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The NETWORKS- Sullivan Partnership 2016 Annual Report is now available!  It can be viewed below or accessed directly here.  Hard copies of the report are available at the NETWORKS office.


NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership Listed Among Expansion Solutions Top 5 for Aerospace Sector


BLOUNTVILLE, TN – NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership, the economic development organization serving Bluff City, Bristol, Kingsport, and Sullivan County as well as marketing and recruiting for Phipps Bend Industrial Park in Hawkins County, Tennessee, has been recognized as one of the most desirable destinations for aerospace and aviation companies to consider when looking for a new location by a national site selection magazine.

Expansion Solutions magazine, based in Hoover, Alabama, announced its 10th annual “Top Five” Awards of Excellence earlier this month. These awards recognize economic development organizations which have shown exceptional progress and potential in the area of development across seven specific categories: Advanced Manufacturing, Aviation/Aerospace, Food Production & Processing, Inland Ports, Logistics, Ports, and Warehouse/Distribution.

“This type of third-party validation can be a significant boost to our marketing and recruitment efforts, because it offers an independent opinion in support of what we are out there telling consultants and companies,” said Clay Walker, NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership CEO. “Aerospace is one of our top targets and is a very hot, growing sector. It is also a highly desirable and competitive sector, so anything like this that can give you exposure and credibility is a welcome arrow in our quiver.”

 The Top Five Awards of Excellence recognize economic development organizations that have shown exceptional progress in development, according to a press release from the magazine. The locations were chosen because of the support system offered to businesses, as well as recent activity and potential growth that can be created in each area. Strategic locations, pro-business climates, investments made in improving infrastructure and the availability of buildings and sites were among the top deciding factors in choosing these locations.

“It’s kind of an obvious thing that Aerospace Park at Tri-Cities Airport is our crown jewel differentiating advantage that we use in marketing to aerospace companies,” Walker said. “But our business case for this sector goes well beyond just an incredible site. The aviation program at Northeast State Community College, the recent growth at companies such as Bell Helicopter, Wysong Helicopters, DEC Technologies, and Aviation Accessories, plus Eastman’s aviation division, all help to generate interest from similar companies.”

Aerospace Park is a 166-acre park, with a 21-acre tract that is a Select Tennessee certified site, that has several points of access to Tri-Cities Airport’s 8,000-foot runway. Walker touted the airport’s executive director, Patrick Wilson, and director of trade and business development, Mark Canty, as well as the involvement of Richard Blevins, who heads Northeast State’s aviation program, as integral players in the region’s future in growing this sector.

NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership joins these partners as attendees and exhibitors at various trade shows. It also markets to site selection consultants who are known to work aerospace and aviation projects and seeks editorial content and advertises in aviation magazines and site selection magazines’ aerospace/aviation-focused issues.

“We have some great partners and a tremendous product,” Walker said. “Now it’s just a matter to continuing to work this sector and tell our story to the right people. We’re making progress and I am optimistic we are going to see this sector enjoy a great deal of growth in the upcoming years.”

Patrick Wilson, Executive Director of Tri-Cities Airport, was pleased to hear of the recognition and praised the partnership between Bell Helicopter and Northeast State Community College, as it benefits the aerospace industry cluster for the entire region.

"The Tri-Cities Region has long been home to a vibrant and successful aerospace industry cluster, said Wilson.  “The flagship of that cluster, Bell Helicopter, employs over 500 maintenance technicians at their Piney Flats location in Sullivan County. In an effort to maintain a continuous supply of skilled employees, Bell has recently assumed an advisory role in Northeast State Community College's new Aviation Maintenance Technology program"

Mark Canty, who markets Aerospace Park and works closely with NETWORKS, stated that having runway access on a property, like Aerospace Park does, is a unique and desirable quality.

"Aerospace Park is the premier destination in the southeastern United States for aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO), passenger to freighter (PTF) conversions, manufacturing, completions, or any other activity requiring direct airfield access at a world-class commercial service airport," said Canty.

To learn more about NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership, go to networkstn.com.

To learn more about Aerospace Park, go to triaerospacepark.com.

To learn more about Northeast State Community College, go to northeaststate.edu.

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NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd and Leclerc Foods officials announced today that the food producer will establish its U.S. headquarters in Kingsport and expand production operations.


Leclerc Foods is investing approximately $49 million to establish a second facility in Kingsport and create 105 new jobs. The facility will include a new manufacturing line for granola bars, warehousing and distribution space as well as Leclerc Foods’ U.S. headquarters operations.


“Leclerc Foods’ decision to bring its U.S. headquarters to Kingsport is a prime example of our economic development efforts hitting on all cylinders,” Haslam said.  “Since first establishing a new manufacturing plant in Kingsport eight years ago, Leclerc Foods has expanded considerably. Now, Leclerc Foods is doubling its Kingsport workforce and adding high quality office jobs that will have an even bigger impact on Sullivan County. I’d like to thank Leclerc Foods for creating more valuable jobs in Kingsport and bringing us closer toward our goal of making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”


“Companies in the food and beverage industry have invested more than $2 billion in Tennessee during the past six years, creating more than 6,500 jobs,” Boyd said. “Leclerc Foods has been an important part of this thriving sector, growing to employ around 100 Tennesseans. More and more international companies like Leclerc Foods want to do business in Tennessee because our skilled workforce and favorable business environment offer them tremendous growth opportunities. I’m excited for Leclerc Foods’ expansion in Sullivan County, which will produce considerable benefits for Kingsport residents and their families.”


