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New regional collaboration launched in Northeast TN

As if today’s feature article about the new collaboration between Ballad Health and East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Research Corporation was not enough big news from the Northeast Tennessee region, the top leaders at those two enterprises joined forces with several others last week to also announce the launch of a new regional economic development initiative, initially named the NETNHub.

As described in this news release, the new organization will support and enhance existing and new economic development across the eight counties of Northeast Tennessee. Its vision is to elevate the region’s profile to both national and international companies to locate in those counties, as well as to attract, retain and support talent.

Serving as Chair of the new entity is Jerry Caldwell (pictured right), President of Bristol Motor Speedway, with ETSU President Brian Noland serving as Vice Chair and Will Barrett, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bank of Tennessee, serving as Treasurer. Other founding Executive Board members are Mark Costa, Board Chair and CEO at Eastman Chemical Company, and Alan Levine, Chairman and CEO of Ballad Health.

NETNHub’s goals include:

  • Developing a comprehensive regional strategy supported by a robust project portfolio and marketing plan;
  • Coordinating funding requests and grant applications to garner additional resources for major projects across the region;
  • Accelerating investments for regional economic development to enhance the quality of life for residents;
  • Attracting business and industry to the area; and
  • Establishing a regional scorecard to outline key milestones and measure progress.

In the coming weeks, the Executive Board will appoint a CEO and other key leadership positions that will serve as the Hub’s primary operations team. The Executive Board is also establishing an Advisory Board to assist with regional strategy development, tactical execution, and committee formation. The Advisory Board and supporting committees will play a critical role in providing functional expertise and ensuring the Hub’s strategy and actions are reflective of all eight counties, various industries, and diverse voices.

“The Hub represents the culmination of many conversations on regionalism over the last several years and the belief of many different people that we are better together,” Barrett said. “More importantly, it signals a new approach to collaboratively redefine what economic development can be for our region and how we can uncover a greater level of prosperity for everyone that calls Northeast Tennessee and Appalachian Highlands home.”

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