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Old 03-06-2014, 09:00 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
28,477 posts, read 21,364,064 times
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He is absolutely correct that the area needs more amenities to enhance its quality of life. Talented, skilled employees have no desire where QoL is poor, as it is in the Tri-Cities. A poor quality of life is going to lead to fewer skilled and educated people moving here, fewer jobs created, and is part of a cycle of long term decline.

Eastman CEO says region needs more amenities to help attract new talent | Kingsport Times-News
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:08 AM
 
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It is a bit of a double edged sword.

Eastman appears to slide under the radar to some degree with regard to environmental compliance. In a more 'cultural' area that might not be the case. My observation is that people in the Tri Cities area understand the stench from their processes, the impact from coal (not Eastman) , and the incumbent damage that both make on the desire of 'high end' employees to live in such an area.

But, not all 'culture' and 'attractions' are things which can be bought, or built. The area has a fine symphony, tremendous theatre, okay shopping (except for groceries), wonderful transportation, good education both secondary and college, some ethnic diversity, tremendous medical facilities, decent sports venues (if not teams), and fine social organizations. These are the things which can be 'bought' and 'built'.

What the area also has is wonderful climate, four seasons, tremendous recreational venues in the form of mountains and lakes, beautiful forests, great hiking and camping, backcountry experiences, skiing, and all things fitness.

There is also has a mix of people who are broadly diversified and second to none in terms of their welcoming, sharing attitude.

I would not be so quick to play up what is not here, as much as I would be pushing to demonstrate to potential professionals what the area has to offer, and sell it hard. As one who spent a great deaf of his life living in Manhattan, and then commuting in and out of town to the tune of 60-90 minutes every day, each way, I can tell you that the 'attraction' of that lifestyle gets old quickly. Unless you are dragging down at least $100,000 you can barely afford to live in such an environment.

And Eastman would not want to operate in such an environment, trust me. If they think they have people watching them now, try moving to a more liberal area and see how difficult the citizenry can make your life.

Get out there and sell Eastman and the Tri Cities area, Mr. Costa. I recruited people from all over the world to come work for me. I sold my firm, and I sold the people with whom new recruits would have a chance to work. But I also sold the city, the area, and the culture. That is what it takes to bring the very best people to your company.

Ask Warren. He doesn't have any trouble brining the very best and brightest to Omaha. Is that town much different than the tri cities?
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Old 03-06-2014, 06:27 PM
 
Location: Old Town Alexandria
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Eastman would have no problem in New Jersey.

Plus the Universities there and cultural attractions are a plus. What's the attraction in Kingsport? The mall?.

Tri Cities is in a groaning decline. They can stave it off for another decade or so. Ask anyone running a business other than medical. You cannot build an area on declining retail and archaic brick and mortar malls.
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Old 03-06-2014, 09:50 PM
 
Location: Seattle
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The area just got too large, and hit a growth spurt in an unfortunate era of suburban development. I think the Tri-Cities over the next 25 years will undergo a right-sizing (Johnson City is already discussing deannexation) and focus more highly on quality of life, downtown redevelopment, etc. Will the economy shrink, yes, but I think the money being spent will be invested in the core of these cities.

Quality of life is already increasing. We can see that with the Tweetsie Trail, Founder's Park, new farmer's market, two new apartment buildings, and Tupelo Honey in Downtown JC. That's more quality development in downtown than has happened collectively in the past 30 years.
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Old 03-07-2014, 07:48 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Bear View Post
It is a bit of a double edged sword.

Eastman appears to slide under the radar to some degree with regard to environmental compliance. In a more 'cultural' area that might not be the case. My observation is that people in the Tri Cities area understand the stench from their processes, the impact from coal (not Eastman) , and the incumbent damage that both make on the desire of 'high end' employees to live in such an area.
I do think Eastman slides under the radar, but why should Eastman be allowed to slide and receive preferential treatment? They need to comply with the same laws and regulations as anyone else. I think the stench and respiratory issues are a drag on Kingsport and I'm not sure the city gets this.

Quote:
But, not all 'culture' and 'attractions' are things which can be bought, or built. The area has a fine symphony, tremendous theatre, okay shopping (except for groceries), wonderful transportation, good education both secondary and college, some ethnic diversity, tremendous medical facilities, decent sports venues (if not teams), and fine social organizations. These are the things which can be 'bought' and 'built'.

What the area also has is wonderful climate, four seasons, tremendous recreational venues in the form of mountains and lakes, beautiful forests, great hiking and camping, backcountry experiences, skiing, and all things fitness.
My opinion is that shopping in the area is poor except for the barest essentials. I always ended up going to Greenville, SC for clothes, shoes, etc. I agree about the groceries. There is very little in the way of public transit, little ethnic diversity (it's a white bread area by any stretch), sports (a few minor league baseball teams and only one major university don't count for a lot in my book), and little in the way of a social scene outside of church.

This really isn't a Tri-Cities specific problem, more of a small metro problem, but you are counting things that aren't there.

