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From virtual to reality: NETWORKS program can save industries 90 days

Rick Wagner • Updated Jul 13, 2017 at 11:35 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — If an industry wants a 136,000-square-foot building in Sullivan County, one is virtually there and can become reality about three months sooner than a regular site would allow.

At Wednesday’s quarterly board meeting, the NETWORKS — Sullivan Partnership formally launched its Virtual Building Program for a planned facility in the Partnership Park II industrial park in Bristol. It has been nearly two years since NETWORKS officials first publicly discussed the program.

NETWORKS CEO Clay Walker said the virtual building, promoted in a new video on the NETWORKS website, is 136,000 square feet on a 21-acre site, part of a park that is Select Tennessee certified.

The building plans already have the necessary city permits and would have about 130,000 square feet of warehouse space and about 6,000 feet of office space with 30-foot ceilings, although changes can be made to the planned structure.

Walker said the virtual buildings can save businesses about 90 days and they have a popularity that is cyclical.

“I think it’s kind of peaking again right now,” Walker said. “We’re very exited about the virtual building.”

On other matters, Walker said the Red Carpet Tour, which brings consultants to the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway in August, has six consultants confirmed with two to four more expected to confirm in coming weeks. Even for consultants who can’t make it, he said, the invitations give him and his staff a chance to sell Sullivan County and its cities as well as the region and Tennessee. Economic development programs in Blount and Greene counties also are helping with the tour, as is the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce.

Walker also said that regional cooperation also extends to the Northeast Tennessee Partnership of Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties, a group he said is poised to join the Tennessee Economic Partnership that he chairs. That partnership was among NETWORKS and two others in the region that recently agreed to join forces for a magazine ad touting their inclusion in the “Dixie Dozen” for job creation.

The board also viewed a video promoting the recent landing of Miyake Forging North America Corporation at the Phipps Bend Industrial Park in Hawkins County near Surgoinsville, marking the creation of 60 jobs and $13.7 million in capital investment. NETWORKS is a joint effort of Kingsport, Sullivan County, Bristol, Tenn., and Bluff City but also markets Phipps Bend, a joint effort of Kingsport and Hawkins County, for Hawkins County.

Miyake Groundbreaking from Dana Glenn on Vimeo.

Both videos are to be available on the NETWORKS website, networkstn.com/.

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