvarez explained that Kingsport was an ideal location based on logistics and bordering highways. Alvarez commented, “Many of our customers ask us to manufacture and distribute on the eastern side of the United States. We looked at the area and the logistics around the Kingsport area as being very favorable to do that.”

RMC Advanced Technologies

In May, state and local officials celebrated the announcement of RMC Advanced Technologies’ new U.S. headquarters and new manufacturing facility to be established in Phipps Bend Industrial Park. The composite components manufacturer will invest $7 million and create 54 new jobs. “I want to welcome RMC to Hawkins County and thank the company for choosing to locate its U.S. headquarters and manufacturing facility in Surgoinsville,” TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe said. “It means a great deal that another international-based company has chosen our state for its new operations. Tennessee is home to more than 70 Canadian-owned companies that employ approximately 8,000 Tennesseans and we appreciate RMC for creating 54 new jobs in our state and Surgoinsville.”


Economic development is a process in constant change. Numerous factors affect the strategies, ex-


In June, Microporous announced plans to expand its Piney Flats operations and celebrated with a groundbreaking event. The company plans to add 36 employees to its current employment of 134. The expected capital investment is $20 million. This will further enhance the capabilities of the company to provide additional products which will supply industries across our region and beyond. The investment will include new equipment purchases and a 40,000 square-foot addition to the building. “Microporous’s decision to expand its Piney Flats facility is a true testament to our strong workforce and superb business environment,” said Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable. “Microporous leadership could have chosen to expand elsewhere and we are honored that they chose Sullivan County.”

Ware Manufacturing

Ware Manufacturing announced plans of an expansion, resulting in 32 new jobs and $1.1 million in capital investment, in May. The company is located in Phipps Bend Industrial Park and is an industry leader in the manufacturing and distribution of new and innovative products for pets. “I thank Ware Manufacturing on its decision to expand in Surgoinsville,” said Commissioner Rolfe. “Since 2011, Hawkins County has had 15 projects resulting in the creation of more than 900 jobs. I appreciate Ware Manufacturing for creating over 30 new jobs in Hawkins County and for its 25-year commitment to Tennessee and Surgoinsville.”

Master Tool & Die

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, TNECD Commissioner Rolfe, and Master Tool & Die, Inc. officials announced March 5 that the manufacturer will expand in Kingsport. NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership Annual Report • 2018 • 5 NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership Annual Report • 2018 • 5


Master Tool & Die, DBA Master Precision Machining, announced in March its plans to expand Kingsport operations. This will result in 25 new jobs and $557,500 in capital investment, which will be used for facility upgrades. The company was founded in 1988 and provides custom CNC machining, welding, fabrication, and other services for businesses throughout the Southeastern U.S. “We are excited that Master Tool & Die has chosen to expand its Kingsport operation, creating 25 new high-paying jobs for our residents,” said Kingsport Mayor John Clark. “We look forward to working with Master Tool & Die as it continues to thrive in Northeast Tennessee.”

Universal Machine & Tool

This summer, Kingsport’s Universal Machine & Tool completed a 7,500 square-foot expansion to accommodate new equipment, which will allow the company to take on larger work. This expansion resulted in 20 new jobs and $3 million in capital investment.

AGC Glass

AGC Glass North America announced in January plans to expand its Hawkins County operations. The glass manufacturer will invest $40.6 million and create 85 new jobs. AGC plans to add more than 100,000 additional square feet of manufacturing space to this facility and will also install a state-of-theart MSVD coater to serve the residential and commercial glass markets. “Our Church Hill, Tennessee facility has two flat glass lines that will support this innovative coater. As the world’s largest glass manufacturer, this investment in North America allows us to expand the industry’s largest product offering and continue to augment our world-class service that is second to none,” Mike Antonucci, Regional President for AGC Glass North America, said. “Our new coater will provide architects, planners, engineers and developers the ability to create tomorrow’s environment.”

Holston Army Ammunition Plant (BAE)

Holston Army Ammunition Plant (BAE) added 175 jobs in 2018, bringing its employment total up to 985. The company also announced a $450 million expansion and plans to modernize the design, construction, and commissioning of all facets of the Holston facility operations in Kingsport. The efforts are varied and will include large and small scale projects. Construction will begin next year.

Corrugated Container Corporation

Following the company’s purchase by DS Smith in May, Corrugated Container Corporation hired 22 new employees and invested $3 million in equipment upgrades. This follows the company’s 64,000 squarefoot expansion of the Piney Flats facility in 2017.

