• Kingsport Chamber News Release - Kingsport Chamber Celebrates Outstanding Year

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    December 01, 2017
    Friday, December 1, 2017                                                                                         
    For Immediate Release                                                                                              
    Bob Feagins                                                         
    Executive Director of Communications & Development
    Kingsport Chamber
    Office: (423) 392-8815
    Kingsport Chamber celebrates city’s centennial year with many noted successes and plans ahead for an exciting 2018
    NOTE:  Attached please find Stephen LaHair photo, Bob Feathers photo, Kingsport Chamber logo and State of Your Kingsport Chamber Holiday Breakfast logo.
    KINGSPORT, Tenn. – The Kingsport Chamber today celebrated an outstanding year marked by a number of highlights and successes at its State of Your Kingsport Chamber Holiday Breakfast at the MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center.
    More than 400 Kingsport Chamber members and business and civic leaders attended the event and heard about their Kingsport Chamber’s many achievements from 2017 and learned of the organization’s plans for what promises to be an exciting 2018.
    The event was sponsored by Alpha Natural Resources; Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union; Appalachian Power; AtWork Personnel Services; BAE Systems; Bank of Tennessee; Benchmark Home Loans; Chef’s Pizzeria; Citizens Bank; Cooper Standard; Creekside Behavioral Health; East Coast Wings & Grill; Eastman; Eastman Credit Union; East Tennessee State University; Elmcroft Senior Living of Kingsport; First Tennessee Bank; Food City; GRC Construction Services/CainRashWest Architects; Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Homes; Holston Valley Medical Center; Honda Kingsport; Indian Path Medical Center; J.A. Street & Associates; Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union; News Channel 11/ABC Tri-Cities; New Peoples Bank; Phil’s Dream Pit; Rodefer Moss & Company; Santa Fe Mexican Grill; Spectrum Enterprise; Tele-Optics; The Regional Eye Center; and WorkSpace Interiors.
    Outgoing Kingsport Chamber chair Stephen LaHair, co-owner of Chef’s Pizzeria and KAOS Investments, showcased a great 2017 for the Kingsport Chamber and incoming Kingsport Chamber chair Bob Feathers, president of WorkSpace Interiors and owner of East Coast Wings & Grill, previewed the organization’s plans and goals for 2018.
    “2017 was a year for the ages for our community,” LaHair said.  “We were proud and honored for the Kingsport Chamber to promote our city’s centennial in many of our programs and events throughout the year.  This city continues to grow and the Kingsport Chamber continues to be a huge part of this community’s success.”
    “Excellence and execution…that’s what this great organization has always been about and it’s what it will continue to do next year and for years to come,” Feathers commented.  “The Kingsport Chamber and its many vital programs play such a significant and impactful role in our city’s success and I know they will continue to make their mark in 2018.”
    For the past year, LaHair noted more than 30 businesses celebrated ribbon cuttings or groundbreakings in Kingsport, Fun Fest marked its 37th festival, Visit Kingsport attracted more than 44,000 visitors for a $38 million impact on the local economy, Keep Kingsport Beautiful received another award of excellence, Move to Kingsport made a $34 million impact on the economy, 400 local high school students graduated as Tennessee/Virginia Scholars, STREAMWORKS was created to promote the importance of science and technology to students, Government Relations hosted multiple gubernatorial candidates, Leadership Kingsport created a Selfie Trail, KOSBE provided counseling and training to more than 200 individual clients and assisted in the capital formation of nearly $5 million, and Healthy Kingsport helped Kingsport become the first city in the nation to achieve more than one million miles of documented physical activity for a year, among many other events and highlights.
    For 2018, Feathers said the Kingsport Chamber would continue to improve upon these many successes, looked forward to celebrating many new grand openings this year, would promote the city’s efforts in accomplishing the important OneKingsport goals, would continue to promote and facilitate in the city’s efforts to enhance outdoor attractions and amenities, would help in Healthy Kingsport’s goal to make Kingsport achieve two million miles in physical activity for the year, looked forward to helping Visit Kingsport host the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, would continue to support STREAMWORKS efforts to promote math and science to all students, and would continue to support the new Ballad Health and promote Aerospace Park, among other goals and events planned.
    Some of the Kingsport Chamber’s numerous accomplishments from 2017 included:
    The Kingsport Chamber’s Membership program attracted more than 60 new members and topped $400,000 in membership revenue. 
    The Kingsport Chamber also hosted more than 30 ribbon cutting and groundbreakings during the year, including Advance Financial 24/7; Asbury Place Kingsport; Associated Orthopaedics of Kingsport; Bank of Tennessee; Berry’s Pharmacy; Blue Ridge Properties; Burkes Outlet; Creekside Behavioral Health; David M. Ellis, CPA; Dominion Senior Living of Bristol; Honda Kingsport; Horizon Credit Union; Humana; JDog Junk Removal & Hauling; Kingsport Public Library; Los Amigos; Mama’s House Buffet; Meade Tractor; Mycroft Signs; News Channel 11/ABC Tri-Cities; NCG Cinema; OneSouth Financial Group; Overlook at Indian Trail; Performance Medicine; Port City Baptist Church; Santa Fe Mexican Restaurant; Sleep Outfitters; Sync.Space; The 101; The Blake; Town Park Lofts; and VIDA Hot Yoga.
