Champions to spearhead NETWORKS five goals

Rick Wagner • Apr 23, 2009 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County’s joint economic development effort has identified “champions” for five goals addressed at a February education and work force development summit.

NETWORKS – Sullivan Partnership is now seeking volunteers to work in the five areas.

At a NETWORKS board meeting held at Northeast State Technical Community College on Thursday, Chairman Keith Wilson announced that Terry Cunningham of the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority, April Eads of Bristol Tennessee Essential Services and Eastman Chemical Co. retirees Nick Grabar and Lynn Johnson have agreed to be champions for the five goals set at the Feb. 19 summit.

Wilson said one of the champions and his or her team will handle two goals.

The goals are:

• Have students achieve the higher high school graduation standards of the Tennessee Diploma Project.

• Ensure all high school graduates in the county’s three public school systems are eligible for the Educate and Grow scholarships at Northeast State.

• Increase the residents with higher education degrees.

• Foster a learning culture in the community.

• Ensure local education systems are recognized for excellence nationally.

Eads gave the board a report on how two groups of graduate students at East Tennessee State University have helped with the pre-summit and the summit, with a third group she also will coach to help with post-summit activities.

She said one student had personal experience of graduating from high school in Virginia with 21 semester credit hours because of dual-enrollment programs, something that focus groups at the summit recommended as an emphasis in Kingsport, Sullivan County and Bristol, Tenn., schools.

NETWORKS CEO Richard Venable said getting the leadership of all three schools to the summit showed their cooperative spirit.

On other matters, Tommy Olterman, a project manager with the Tennessee Valley Authority, said officials may videotape a “Doing Business with Volkswagen” meeting set for 8 to 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 28, at Bristol Motor Speedway because demand has outstripped the available 150 seats.

The event, sponsored by the Northeast Tennessee Regional Industrial Development Association and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, is focused on helping regional companies arrange to do business with the $1 billion VW plant slated to open in Chattanooga in 2011.

“This is not happening anywhere else in the state,” Venable said.

NETWORKS is a joint effort of Sullivan County, Kingsport, Bristol, Tenn., and Bluff City.

For more information, go to www.networkstn.com.

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