Seaman Corporation

Seaman Corporation completed an expansion project in June, creating 10 new jobs and $2.5 million in capital investment used to purchase equipment. The company produces commercial fabrics, including the FiberTite® roofing system, which has been used at such Tennessee iconic structures as the Grand Ole Opry and Bristol Motor Speedway. “We are thrilled to see Seaman Corporation expanding its presence in Bristol after experiencing the Bristol community’s great quality of life and business-friendly environment,” said Bristol Mayor Margaret Feierabend. “We look forward to many more years of partnering with Seaman and its employees.”

Summit Consulting Services, Inc.

Summit Consulting Services announced an expansion in late November. The company, which provides contract services such as marketing, human resources, payroll, insurance, and employee benefits, plans to hire 20 new employees and invest $2 million. The larger Bristol facility will include 10,000 square feet for co-working space.


Neopharma purchased Dr. Reddy’s Bristol operations and plans to hire an additional 50 employees; at the time of acquisition, Dr. Reddy’s employed 40. The company produces products for and provides therapy options in the chronic care segment of healthcare. Neopharma is based in Abu Dhabi and has a presence in more than 50 countries; this is its first operation in the United States.

6 • NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership Annual Report • 2018

continue its rise to unprecedented heights, existing industry services came into sharper focus than ever. NETWORKS existing industry expansion and retention program – FIRST – was designed to assist large employers and the entire manufacturing community. The activities of the program include one-on-one visits and group meetings that include state economic development officials and other resources, particularly those engaged in education and workforce development to ensure that the existing employer base can establish relationships with these support agencies and each other.

ORNL Visit

One of the most valuable and unique resources our region has to offer is Oak Ridge National Laboratory. More than a dozen industries joined NETWORKS staff and partners on a visit to the lab in March to learn about the many programs offered and potential for partnerships with the largest US Department of Energy science and energy facility which conducts basic and applied research to deliver transformative solutions. Many of the participating companies are currently working in some capacity with ORNL. “Oak Ridge National Laboratory prioritizes partnerships with industry that leverage our unique scientific expertise and capabilities,” said ORNL’s Jesse Smith, Director for Industrial Partnerships. “Our strong relationships with economic development organizations such as NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership help us connect with innovative companies across the region to explore collaborative opportunities in manufacturing and other industries.”

Transloading Facility Exploration

In recent years, many companies have expressed a need for more warehouse space available for lease, particularly facilities served by rail. NETWORKS staff has been working towards identifying potential sites, private developers, and management companies in the hopes of creating such a multi-tenant facility through a public-private partnership. Once grant programs were identified to develop a rail-accessible site in Partnership Park II, a transloading facility became a potential use for the property. NETWORKS and its partners began looking at best practices including a visit to one of the more successful facilities in Somerset, Kentucky.

Bristol Hiring Expo

The City of Bristol’s Hiring Expos, held at Bristol Motor Speedway, have become the standard when it comes to matching companies with would-be staff members in recent years. Its economic development and marketing team continued to expand its program this year. Supported by NETWORKS, the expo also allowed participation by Sullivan County companies outside of the City as well as those located in Bristol, Virginia. Each expo offers thousands of open positions within 50 or more compa-

nies, many of which are filled on the spot.

E2E Summit

The First Tennessee Development District held a regional Education to Employment (E2E) Summit in Washington County in late August. The event brought together education and workforce development organizations, business and industry leaders, elected officials, and economic developers to discuss solutions to building a stronger workforce pipeline. “A strong, skilled workforce is one of the top three things businesses thinking about investing in an area want to know exists in a region,” Lottie Ryans, Director of Workforce and Literacy Initiatives for the FTDD, said. “They understand the region will be where the workforce comes from, so knowing that everyone is working together to build that pipeline is critical.”


In a year that saw unemployment drop to record lows and the number of employed Tennesseans

(continued on page 11)

NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership Annual Report • 2018 • 7

Strategic Planning R etreat

Re-examining and altering the organization’s Strategic Plan

is nothing new to NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership’s staff, Board of Directors, and stakeholders. They review the plan and make appropriate changes each fall. But in the summer of 2018, leadership decided that a more thorough, thoughtful self-examination was needed. After all, NETWORKS has taken on many new programs of work and gone through numerous changes in staffing and leadership in recent years. The team carved out two days to take inventory of its performance, identify the most pressing areas of focus, and game-plan on some of the specific issues.

