NETWORKS achieves mixed results on goals; recession blamed for poor land sales

Rick Wagner • Dec 4, 2009 at 12:00 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Sullivan County’s combined economic development effort has exceeded two of its four basic goals for 2009. However, on a more detailed scorecard, the NETWORKS – Sullivan Partnership fell far short of its goal on the sale of land, which NETWORKS CEO Richard Venable attributed to the recession. For the calendar year through Thursday, Venable reported to the regular NETWORKS board that job creation for new businesses and industries was 175 compared to a goal of 165 and last year’s year-to-date number of 148. However, the group fell far short of its $10 million capital investment goal for new businesses and industries, which came in at $500,000 compared to last year’s year-to-date amount of $41 million. As for existing businesses and industries, the NETWORKS Scorecard showed 345 new jobs and $47.9 million in capital investment compared to goals of 440 and $28 million, respectively, and year-to-date numbers from 2008 of 238 and $28.7 million. Venable said recent additions to the new jobs include about 80 of the 200 jobs Touchstone Wireless in Bristol plans to add and about 120 of 200 jobs Exide in Bristol plans to add. That made a total of 520 new jobs and $48.4 million in capital compared to goals of 605 and $38 million and figures of 386 and $69.7 million year-to-date last year. NETWORKS also listed 61 active projects, with those in the “likely” and “committed” status representing more than 1,038 new jobs and more than $243.2 million in new investment. Venable said the number is down from this time last year, but he said some among those prospects would be home runs for NETWORKS. On the more detailed Performance Scorecard, started in 2009, NETWORKS as of Dec. 2 had achieved 92.05 percent of goals but only 64.92 percent when those goals were weighted. Among the lowest numbers were land sales of 0.8 acre and $19,600 compared to a goal of 15 acres and $700,000. Other categories were in the high 70 percent or more in actual achievement except for capital investment by new business at 5 percent, new businesses located and existing business expansion at 43.75 percent, and qualified existing business prospects at 37.5 percent. Of 64 prospects for the year, Venable said 26 were generated by NETWORKS, 14 came from Tennessee, six came from the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Regional Industrial Development Association, 12 came from consultants or real estate agents, and six came from the Regional Alliance for Economic Development of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. In a year-end report, Venable said being a Three-Star community in economic development saved $180,000 in matching dollars for 2009, and NETWORKS reached Level II of the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence. NETWORKS also received a LinkTenn award for its Web site, http://networkstn.com . Reclaimed Resources plans a $157 million investment in the old American Phoenix plant, the 600,000-square-foot former home of the Raytheon plant on 97 acres in Bristol, to convert municipal garbage and sewer sludge into ethanol and butanol, with methane and other byproducts to boot. Leclerc Foods in the Kingsport Business Park near . Tri-Cities Regional Airport doubled in size to 175,000 square feet, part of a $10.5 million investment, Venable said.

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