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ECD Week Day 4


Although announcements of new company locations garner most of the headlines and fanfare, about 80% of new job growth comes from existing business and industry.  In order to more effectively serve our existing industry base, we have created the FIRST program.  The program’s name represents our prioritizing of our outstanding corporate citizens – putting existing business and industry first – and is an acronym of the value system on which the program is built:  Focus, Innovation, Results, Synergy, Together.


Our Focus is on our customers, the existing industries throughout Sullivan County.  These corporate leaders continue to determine how the program evolves.  Participating in FIRST means that you have our attention and full support.


Our economic development team offers years of experience and a track record of coming up with innovative and creative solutions to complicated issues facing companies in today’s challenging market.  We deal with challenges in partnership with our industries and continually work toward perfecting our business climate.


Our work is measured by how well we help our companies.  Obviously, the goal of most existing industry programs is to have successful retention and expansion projects.  However, our success is ultimately judged by the value our initiatives bring to our area businesses.


In bringing our companies together and establishing a support system, programs after which FIRST is modeled have proven records of remarkable success.  The mitigating factor in these successes is the sharing of information and experiences, which provides participants with solutions and knowledge well beyond their own.


Perhaps the most significant common denominator of the FIRST acronym; all of the stakeholders in this program – companies, economic development and chamber of commerce professionals, educators, and city leaders – are dependent upon each other.  The FIRST program brings these people together in an environment that fosters open, candid dialogue so that we can continue to make our community the best place to do business.

Let us be the first to work for you!

In order for us to honor our pledge of putting existing industries first, we need you to do one thing for us:  participate!  Please attend FIRST meetings whenever possible and pick up the phone or drop us an email to let us know how we can be of service to you.  The foundation of this program is that we are here to serve you, not the reverse, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us as we continue to prove that we are “Where Tennessee Begins Its Business Day!”


FIRST is a free program for existing industries in Sullivan County.  For more information, please contact Brian Ritz at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you represent a Hawkins County existing industry, please contact Rebecca Baker about the REAP program at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

ECD Week Day 2

We're kicking off day two of Economic Development week with discussion on possibly the hottest topic in economic development right now - workforce.  Why is workforce such a critical component of economic development?  When competing for projects that could lead to new jobs and added investment into a community, economic development organizations (EDOs) aren't just competing with the community next door, but internationally.  Having a skilled workforce helps a community remain competitive in a global marketplace, and having local access to workforce development programs gives communities a major advantage.


Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM)

The Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM) is the branded outreach of Northeast State Community College. Focused on advanced manufacturing training, the programs and services offered through the RCAM are designed to develop the 21st century workforce.  The RCAM offers programs for industry specific training, college credit, and even programs for K-12 students that offer exposure to different career opportunities in the manufacturing field.  The RCAM also offers apprenticeship training programs for Electrical Systems Technicians, Electromechanical Technicians, HVAC Technicians, Lubricators/Oilers, and Mechanical Systems Technicians.  Employers can work with the RCAM to customize apprenticeship programs based on the needs of employees.

University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (UTCIS)

The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (UTCIS) focuses on consulting, training, and connection.  Local Solutions Consultants assess company needs and provide only services that are value added.  Training courses taught by subject matter experts are provided on topics related to manufacturing and service-oriented businesses.  Connections are made between companies, communities, entrepreneurs, and appropriate resources.

Alliance for Business & Training (AB&T)

The Alliance for Business & Training, Inc (AB&T) is a community based not for profit corporation.  Its mission is to create and sustain a workforce development system which promotes Economic Development; meets employer needs and is responsive to changing labor market demands, community economic growth and participants' job skills.  Workforce development services facilitated through the AB&T include on-the-job training, incumbent worker training, and customized training opportunities.


ACT Certified Work Ready Communities Initiative

ACT's Certified Work Ready Communities (CWRC) initiative was created to make our country more competitive and close the skills gap.  The program starts at the grassroots level, by providing a community-based framework that links workforce development to education, aligns with the economic development needs of communities, regions, and states, and matches individuals to jobs based on skill level.  A major component of this program is the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC).  Current, transitioning, and emerging workforce can earn this portable, industry-recognized credential that clearly identifies an individual's WorkKey skills in reading for information, applied math, and locating information.

In the state of Tennessee, communities are encouraged to certify industrial sites through the Select Tennessee Certified Sites Program.  The reasoning behind this is to minimize risks and remove the guess work that comes with locating a new site for a potential facility relocation or expansion.  The CWRC initiative is a similar concept.  A company can confidently locate in our community knowing that there is a skilled workforce capable of meeting their needs.


How you can support workforce development in Sullivan County

Support the WCRC initiative.  It's easy, takes two minutes, and can be done by clicking here.  By choosing "recognize," you are not obligating your company to anything; it simply shows that your company sees the value in the program and supports it.  If you would like to use the NCRC in your hiring proccesses, please select "recommend."

