KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner — held Friday night at the MeadowView Marriott — is billed as the nation’s largest.
It does go big.
“It was another perfect night to celebrate this extraordinary city we are so fortunate to call home,” said Miles Burdine, Kingsport Chamber president and CEO. “We highlighted a number of significant accomplishments, investments and new projects in Kingsport in addition to promoting our city’s 100th year. The year 2017 is going to be a memorable year in the life of our community.”
The nation’s so-called “Number One Party Band” — Party on the Moon — entertained another record sold-out crowd of more than 1,700 at “Kingsport’s Social Event of the Year.”
The dinner is also a time to roll out that list of accomplishments, such as:
• City leaders breaking ground on Centennial Park, a “legacy” park in downtown next to the former Kingsport Chamber building and train station to mark Kingsport’s 100th year. The $1.9 million project will feature a circular history walk highlighting Kingsport’s history by decades, an at grade fountain in the center of the park that could double as a play feature, an interactive handcar art piece, and attractive landscaping that will contain trees and park benches, among other elements. The 33,000-square-foot park will open this summer.
• In a historic vote, the Sullivan County Commission, Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Kingsport Board of Education, Sullivan County Education Board and Bristol City Council approved an unprecedented $140 million jointly proposed school facilities plan that will result in a new high school and a new middle school to be constructed in Sullivan County, a new middle school to be built in Bristol, and Kingsport will add a new regional science and technology building at Dobyns-Bennett High School and will convert Sullivan North High School into a new middle school.
• Eastman Chemical Co. opening the company’s new $74.3 million, 300,000-square-foot, five-story global corporate business center, the largest single building permit in city history. The first of many new developments of the company’s $1.6 billion “Project Inspire” effort, the state-of-the-art center serves as Eastman’s global headquarters.
• Leclerc Foods announced it will bring the company’s U.S. headquarters to Kingsport and expand its current Kingsport operations. The $49 million expansion will add a second facility and create 105 new jobs, doubling the company’s workforce in Kingsport. Leclerc Foods is a leader in the cookie, snack bar and cracker industry. The expansion will be completed in 2017.
• Kingsport continuing to enhance its Greenbelt. City Public Works Streets and Sanitation crews paved more than 5,800 feet of the popular nine-mile walking, running and biking trail. More than 690 tons of asphalt were laid, greatly increasing not only the quality of the trail but also the safety. Paving was done on portions of the Greenbelt near Exchange Place, Ravine Street, Netherland Inn Road and Rush Street Neighborhood Grill.
• Kingsport was recognized with the State of Tennessee’s first-ever Healthier Tennessee Community designation by Gov. Bill Haslam for the city’s efforts to improve the overall health of its residents. One of only nine communities in the state to receive the honor, Kingsport was recognized for engaging citizens, employers, schools and congregations to improve the health and well-being of those living and working in the community. Kingsport’s grassroots-level health and wellness efforts are being led by Healthy Kingsport.
• The Kingsport Times-News, Hunter, Smith & Davis law firm, Domtar Corp., Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Home and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church all turning 100 years old.
• The Meadowview Marriott announcing a major $3.5 million renovation of its meeting rooms. The award-winning resort hosted more than 1,000 meetings and conventions last year, generating an economic impact that exceeded $30 million.
• The Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing breaking ground on a $3 million expansion. To be completed in 2017, the new 15,000-square-foot facility is made possible as a part of Eastman’s Project Inspire and additional land donated by Domtar.
• The NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership announcing the creation of 1,540 new jobs in new and existing industry and $70 million in capital investment for the region.
• New apartment construction. Developer Mitch Cox is finalizing completion of Riverbend Villas, a $14 million upscale residential and retail development behind Walmart on Fort Henry Drive and adjacent to the Holston River. Riverbend Villas features a two-story, 265-unit apartment complex that is a medium-density, townhome style community with one-, two- and three-bedroom options with garages. Amenities include a clubhouse, swimming pool, playground and dog park. A 24-acre park is being developed there by the city. The Overlook at Indian Trail, a $11.3 million upscale three-story apartment complex, opened behind Kmart on East Stone Drive adjacent to the Kingsport Greenbelt. Developed by K.D. Moore, Overlook features 168 units offering one-, two- and three-bedroom options. Amenities include a clubhouse, zero-entry swimming pool, playground, garages, wellness center and community fireplace. Total impact will exceed $30 million and will create 60 construction jobs for two years.