The retreat, hosted by the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM) and Bristol Motor Speedway, was facilitated by Jody Lentz, of Nashville, who has worked with several economic development organizations over the years including the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and TVA. NETWORKS CEO Clay Walker met Lentz while participating in the Nashville Chamber’s retreat more than 10 years ago. While most of the existing NETWORKS Strategic Plan was left in place with minor modifications – such as marketing and branding, the Recruit the Recruiters strategy, existing industry services and maximizing partnerships with other local, regional, and state economic development groups, professional organizations, area business and industry, and stakeholders – the team assembled, identified, and put a strong emphasis on three areas of focus: Product Development: beyond the grants and site improvements currently underway (please see the Product Development section of this report), our region is noticeably low on inventory of shovel-ready industrial sites. To keep up in the highly competitive arena of economic development, more sites need to be identified and controlled and many of our existing sites’ topographical and infrastructure shortcomings must be addressed. Regionalism: a word that has gotten a great deal of attention in recent months in Northeast Tennessee. The Board and its partners concluded that NETWORKS was best suited to be a leader in a regional economic development effort, perhaps even expanding our brand of Where Tennessee Begins Its Business Day and our attraction and marketing work to include a broader geographical area if those governments and existing EDOs saw value in it. Workforce Development & Attraction: as workforce continues to be the driving factor behind an overwhelming majority of new business attraction and existing business expansion decisions, economic developers have become more engaged in this challenge. While we anticipate continuing to partner with other organizations such as NeTREP in programs they are leading, we will also continue to work with our partners and network of resources to ensure we are doing everything possible to provide an ample, qualified workforce for new and existing industry. Lentz said of the retreat, “It was great to work with Clay’s team and Board on a strategy for NETWORKS; they are doing all of the right things to make the most of their communities’ unique opportunities and challenges. Their emerging approach to regional economic development promises to help businesses and working people across the Tri-Cities area.” Since the retreat, several steps have been made by staff and partners assigned to each of those strategies’ committees. Properties best suited for economic development (primarily manufacturing) are being identified and current publicly owned sites and parks are being evaluated and prioritized to improve their marketability. An outline and white It was great to work with Clay’s paper have been prepared in draft form for a new team and Board on a strategy regional structure and division of responsibilities for NETWORKS; they are doing all of the among existing groups. It includes a concept of a right things to make the most of their regional umbrella. NETWORKS and NeTREP’s Board leadership and CEOs have begun discussions about communities’ unique opportunities and how each organization can and should evolve for challenges. Their emerging approach to the betterment of the region and are working with regional economic development promisthe mayors of the Tri-Cities and Sullivan and Washes to help businesses and working people ington counties to ensure the action plan fits into the regional strategies being developed within the across the Tri-Cities area. public sector. The workforce committee is evaluating current programs and resources in Northeast Tennessee and examining best practices within Tennessee JODY LENTZ and nationally. Retreat Facilitator

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Aerospace Park

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. TDOT awarded $4.1 million toward the project, TNECD contributed a $500,000 Rural Development Grant, and TVA awarded Tri-Cities Airport 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 the site to fixed wing projects, with an emphasis on MRO operations.

Bristol Business Park

In August, Bristol Tennessee Essential Services broke ground on a site development project: 36 acres of a 50acre site will be excavated to suit the construction of a 420,000 square-foot building. This project was made possible by a $500,000 TNECD Rural Development Grant and TVA InvestPrep Grant. Bristol Business Park, a BTES-owned property, is one of four Select Tennessee Certified Sites in the NETWORKS service area.

Partnership Park II

NETWORKS property Partnership Park II received the largest award possible in a Site Development Grant from TNECD. The $1 million will be used to complete site grading improvements to create a 30-acre pad-ready rail site. Partnership Park II is also a Select Tennessee Certified Site.

College and University Partnerships

Northeast State Community College and the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM) continued to grow this year with strategic partnerships that will support workforce development in the region. In August, Northeast State and Bristol-based King University announced a dual admission agreement, which eases the transition from community college to a four-year program by providing guidance from academic advisors at both institutions, and culminates in a lower-cost bachelor’s degree. Northeast State’s Aviation Technology program announced an expanded laboratory for students later that month. Milligan College and Northeast State also renewed their transfer agreement for nursing, allowing Northeast State graduates to enter Milligan with junior status in the BSN program for initial licensure. Tusculum University also signed a dual admission agreement with Northeast State.


The best marketing and recruitment programs will not mean much to a community that does not have places for companies to locate or one that cannot provide a skilled workforce or the programs and facilities for continued training. Last year, NETWORKS and its partners were able to continue their tradition of making sound investments in our economic development product, with the assistance of some meaningful site development grants, and our education and workforce development organizations gave us plenty of good news to market.

