ROGERSVILLE — One of the early developers of Hawkins County's Phipps Bend Industrial Park will be returning to Northeast Tennessee next month to assist with industrial recruitment and retention in Sullivan and Hawkins counties.
Ronnie Price, who retired at the end of December as director of the Weakley County Economic Development Board, will be joining the staff of NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership part time on Feb. 1. NETWORKS provides industrial recruiting services for Hawkins and Sullivan Counties.
Price was the Hawkins County Industrial Developer from 1982-06, prior to leaving for Weakley County.
His primary duty at NETWORKS will be working with existing industry, but Price told the Times News Thursday he will be available help NETWORKS in any way he can.
He's currently in the process of selling his house in Weakley County and picking out a new home in Hawkins County.
Price was supposed to retire this past June, but then Weakley County landed Korean appliance manufacturer LG Electronics Inc. which built a plant there, and he was asked to stay and help facilitate the infrastructure installation.
"I'm looking forward to coming home," Price told the Time News Thursday. "That's home and it's where I grew up, and I look forward to coming back. (NETWORKS CEO) Clay Walker and I have known each other for years, because we were very active on the state level with the Tennessee Economic Partnership and some other organizations. I would see him at different events and we kept in touch, and when I told him I was going to retire we started talking and he said there might be something I might want to do part time."
He started as Hawkins County's industrial developer five weeks after the Tennessee Valley Authority canceled the nuclear power plant at Phipps Bend, and his early career ran parallel with the development of the industrial park.
He was part of the land acquisition in 1987, the infrastructure installation, and the recruitment of its original plants.
Price added, "Whatever he (Walker) wants me to do I'll be glad to do it. Obviously if I can help with Phipps Bend I will. I'm not going to get in the way, but I think I know a little bit about it. I was there from the first day we talked to TVA about the property, through the three years of trying to buy it, and then trying to get it set up to develop."
NETWORKS marketing director Dana Glenn told the Hawkins County Industrial Development Board Thursday that Price will be meeting with IDB chairman Larry Elkins and coordinator Rebecca Baker to see what he can do to support existing industry programs that Baker has already initiated.
Elkins, who was IDB chairman when Price was hired in 1982, said he highly recommended to Walker that he hire Price if possible.
"He's got a history and was very successful when he was our industrial developer, and we're glad he’s coming back to East Tennessee," Elkins said.