Walker announced near the end of a January NETWORKS board meeting that he has signed on to head up the economic development organization for another four years.
“The most important word in economic development is ‘community,’” Walker told the board.
Walker presented his annual report to the board which said the organization created 600 new jobs, another 950 secondary or indirect jobs and 11 projects with more than $530 million in new investment in 2018.
“Project jobs (was) not what we wanted but if you look at the year as a whole we did very well,” Walker said.
One highlight of the year in marketing, Walker noted for instance, was a quality of life video that got more than 400,000 unique views.
Walker also pointed out that just last month, Sullivan and Hawkins counties became our region’s first counties to be certified under the ACT Work Ready Community program. The other six counties in the Northeast Tennessee region are working toward certification through the First Tennessee Development District.
The biggest 2019 opportunity for NETWORKS seems to be Tri-Cities Airport’s 167-acre Aerospace Park which could attract up to 2,000 aviation-related jobs.
“The region has stepped up over the years in support of the airport, but especially in the development of this incredible industrial site, notably with the cities of Bristol, Johnson City, and Kingsport, along with Sullivan and Washington counties contributing $8.5 million toward the $20.5 million project,” according to a NETWORKS newsletter. “The airport staff pulled the region together in October for a celebration, made all the better by incredible weather and heavy equipment moving large amounts of dirt!”
NETWORKS serves Bluff City, Bristol, Tenn., Kingsport and Sullivan and Hawkins counties.