    Your Kingsport Chamber’s award-winning television program, Kingsport ChamberZone, celebrated the end to its remarkable 14-year run.  Produced by Spectrum Reach and co-hosted by the Kingsport Chamber’s Bob Feagins and Eastman’s Laura Woods, the CZ interviewed more than 1,500 guests and aired 322 episodes that highlighted your Kingsport Chamber’s programs and events and dozens of organizations, projects and developments in the Kingsport community.
    Visit Kingsport
    Visit Kingsport supported 35 meetings and conventions with an estimated economic impact of $9 million
    Visit Kingsport also hosted, supported or operated 29 sports events with an estimated economic impact of $28.6 million.  Visit Kingsport donated more than $24,000 in tournament proceeds to the athletic programs of the Kingsport City Schools that hosted the events. 
    Visit Kingsport also hosted over 800 guests for the inaugural Spring WING Fling.
    Visit Kingsport’s newest ambassador, Porter, and his trusty sidekick, King, launched a new marketing campaign –Visit Kingsport: We’ve got stuff. 
    In addition, Visit Kingsport partnered with the city of Kingsport to launch region’s first Selfie Trail #CaptureKingsport, which was created from a Leadership Kingsport Class of 2017 community impact project.
    In total, the work of Visit Kingsport brought more than 44,000 visitors to Kingsport generated nearly $38 million for the city’s economy.
    Fun Fest
    Fun Fest celebrated its thirty-seventh year with more than 120,000 attendees from 26 states enjoying 130 events and activities, most of which were free of charge. 
    The popular summer festival witnessed a 42 percent increase in gross store sales and a 53 percent increase in the Sunset Concert Series attendance. 
    Fun Fest’s total economic impact on Kingsport exceeded $6 million.
    Keep Kingsport Beautiful
    The Kingsport Chamber’s nationally-recognized Keep Kingsport Beautiful program received the 2017 Award of Excellence from the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Keep Tennessee Beautiful. 
    Keep Kingsport Beautiful also hosted Clean Sweep Kingsport, an event that witnessed more than 250 volunteers contributing nearly 700 volunteer hours valued at more than $16,000.  More than 31 tons of trash, debris and garbage were collected, and two illegal dump sites were cleaned up. 
    And the program’s Conservation Camp reached more than 725 fourth grade students from Kingsport, Bristol and Sullivan County schools. 
    For every dollar contributed to KKB through sponsorships, city funding, contributions, fundraising and in-kind donations, KKB returns more than $90 worth of benefits back to the community. 
    In total, Keep Kingsport Beautiful and its 400 volunteers contributed $305,000 worth of volunteer hours and returned more than $457,182 in total value back to the Kingsport community.
    Move to Kingsport 
    The Move to Kingsport program welcomed 599 new family households in 2017, making a $34.4 million economic impact on the community.  Each newcomer generates $25,000 in buying power.
    The top states from which individuals relocated to Kingsport were Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, New York and Georgia. 
    Workforce Development/Education
    The Kingsport Chamber’s Workforce Development/Education program unites business and education to better prepare students for college and the workforce.  This program has become the model for a number of cities and communities across the state and in the Southeast U.S.
    The program hosted regional event focused on Early Childhood education featuring Keynote Speaker First Lady Crissy Haslam and Education Commissioner Dr. Candice McQueen among other local education leaders. 
    The program graduated approximately 400 Tennessee/Virginia Scholars from Kingsport, Sullivan County, Hawkins County and Scott County, Va., schools.
    The program recruited hundreds of mentors for the sullivanAchieves mentoring program, partnered with Eastman and Junior Achievement to host the Eighth and Eleventh Grade Career Fairs and helped the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing with its Advanced Manufacturing Camps for rising eighth and ninth graders, among other efforts.
    In partnership with Eastman, the Kingsport Chamber launched STREAMWORKS, a non-profit organization committed to facilitating rigor and relevant extracurricular activities and organizations into our school systems and communities to help prepare k-12 students for a successful and meaningful career in the 21st Century Workforce. 
    Powered by Eastman in Education and working in collaboration with industry, communities, and education, STREAMWORKS enhances STEM based learning to ensure twenty-first century workforce demands are met.
    Why the need for this vital program?
    According to STREAMWORKS, millennials and beyond will make up to 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025.  More than 600,000 skilled jobs go unfilled and 83 percent companies reporting a moderate to severe shortage of skilled workers.  There is only one qualified skilled technician/engineer applicant for every two technical job vacancies in the United States. 
    Fifty percent of the American engineering workforce is comprised of the H-1B Visa, foreign nationals.  Seventy percent of K-12 students involved in hands on STEM activities (i.e. robotics teams) will pursue STEM related career immediately after graduation from a post-secondary system.
    Government Relations 
    The Kingsport Chamber’s Government Relations program works closely with elected officials on a local, state and national level to protect business interests.
