Quarterly Newsletter

Community Stakeholders Report - Quarter One - 2021

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From the Desk of the CEO

Dust in the Wind

From moving dirt on a new industrial site to NASCAR’s return to clay at BMS, there’s been plenty of opportunity to get dirty lately

As I was growing up, my dad always joked about me that if there was a mud puddle to be found, I would find it. He wasn’t wrong. I seldom came into the house for supper with clean clothes. I was reminded of that recently when a friend’s warning kept me from stepping into a puddle as we walked through a parking lot. Then again as BTES hosting a groundbreaking for its site development in the Bristol Business Park in March. That event came on the heels of my dodging puddles (I managed to sidestep most of them) to get into Bristol Motor Speedway so that I could witness NASCAR’s return to dirt track racing.

We also saw Eastman in the news once again, breaking new ground when it announced it would invest $250 million to build one of the world’s largest plastic-to-plastic recycling facilities at its Kingsport plant. The project will convert polyester waste into a durable product as part of its circular economy approach, supporting the company’s commitment to addressing the world waste crisis and mitigating challenges created by climate change. The initiative will create about 80 new jobs.

Speaking of turning good environmental stewardship into good business, work began on Domtar’s retrofit as the Kingsport facility converts from paper to recycled containerboard production. The company announced the ambitious project in December which represents a $350 million investment and will keep 150 jobs in Northeast Tennessee.

Just up the road from Eastman and Domtar, Kingsport’s Bays Mountain began celebrating its 50th year as a city park, launching a website with loads of information about the park and all the ways the city will be marking the milestone throughout the year.

Other groundbreaking news in this quarter’s newsletter include: East Tennessee State University launching its research corporation, which will be led by former NETWORKS Board Member and retired Eastman VP David Golden, Tennessee High School, and JA Street Construction partnering on an apprenticeship program, and First Tennessee Development District unveiling two initiatives – an aggressive campaign to expedite COVID-19 vaccinations through a $500,000 grant from Blue Cross/Blue Shield and a regional Wages and Benefits Survey, supported by NETWORKS and other economic development organizations throughout Northeast Tennessee.

Our team has continued partnerships with the FTDD and NeTREP in existing industry outreach, we convened our Workforce Development Committee – which had been sidelined by pandemic restrictions – and continued our participation with Tennessee Economic Partnership (TEP) with virtual consultant visits. And we are all looking forward to all of these activities can be discussed face-to-face and not on our computer screens.

Whenever that day comes, we will be ready to get out there, roll up our sleeves, and do whatever it takes to get the job done. We’ve never been afraid to get a little dirty.

In The News...

Celebrating 50 Years of Adventure at Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium

Regional Wage & Benefit Survey Now Live

The First Tennessee Development District is excited to announce that the Regional Wage & Benefit Survey is now live. Designed for the region’s manufacturers, the survey will collect vital information on wages and benefits structure and provide valuable insight into the true cost of doing business in Northeast Tennessee, while maintaining the confidentiality of respondents. READ MORE

Socially speaking

AEP - Economic & Business Development Manager


AEP has named Whitney Czelusniak manager – Economic & Business Development for its Virginia and Tennessee area, effective March 22, 2021. In this role, based in Roanoke, VA, Whitney will promote the AEP-Appalachian Power region to new customers, assist our growing existing customers, and assist our external economic development partners to achieve their goals.

Upcoming Meeting - Networks Sullivan Partnership Executive Committee Board Meeting

Wednesday, May 12th, 8am

This is an online event.

Join Zoom Meeting

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Ronnie Price - Economic Development Specialist