In October, Northeast State celebrated a $29.8 million, 114,475 square-foot Technical Education Complex with a groundbreaking. The ground floor will house lab space for skill sets related to advanced manufacturing, including welding, CNC machining, and HVAC. The top floor will be home to Business Technologies programs and will have space for programs such as computer programming and cyber security. Dr. Bethany Flora was appointed as President of Northeast State in November following James King’s retirement. Dr. Flora was previously the associate director of the Center for Community College Leadership at ETSU, where she also served as an associate professor of postsecondary leadership. NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership Annual Report • 2018 • 9


RCAM’s Northeast State Registered Apprenticeship Program continues to thrive. In September, four apprentices from Johnson City-based Fiber Innovation Technology (FIT) signed on to the innovative apprenticeship program. Elizabethton-based Snap-On Tools sponsored an apprentice later in the month. The program has now grown to 94 apprenticeships.

ACT Work Ready Community Certification

Hawkins and Sullivan counties received ACT’s Work Ready Community (WRC) designation in December, becoming the first two counties in East Tennessee to receive the designation. This initiative is aimed at making communities more competitive by closing the skills gap that threatens economic growth, and the effort provides a community-based framework that: links workforce development to education, aligns with the economic development needs of the region, and matches individuals to jobs based on skill levels. Dr. Jeff McCord, Vice President, Economic and Workforce Development for Northeast State and chair of Sullivan County’s Work Ready Community Committee noted, “It was a great idea that came to the community through the United Way, but it has also been a long effort with plenty of barriers. Still, we had a very strong team composed of individuals from industry, government, economic development, K-12 education, and higher education who just made it happen. It’s the way it’s supposed to work.”

Team News

In late summer, Project Manager Brian Ritz resigned from his position with NETWORKS to pursue a business opportunity with a longtime colleague. Leadership took his departure as an opportunity to restructure and realign current staff with their evolving responsibilities, promoting Michael Parker from Executive Project Manager to Director of Economic Development and Dana Glenn from Administrative and Marketing Coordinator to Director of Marketing and Business Development. With those roles redefined, Abby Mease of Bulls Gap joined the team as Administrative Assistant. She and her husband, Rob, recently relocated from northern Ohio, where she worked for 15 years as the Accounting and Administration Manager for Ovation Polymer Technology and Engineered Materials.

Tully Earns CEcD

Lynn Tully, Development Services Director for the City of Kingsport, earned the highest designation in the economic development profession, passing the test to become a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) through the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The designation confirms the highest levels core of competencies across the breadth of topics necessary to being a well-rounded and successful economic developer.

Luttrell Joins Bristol Economic Development Staff

Although he was already considered a part of the team through his work while on the City of Bristol’s marketing department, one might say Jon Luttrell earned his letter jacket when he was named Business Development Specialist for the City. Luttrell filled the vacancy created when former Director of Business Development Mike Sparks, who had retired from that position to work in the Business Development Specialist role in recent years, announced his retirement from the City earlier in the year.

Parker, Luttrell Honored among Forty under 40

Luttrell and Parker were named to the Tri-Cities Business Journal’s Forty Under 40, chosen for their business achievement and community involvement. More than 80 nominees were submitted, with the ultimate group being honored at a gala in October that was attended by more than 250 business leaders. It marked the second consecutive year for a NETWORKS team member to be selected, as Glenn was among the honorees in 2017.

10 • NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership Annual Report • 2018

Eastman Recognitions

2018 was another big year for Eastman, earning numerous awards and recognitions. In February, the company was named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies® for the fifth consecutive year. Eastman received the Extraordinary Employer Support Award from the Department of Defense program, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR); this is only the second time a company based in Tennessee has earned this recognition. The company also received the 2018 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence Award. This marks Eastman’s seventh ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award and fifth Sustained Excellence recognition. Forbes identified Eastman as one of America’s Best Large Employers, ranking #232 out of the 500 large employers on the list.

Miyake Hosts Open House

Miyake Forging North America held a grand opening of its plant in Phipps Bend Industrial Park in September. Company executives, government officials, chambers of commerce, and economic development organizations were given tours of the 45,000 square-foot facility. Miyake, a Japan-based bearing and parts company, announced in June of 2017 that it would invest $13.7 million in the project and hire some 60 people.

MARKETING & ATTRACTION (continued from page 4) “MRO Americas and NBAA are the premier shows for the type of projects that best suit our region and, of course, Aerospace Park,” said Director of Economic Development Michael Parker. “Like so many marketing avenues, trade shows really are a process, a relationship building exercise. We have many regular contacts tracking the developments of the park, how Northeast State Community College’s Aviation Program is growing, and other economic development programs in our region and these shows are great opportunities to nurture those relationships and start new ones.

