Despite uncertain funding, Kingsport Chamber of Commerce advertising for Knetic position

Matthew Lane • Mar 24, 2013 at 5:39 AM

KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Chamber of Commerce has decided to go ahead and advertise for a new associate director of Knetic, even though the Board of Mayor and Aldermen has not decided how much funding, if any, the new position would receive.

Formed in 2005, Knetic is a social and community involvement group for young professionals and in the past has held fundraisers, clean-up events and social events within the city. In recent years, however, the organization has stagnated and participation among members has fallen off.

Earlier this month, members of Knetic and chamber officials came before the BMA with a proposal to integrate the club under the auspices of the chamber (specifically the Move to Kingsport office) and provide funding for a full-time director, marketing material and start-up costs.

Proponents of the move argue the change would help with the recruitment, attainment and networking of young professionals.

While the BMA appeared supportive of the move, it did balk at the estimated cost. The draft budget for the endeavor provided by the chamber calls for first-year funding of $73,800 with the coordinator’s salary in the $42,000 to $46,000 range.

The chamber posted a notice for the position last week, and Miles Burdine, president and CEO of the chamber, said they did not want to be too presumptuous about receiving the funding, but they believe the BMA is eager to make the position happen.

“We didn’t want to be presumptuous, but we didn’t want to be behind the 8-ball either, so we decided to go ahead and advertise the position,” Burdine said. “It’s with the understanding that if the BMA does not fund (the position) for any reason, the only thing we’ve wasted is our time.”

According to the listing, applicants need a knowledge of Kingsport and opportunities for young professionals in the region, have superior communication skills for diverse audiences and the ability to plan and execute events. Fundraising experience is desirable, while the ideal candidate will have a background in marketing, public relations, event planning and nonprofit management.

Thus far, the chamber has received nine resumes and a number of phone calls about the position.

Burdine said he is confident the BMA will fund the program.

“Typical of these types of programs ... the private sector probably will step forward, but I think it’s reasonable to expect the city to step forward initially,” Burdine said. “I think there’s a certain expectation for the program to prove itself before we solicit funding from other sponsors.”

The chamber has a number of programs under its wing, including Fun Fest, Keep Kingsport Beautiful, Move to Kingsport, KOSBE and Leadership Kingsport, which Burdine notes are almost exclusively or partially funded through the private sector.

Burdine said the position would not be filled until the BMA signed off on the budget. According to a city budget official, no money has been allocated in next year’s city budget for the Knetic position, but funding options are being explored.

Earlier this month, Mayor Dennis Phillips said he wholeheartedly supports the idea, but that the $73,800 amount “would not happen.”

Last week, Phillips said he has no problem with the chamber advertising the position.

“But we can’t commit anything until we approve the budget, and we’re at least two months away from that,” Phillips said.

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