KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Chamber highlighted its year at the State of Your Kingsport Chamber Holiday Breakfast on Friday.

Due to concerns surrounding COVID-19 and for the safety and well-being of all parties, the event was held virtually with more than 150 Kingsport Chamber members, business and civic leaders attending via Zoom or Facebook Live.

The event showcased some of the Kingsport Chamber’s many achievements from 2020 and previewed plans for 2021, with great emphasis placed on the organization’s actions and initiatives taken to support business and the community during a most challenging year.

Outgoing Kingsport Chamber Chair Eric Deaton, executive vice president and chief operating officer with Ballad Health, showcased some of the organization’s numerous accomplishments from the past year, including the many ways the organization helped businesses deal with challenges from the pandemic. Incoming Kingsport Chamber Chair Brian Miller, Utilities Division director with Eastman, previewed the organization’s plans and goals for 2021.

“When I took the Kingsport Chamber chair’s gavel from Lori Arnold earlier this year, I knew I was in for an unforgettable and extraordinary ride as chair of this great organization,” Deaton said. “Little did I know — or any of us know — what type of unprecedented, unbelievable, frightening, sad, crazy and, indeed, wild excursion that ride would turn out to be. But, as it has always done in its stellar 73-year history, your Kingsport Chamber heeded the call and has helped to lead the way in supporting our business members and this community during this horrible pandemic. And, despite the many obstacles and challenges associated with this year, the state of your Kingsport Chamber is still strong.”

“It truly is my honor to be the 2021 chair of your Kingsport Chamber,” Miller said. “When I walk into the Eastman boardroom at the Chamber, I am humbled by the pictures of incredible leaders who line the wall … great devoted servants of Kingsport’s yesteryear who dedicated their time, talents and lives to build a better Kingsport. We truly honor and celebrate their legacies by what we do today for our children’s future.”

Deaton highlighted the following accomplishments and actions taken by the Kingsport Chamber, including: contacted all members to help, support and promote their businesses and shared valuable news, information and resources with them; completed another successful financial audit; Visit Kingsport celebrated the opening of The Miracle Field; Fun Fest reached 40,000 fans through its virtual festival; Keep Kingsport Beautiful celebrated its 40th year; Workforce Development/Education partnered with KOSBE to host the first Kids Business Expo; Government Relations reviewed more than 1,500 pieces of legislation that make an impact on business; Leadership Kingsport graduated 32 new community trustees; KOSBE worked with 285 distinct clients and supported 62 businesses that are receiving services from independent contractors associated with its new COVID-19 Enriched Technical Assistance Program (ETA) program; Move to Kingsport welcomed more than 414 families from 37 states and Puerto Rico to the Model City since the start of the pandemic; Healthy Kingsport acquired sponsorships for 57 water refill stations for schools and distributed more than 20,000 reusable water bottles within Kingsport City and Sullivan County school systems; and the Downtown Kingsport Association worked with downtown merchants to offer help and marketing support during the pandemic.

“As you can easily see … your Kingsport Chamber, its incredible team and all of its outstanding programs continue to work hard every day for you our members … and even all of my presentation didn’t cover everything your Kingsport Chamber is doing as the champion of business,” Deaton added. “Even in the midst of what has turned out to be an unprecedented pandemic and its devastating impact on the lives of our fellow citizens and its horrendous effects on our businesses and economy, your Kingsport Chamber has gone above and beyond to help, support and be here for you — our members and all businesses. So, thanks to Kingsport Chamber President and CEO Miles Burdine and his outstanding team for what they do every day for our businesses and our community.”

For the coming year, Miller said, the Kingsport Chamber would continue in its legacy of being the champion of business. Some plans and initiatives for 2021 include: contacting members and offering helpful information and resources to support their businesses; promoting “Be Loyal — Buy Local” campaigns; supporting small business success through KOSBE; promoting Kingsport as the destination of choice for the outdoor enthusiast, sports tournaments, conferences, conventions, reunions and the leisure traveler; managing environmental stewardship efforts through Keep Kingsport Beautiful; celebrating the 40th Fun Fest; protecting business interests by lobbying local, state and federal leaders; endeavoring to support education efforts on all levels; developing the workforce; recruiting and supporting young professionals; creating leaders — both in the elementary schools and in business — who become vital trustees of the community’s future; recruiting and welcoming new families to the community thanks to Move to Kingsport’s national marketing initiatives, promoting healthy living — both at home and in the workplace; marketing downtown Kingsport; and hopefully hosting numerous in-person events; among other goals.

“I can truly say that, even though we are in a most difficult time for our community and world, our future looks promising indeed,” Miller commented. “It’s been a tough, draining and stressful year on all levels. We know many are frightened and sad and worried about what tomorrow will bring. But please know, we are in this together. … We are here for you … and, as Kingsport has done in its 100-year plus history, we will come through this challenge together and be stronger for it.”

“Kingsport has been blessed by its leaders of the past, leaders who embodied and embraced that unidentifiable Kingsport spirit … a spirit of family, friends and neighbors coming together to love and support one another and to lift each other up into a brighter tomorrow, and I know we will continue that tradition.”

The Kingsport Chamber will continue to celebrate Kingsport at its 74th Annual Dinner.

“Kingsport’s Social Event of the Year,” which was originally slated for Feb. 5, 2021, has been rescheduled for April 2, 2021, at 6 p.m. at the MeadowView Marriott. Conference Resort & Convention Center.

Tickets will go on sale in March.

ABOUT THE KINGSPORT CHAMBER

The Kingsport Chamber is composed of two non-profit organizations: the Kingsport Chamber Foundation (501©(3)) and Kingsport Chamber of Commerce (501©(6)).

The Kingsport Chamber Foundation manages, promotes, supports and assists a number of charitable, educational, environmental, leadership, quality of life and wellness programs that have a tremendous impact on the Kingsport community.

Programs of the Kingsport Chamber Foundation include: Communications & Development; Downtown Concert Series; Downtown Kingsport Association; Education & Workforce Development; Fun Fest; Healthy Kingsport; Keep Kingsport Beautiful; Kingsport Leadership Programs (Leadership Kingsport, PEAK Young Professionals and S.H.O.U.T.!® Youth Leadership); Kingsport Office of Small Business Development & Entrepreneurship (KOSBE); Move to Kingsport; Santa Train; Tennessee/Virginia Scholars; and Visit Kingsport.

The Kingsport Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to utilize resources and focus efforts on enhancing a strong and viable business environment for the Kingsport area.

Programs of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce include: Communications & Development; Government Relations; and Membership. The Kingsport Chamber of Commerce has nearly 1,000 members.

For more information on the Kingsport Chamber, go to KingsportChamber.org or call (423) 392-8800. We’re social too; follow us on our Facebook page, Your Kingsport Chamber, our Twitter account, @kptchamber, on Instagram or our YouTube channel.