Other Media Attention

While NETWORKS utilizes traditional means of spreading and reinforcing its brand such as print and online advertising, its marketing philosophy of seeking unique platforms to reach its audience was prevalent throughout 2018. “Print advertisements, presence at trade shows, direct mail and e-mail campaigns, and other tried and true methods of reaching people are certainly in our portfolio; it’s unlikely we will ever abandon these vehicles completely,” says Dana Glenn, Marketing and Business Development Director. “But we look for nontraditional avenues as well, that aren’t as crowded with other economic development groups competing for attention. In the magazines in which we advertise, we like to show up in the editorial content, giving us third-party validation. We look for the next big thing before it becomes the norm, such as the Success Files report and our ad campaign in professional sports franchises’ yearbooks.”


EXISTING BUSINESS & INDUSTRY (continued from page 7)

CEO Clay Walker was featured several times in national and international site selection publications to discuss Northeast Tennessee’s differentiating advantages in areas such as education and workforce development, the aerospace sector, and land development. Success Files with Rob Lowe, a syndicated news magazine television series, was in post-production of a feature about Northeast Tennessee as destination for aerospace manufacturing facilities at year’s end. The four-minute segment – which prominently features Tri-Cities Aerospace Park – is expected to run on up to four major networks in early 2019. NETWORKS was able to secure the spot through a competitive process among several other EDOs the news company had identified as candidates through an on-line search. NETWORKS and Tri-Cities Airport, along with other partners, will be able to post the feature on their websites. The feature will be added to the video loop at aerospace trade shows as part of the NETWORKS and Aerospace Park exhibit booth. NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership Annual Report • 2018 • 11


Downtown Kingsport saw almost $600,000 in new investment, including a large expansion of the public library, and a new entrepreneur’s “Inventor Center”. Other new retailers downtown include Reedy Creek Bikes, Boomtown Clothing, Perfectly Unhinged, and the Bays Mountain Brewery currently under construction. Along with retail development, downtown homes and lofts have increased with renovations under way at 114 Cherokee and the completion of the first phase of Town Park Lofts. The Fort Henry Mall added Charley’s Steakery and Sweet Spoon. Downtown Bristol will soon welcome Lost State Distilling to its downtown; a groundbreaking celebrating the repurposing of the building was held in July, and the company will be fully operational in early 2019, producing craft gin, rum, and small batch Tennessee whiskey. New downtown retailers include the Hemp Cove, and new tenants at the Pinnacle include Burgerim and Drake’s.

NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership is the economic development organization serving the Northeastern Tennessee communities in Sullivan – including charter partners Bluff City, Bristol, and Kingsport – and Hawkins counties. Our team of professionals is ready and able to assist you and your company reach your fullest potential here.

Where Tennessee Begins Its Business Day Voting Members: Carolyn Ferrell, Robinette Co – Chairman; Bill Sumner, Bell – Vice Chairman; David Wagner, Bank of Tennessee – Secretary/Treasurer; Jerry Caldwell – Bristol Motor Speedway; John Campbell – AccelNow; John Clark – Mayor, Kingsport; Michelle Denise – Bristol; Margaret Feierabend – Mayor, Bristol; David Golden – Eastman; Lea Powers – Bristol; Richard Venable – Mayor, Sullivan County; Irene Wells – Mayor, Bluff City; Eddie Williams – retired Ex-Officio Members: Dr. Michael Browder - BTES; Jeffery Dykes – BrightRidge; Jeff Fleming – City Manager, Kingsport; Dr. Gary Lilly – Bristol City Schools; Dr. Jeff McCord – Northeast State Community College (RCAM); Dr. Jeff Moorhouse – Kingsport City Schools; Evelyn Rafalowski – Sullivan County Schools; Bill Sorah – City Manager, Bristol; Rick Tunnell – AEP; Clay Walker – NETWORKS CEO

PO Box 747, Blountville, TN 37617 • networkstn.com • 423.279.7681

Clay Walker, CEcD • CEO


Dana Glenn • Director of Marketing & Business Development

Michael Parker • Director of Economic Development mparker@networkstn.com


Abby Mease • Administrative Assistant


Profile for NETWORKS - Sullivan Partnership

NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership 2018 Annual Report  

A report on 2018 economic development and business activities in Sullivan and Hawkins counties - Where Tennessee Begins Its Business Day.

NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership 2018 Annual Report  

A report on 2018 economic development and business activities in Sullivan and Hawkins counties - Where Tennessee Begins Its Business Day.