Sullivan County has successfully attained 78% of its business support goal and 48% of its overall goals.



To learn more about workforce training, click here.  To learn more about Sullivan County's workforce profile, click here.  

Visit tomorrow to learn more about the role of the volunteer in economic development.

ECD Week Day 3

Two Words to Our Volunteer Team Members:  Thank You

As part of Economic Development Week, NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership would like to thank the many volunteers for their invaluable service to our communities and region.  One of the best aspects of an economic development career is that it enables you to work closely with community leadership.  We rely on this leadership more than you might know.

Our Board of Directors is the group with whom we work most closely.  Having a board with representation from the public sector along with various private business sectors gives us direction that takes many perspectives and considerations into account.  It gives us a holistic, scrutinizing strategic plan and scope of work.

We also work with the Sullivan County IDB, Bristol IDB, Kingsport EDB, and Hawkins County IDB.  The collective and individual relationships are of great value to us as economic developers and citizens.  Most importantly, they help ensure that well-thought-out, responsible decisions are made.

So, we say thank you to the men and women who help guide our efforts.  You receive no pay, very little thanks, and a whole heap of responsibility and demands on your time.  Please know that your participation is of great value and appreciated greatly.  Thank you for being such important members of our team!


Other Economic Development Week Posts - Who We Are & What We Do  •  Workforce

ECD Week Day 1


Today kicks off an exciting week for the NETWORKS team and other economic development professionals around the World – Economic Development Week! EDW was created by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in 2016 to increase awareness for local programs that assist in job creation, promote and advance career opportunities, and increase the quality of life. In the spirt of celebration, we will be sharing some information each day this week to better explain the ins and outs of the economic development profession.

Who We Are

NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership is the joint economic development agency for Sullivan County, Tennessee and its communities of Bluff City, Bristol, and Kingsport. Additionally, NETWORKS handles the marketing and recruitment activities for the Phipps Bend Industrial Park in Hawkins County, Tennessee. The staff here at NETWORKS work with many economic development partners from around the area, and are often referred to as our extended staff. Our extended staff includes representatives from the City of Bristol, the City of Kingsport, Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES), the Hawkins County Industrial Development Board, and the Tri-Cities Airport.  We also work closely with the Tennessee Department of Economic Development (TNECD) and the Tennessee Economic Partnership (TEP). 

What We Do

Our name - NETWORKS - represents everything we do and all that our region has to offer. Northeast Tennessee works for existing and new business and industry. Sullivan Partnership represents a a collaborative partnership among Sullivan County and its three primary communities. The NETWORKS team is equipped to assist companies in reaching strategic goals. NETWORKS offers existing and new business/industry programs for all companies, regardless of size or scope of business. Our team also assists companies with asset maintenance coordination, small business loans, consultant visits, contract negotiations and deal closings.

Meet Our Team

Clay Walker

Clay Walker, CEcD

NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership

  Mike Head Shot

Michael Parker

Executive Project Manager
NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership

Brian Ritz Headshot

Brian Ritz

Project Manager
NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership

  Dana Glenn headshot 1

Dana Glenn

Administrative & Marketing Coordinator
NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership

Tom Anderson 2

Tom Anderson

Director of Economic Development
City of Bristol

  april eads

April Eads, CEcD

Business Development Manager

corey shepherd headshot

Corey Shepherd

Business Development Specialist
City of Kingsport


Tully headshot 2014 718181

Lynn Tully, AICP

Development Services Director
City of Kingsport

rebecca baker headshot

Rebecca Baker

Executive Administrative Coordinator
Hawkins County IDB



Our Brand

The NETWORKS brand is "Where Tennessee Begins Its Business Day."  Along with being among the first in the state to see the sun rise each morning, Sullivan County is a community of innovation.  Milestone firsts in the state include:

          ⚫ First county to certify multiple sites under the Select Tennessee Program
          ⚫ First county to offer free community college tuition
          ⚫ First public utility to offer one gigabit broadband service (BTES)
          ⚫ First to be certified as a connected community as a county
          ⚫ First to create a comprehensive advanced manufacturing facility as a public/private partnership
          ⚫ The birthplace of country music


Learn More


Today's introduction was brief, but we'll be back each day this week to go into greater detail about different topics related to economic development, including workforce, incentives, and the role of volunteers and partner organizations.  In the meantime, you can learn more about NETWORKS and our region by perusing our website our by viewing our community video.  It's a 3:40 summary of some of the best things our region has to offer.


Our Community

Sullivan County, Tennessee is home to companies and attractions known around the world.  Browse our website to learn all the reasons you should join Eastman, Bell, Domtar, Teleperformance, Home Shopping Network, Bristol Motor Speedway, and many others by locating a facility in Sullivan County!


  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  10368 Wallace Alley St., Suite 1, Kingsport, TN 37663
PO Box 747, Blountville, TN 37617

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