NETWORKS exceeds job creation goal

Rick Wagner • Dec 6, 2007 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County’s joint economic development effort has exceeded its goal for new job creation but remains slightly short of its goal for capital investment.

Officials with NETWORKS – Sullivan Partnership — a collaboration of Sullivan County, Kingsport, Bristol, Tenn., and Bluff City — announced at the group’s Thursday meeting that it has been involved in projects that have created 753 new jobs and $36.2 million in capital investment, compared to goals of 600 new jobs and $45 million in capital investment.

“We’ve got a month to go, and we’ve exceeded our goal by 153 jobs,” NETWORKS Chief Executive Officer Richard Venable said during the group’s meeting at Northeast State Technical Community College.

That works out to 183 jobs and $9.8 million from new businesses and industries and 570 jobs and $26.4 million from existing businesses and industries.

The goals were 200 new jobs and $15 million from new businesses and industries and 400 jobs and $30 million from existing.

Of the jobs from existing entities, Venable said 130 were from Touchstone Wireless in Bristol, which recently entered into a new contract.

Andy Burke, president and CEO of the Regional Alliance for Economic Development serving Northeast Tennessee and part of Southwest Virginia, said that NETWORKS came out on top in the region when a mock proposal was sent out by Ohio-based The Austin Consulting Co. The alliance is a marketing umbrella for the region.

The proposal — for a real project that company did for a client in the past — had NETWORKS coming out as the top contender, followed by Greene County second and Washington County, Tenn., a close third, Burke said.

Burke said the alliance’s annual meeting — to be held Jan. 16 at the General Morgan Inn in Greeneville — will feature Dennis Donovan of WDG Consulting, who Burke said was the foremost site location consultant in the world.

Donovan in his keynote address is to go over current trends in site location; what site location consultants expect of local, state and regional economic development officials; and his “high altitude” impressions of Northeast Tennessee and the part of Southwest Virginia in the alliance’s territory.

Burke also said that although the MountainSouth World Trade Center in the alliance hasn’t been in the news lately, a new membership campaign will be kicked off. The territory has been downsized from 57 counties and five states to 23 counties in three states: Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina.

As for updates on parks owned by NETWORKS, Venable said water and sewer engineering is about done for Partnership Park I near Tri-Cities Regional Airport and that groundbreaking should be held in January on the first parcel. Efforts continue to get a Tennessee-funded access road and a Norfolk-Southern rail spur for Partnership Park II near Vance Tank Road near Bristol Metals off State Route 394.

Betty Martin, NETWORKS director of business development, said an application for a natural gas infrastructure grant has gone to the state Gateway Commerce Park, also called Partnership Park III near the interchange of Interstates 81 and 26.

For more information go to networkstn.com.

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