Founded in 1905, Leclerc Foods is a leader in the cookie, snack bar and cracker industry. The Canadian food manufacturer employs more than 650 people in six facilities and distributes its products to roughly 20 different countries. Leclerc Foods’ expansion in Kingsport is driven by increased market demand in the U.S.


“We have chosen to operate a second plant in Kingsport because this acquisition fits our business vision and corporate development strategy. This plant will manufacture certified gluten-free products exclusively. It will allow us to position ourselves near our U.S. clients and meet their specifics needs,” said Jean-Sébastien Leclerc, vice president of co-manufacturing and manufacturing infrastructure at Leclerc Foods. 


Leclerc Foods currently employs around 100 Tennesseans in its existing Kingsport plant, which produces crackers and cookies. Leclerc Foods will continue operations at its first Kingsport facility, which opened in 2008 and has undergone two prior expansions.


As part of the newest expansion, Leclerc Foods plans to renovate and upgrade an existing building. The work to rehab the facility will begin by the end of 2016. Leclerc Foods anticipates the renovations will be completed in by mid-2017. 


Local officials applauded Leclerc Foods for its expansion in Kingsport. 


“It is a great honor to have Leclerc Foods choose Kingsport and the state of Tennessee as the location of its U.S. headquarters and second operations facility. This investment by Leclerc Foods shows confidence that it can find a great location, operate in a pro-business environment and hire a workforce which can meet the demands of its customers by locating this facility here in Kingsport and Sullivan County,” Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said. “We hope to see Leclerc Foods continue to grow here, and we are so thankful it chose to invest in our community and our state once again.”


“Leclerc Foods’ decision to locate its U.S. headquarters and a second plant in Kingsport reinforces our position that we are a vibrant city that offers an outstanding workforce to support more than 100 new jobs as well as a very high quality of life to attract and retain professional talent,” Kingsport Mayor John Clark said. “These corporate location decisions continue to support our desire to be where Tennessee begins its business day. We look forward to working with Leclerc Foods as it continues to thrive in Northeast Tennessee and across the globe.”


“I am thrilled that Leclerc Foods has decided to double down in Sullivan County. When an existing company chooses you for a second time after a competitive recruiting process, it speaks volumes about our workforce and pro-business culture,” Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable said. “This was a great team win with NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership, the City of Kingsport, Sullivan County, and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development all stepping up to land a project that was on a fast-track pace. I wish Leclerc Foods continued success as it produces another line of great products and locates its U.S. headquarters in Northeast Tennessee.” 


Kingsport and Sullivan County are represented by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R – Blountville), Sen. Jon Lundberg (R – Bristol), Rep. Timothy Hill (R – Blountville), Rep. Bud Hulsey (R – Kingsport) and Rep. John Crawford (R – Kingsport) in the Tennessee General Assembly.  


About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies that help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. To grow and strengthen Team Tennessee, the department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. Tennessee is the only three-time winner of “State of the Year” for economic development by Business Facilities magazine. Find us on the web: TNECD.com. Follow us on Twitter: @TNECD. Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/TNECD.




Walk-in cooler, freezer and environmental chamber manufacturer to create 64 new jobs

NASHVILLE — Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd along with KPS Global LLC officials announced today the company will expand in Piney Flats. The walk-in cooler, freezer and environmental chamber manufacturer will invest $1.5 million and create 64 new jobs in Sullivan County.

“Over 344,000 Tennesseans work in manufacturing and that number will continue to rise exponentially with the help of companies like KPS Global choosing to grow in our state,” Boyd said. “I want to thank KPS Global for expanding in Sullivan County and for creating more than 60 new jobs for our Team Tennessee workforce.”

KPS Global will add 37,000 square feet to its current facility in Sullivan County. In addition, KPS Global will locate a portion of its operations to a second building in the same industrial park to increase both the manufacturing and warehousing areas. Construction is expected to be completed by early 2017.

“With this expansion, KPS Global has also signed a new lease on the facility and is committed to growing the business and volume of work being performed in the newly expanded facility,” Trey Cown, KPS Global vice president of operations, said. “KPS Global LLC has added many new positions over the past year and will look to continue to add jobs with the anticipated growth.”

“This is a huge vote of confidence in the Piney Flats team and Tri-Cities communities,” KPS Global Plant Manager Rick Newberry added.

KPS Global, which has been located in Sullivan County since 1996, is a leader in the manufacturing and installation of walk-in cooler products and environmental chambers. The company serves the supermarket, convenience store, scientific and industrial markets.

“KPS Global has been a preferred employer for some time in Sullivan County, so it is gratifying to have them reinvest in our community and state, and it speaks to our position as a business destination,” Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said. “Nothing makes a stronger statement to other companies that might be considering a move to our state than our existing companies thriving here.”

“KPS Global had some other compelling options in the Southeast and East Coast to make this move, not to mention buildings and sites in Northeast Tennessee, but because of the productivity of its Piney Flats workforce, its leadership made the decision to expand the current facility and that speaks volumes,” Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable said. “I’d like to commend NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership, particularly Brian Ritz, for working with KPS leadership throughout a very competitive process to secure this expansion and enable KPS Global to continue to benefit from the outstanding workforce and grow here in Sullivan County.”

“TVA, Bristol Tennessee Essential Services and Johnson City Power Board congratulate KPS Global on its decision to expand in Sullivan County,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “Helping to create new job opportunities is fundamental to TVA’s mission of service. We are pleased to partner with NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership, Sullivan County, and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to help further that mission.”

Piney Flats and Sullivan County are represented by Sen. Jon Lundberg (R – Bristol), Rep. Timothy Hill (R – Blountville), Rep. Bud Hulsey (R – Kingsport) and Rep. John Crawford (R – Kingsport) in the Tennessee General Assembly.



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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!


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