Richard Venable. Times-News file photo.
BLOUNTVILLE - NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership President and CEO Richard Venable will remain at the helm of the countywide economic development organization until the end of the year. At that point, Venable will assume an advisory role to NETWORKS, while the organization undertakes a search for a successor.
"Our board has been concerned for some time about having a succession plan in place," Venable said. "This is a logical, timely plan that fits my needs and those of NETWORKS for an orderly transition and fills my desire for NETWORKS to continue its important work uninterrupted."
Formed in 2004, NETWORKS is a county-wide economic development organization that represents Kingsport, Bristol, Bluff City and Sullivan County. Since its creation, the organization has assisted new and existing business with creating several thousand direct and indirect jobs, in addition to acquiring and managing over $8 million of industrial development property.
Venable, who has lead the organization for more than six years, said with the changing economic environment and evolving, local political climate, now is the time for the organization to review its direction. Venable said he has recommended a "top to bottom" review of NETWORKS’ entire structure, including its bylaws and charter.
"We’ve made very few bylaw changes over the last nine years. When we set (NETWORKS) up it was with a 24-member board, which is a bit unwielding and at times unable to involve all board members," Venable said. "At the time, we needed community support. Having finished nearly 9 years, six under my term, I think we’ve built community support.
"Now, we’re at right time and place. The world has changed since 2004 and we need to change with it."