    The Kingsport Chamber’s legislative affairs committee reviewed more than 1,000 pieces of legislation and took positions on nearly 40 bills that impacted business.  The committee carefully studies this proposed legislation and then shares its positions directly with elected officials on behalf of Kingsport Chamber members.
    The program also hosted 13 events, including ones with First Lady Haslam, Congressman Phil Roe, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally and the Northeast Tennessee delegation, Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Bivins, gubernatorial candidates, Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen as well as partnered with the Tennessee and U.S. Chambers of Commerce and other state and local elected officials.  The program has had one-on-one meetings with each candidate running for Governor. 
    Leadership Kingsport
    The Kingsport Chamber’s Leadership Kingsport program presented five Community Impact Projects, ideas and efforts that seek to sustain the economic vitality and enhance the quality of life for our City.  These included:  Riverfront Development, Non-Profit Organization Conference Feasibility Study, The Prospect Center at Mafair United Methodist Church, Art ‘n Play in Public Spaces and a Kingsport Selfie Trail, which became a reality in 2017 and is now a heavily visited community attraction with Visit Kingsport.
    In honor of Kingsport’s centennial celebration, the 26 class members donated 100 books each to Kingsport City Schools, Sullivan County Schools and Girls Inc. of Kingsport.
    The Kingsport Chamber’s S.H.O.U.T.!® Youth Leadership program graduated 37 sophomores and juniors from home schools and from Dobyns-Bennett, Sullivan South, Sullivan Central and Providence Academy high schools.
    And the program created Y.E.L.L.! (Youth Engaged in Leadership and Learning) Mayor’s Youth Council.  An inaugural council was selected from local high schools and homeschooled students.  The council works on volunteer projects, meets with Mayor John Clark to learn about the city and offer ideas and suggestions on ways to improve the community.
    The Kingsport Chamber’s small business program, Kingsport Office of Small Business Development & Entrepreneurship (KOSBE), provided counseling and training to more than 200 individual clients; assisted in capital formation of nearly $5 million; held 26 training events; supported 20 new business starts; and helped create 114 new jobs and retain 32 jobs
    According to a 2015-2016 study conducted by an independent consultant, on average, the counseling provided by small business development centers to both established and pre-venture clients generated $1.15 in tax revenues in one year for every $1 spent on the entire program. 
    In addition, every dollar expended on the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) operation was leveraged by approximately $4.24 in new capital raised from external sources.  Eighty-three percent of pre-venture clients had started a business.
    Healthy Kingsport
    Thanks to the leadership and efforts of Healthy Kingsport, Kingsport became the first city in the United States to log 1.6 million miles of physical activity in a year’s time
    This nationally-recognized program also hosted more than 1,610 participants (a 600-plus increase from the previous year) at its Walk for Wellness Expo and supported 31 organizations with multiple campuses in becoming tobacco free.  Healthy Kingsport also assisted 31 organizations in becoming Platinum Partners, which means they have taken a Live SugarFreed pledge and are a Certified Healthier Tennessee organization.
    To date, more than 273 Kingsport businesses and organizations are part of Healthy Kingsport’s Live SugarFreed effort.
    Santa Train and Santa’s Depot
    The Kingsport Chamber celebrated the seventy-fifth running of the historic Santa Train and created the inaugural Santa’s Depot, which was enjoyed by thousands of children.
    During the ceremony, the Kingsport Chamber also presented its most prestigious honor, the Lifetime Member Award, to longtime Kingsport business and community leaders Lynn Johnson and Dr. Brenda White Wright.
    They are the award’s thirty-first and thirty-second recipients respectively.
    Johnson is a retired Eastman executive and Wright is the owner of The Wright Approach, where she is a motivational speaker, storyteller and trainer.
    Citizens Bank President Bill Dudney, who is a Kingsport Chamber lifetime member and past Kingsport Chamber Board president, was presented with the Leadership Kingsport Distinguished Leadership Award for a lifetime of community leadership.
    “I continue to be amazed at all we accomplish and the impressive work of the Kingsport Chamber every year” said Miles Burdine, Kingsport Chamber president and CEO.  “The successes we highlighted this morning are only a small part of what we do for this great community of Kingsport.  We do all of this because of our incredible members, sponsors and volunteers and a superb staff who get up every morning to give their all for Kingsport.  I am most thankful to everyone who makes this community the great place we call home.”
    The Kingsport Chamber will continue to celebrate Kingsport at its 71st Annual Dinner.
    “Kingsport’s Social Event of the Year,” the Kingsport Chamber 71st Annual Dinner, is Friday, February 2, 2018, at 6 p.m. at the MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center. 
    Tickets will go on sale in January.
    The Kingsport Chamber is composed of two non-profit organizations:  the Kingsport Chamber Foundation (501(c)(3)) and Kingsport Chamber of Commerce (501(c)(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; Education & Workforce Development; Fun Fest; Healthy Kingsport; Keep Kingsport Beautiful; Kingsport Leadership Programs (Leadership Kingsport and S.H.O.U.T.!® Youth Leadership); Kingsport Office of Small Business Development & Entrepreneurship (KOSBE); Move to Kingsport; Santa Train; STREAMWORKS; 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, and on our Twitter account, @kptchamber.