Quote:
There is also has a mix of people who are broadly diversified and second to none in terms of their welcoming, sharing attitude.
The Tri-Cities is not a diverse area, ethnically, religiously, politically, or by any other factor. "Welcoming" is subjective, but I've always found the people in NC and SC much friendlier than upper east TN. Hell, I've found people here around Boston nicer. I think being in a depressed area depresses people.

Quote:
I would not be so quick to play up what is not here, as much as I would be pushing to demonstrate to potential professionals what the area has to offer, and sell it hard. As one who spent a great deaf of his life living in Manhattan, and then commuting in and out of town to the tune of 60-90 minutes every day, each way, I can tell you that the 'attraction' of that lifestyle gets old quickly. Unless you are dragging down at least $100,000 you can barely afford to live in such an environment.

And Eastman would not want to operate in such an environment, trust me. If they think they have people watching them now, try moving to a more liberal area and see how difficult the citizenry can make your life.

Get out there and sell Eastman and the Tri Cities area, Mr. Costa. I recruited people from all over the world to come work for me. I sold my firm, and I sold the people with whom new recruits would have a chance to work. But I also sold the city, the area, and the culture. That is what it takes to bring the very best people to your company.

Ask Warren. He doesn't have any trouble brining the very best and brightest to Omaha. Is that town much different than the tri cities?
Outside of medical and education, the area has little in the way of a thriving professional scene. The area is older than average, and with being a small area anyway, it's difficult for young professionals to find like-minded people for activities, dating, etc. People are more wrapped up in family, work, or friends they've known all their lives rather than their professional life.

I don't think millions upon millions live in the northeast because they like the weather. Some just want to be in the major cities, but many are there because that's where the best jobs are. No one likes paying ungodly NE taxes, but typically the best jobs and schools, on average, are found in the Northeast.

You lived in Manhattan and had access to all its opportunities. It seems like you did fairly well professionally and moved here either late career or in retirement. What you need to consider is could you have the same lifestyle had you been a native Tri-Cities resident, living and working here, with the opportunities (or lack thereof) available locally?

We have posters on these TN boards from the northeast and other economically strong, populated, blue states who talk up the area, but moved here after already having a successful career. Their opinions just aren't that informed on the limitations of the local labor market because they've never experienced its low ceiling for themselves. These kinds of posts from a non-native who moved here near retirement and never had to experience the awful local job market frustrate me as a younger guy who had to move to make a normal wage (making $55k in Indiana of all places) when I had never made more than $12/hr for any length of time in the Tri-Cities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamofmonterey View Post
Eastman would have no problem in New Jersey.

Plus the Universities there and cultural attractions are a plus. What's the attraction in Kingsport? The mall?.

Tri Cities is in a groaning decline. They can stave it off for another decade or so. Ask anyone running a business other than medical. You cannot build an area on declining retail and archaic brick and mortar malls.
Eastman probably wouldn't get the "special treatment" that they get in Kingsport in NJ, NY, MA, etc. These states are generally stronger economically than the Tri-Cities and they would likely not be as reliant on Eastman as upper east TN is. They would have to comply with the laws of the location.

Other than the outdoors activities and mild climate, which don't even depend on the people or economy, there is little attraction to the Tri-Cities. Most of the jobs being created seem to be in leisure/hospitality, food service, and retail services, low-paying sectors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jabogitlu View Post
The area just got too large, and hit a growth spurt in an unfortunate era of suburban development. I think the Tri-Cities over the next 25 years will undergo a right-sizing (Johnson City is already discussing deannexation) and focus more highly on quality of life, downtown redevelopment, etc. Will the economy shrink, yes, but I think the money being spent will be invested in the core of these cities.

Quality of life is already increasing. We can see that with the Tweetsie Trail, Founder's Park, new farmer's market, two new apartment buildings, and Tupelo Honey in Downtown JC. That's more quality development in downtown than has happened collectively in the past 30 years.
The problem to me isn't necessarily that the area is too large - it's that there is no one speaking out for the area as a whole, each city and town seems completely out for itself.

I think Bristol and JC are on the right track with their downtowns, but this is going to be slow, incremental progress. These can be QoL projects, but again, they can develop the downtowns all they want, but it doesn't mean anything if most of the few jobs we create are low wage, sub $10/hr retail and food service jobs. People have to have money in their pockets to spend at these businesses.

I do think the area will shrink due to demographics short to medium term. I'm in my late 20s and most of the professionally minded people I grew up with left. While some would have left anyway, the economy has been the reason for many departures. As today's and next generation's young adults leave due to lack of opportunity and boomers die off, I think the area will have a labor shortage, but this is probably two decades away.
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Old 03-08-2014, 09:26 PM
 
Location: Old Town Alexandria
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Your post^ is excellent advice to anyone seeking a career. Tri Cities is not the place. Also jmo (this is an opinion forum after all) the retirement factor wears off.
I have spoken to many and written a piece about it, I could see for example how difficult it is for college grads to even survive in the Tri. I fail to see how a few new restaurants = a "better quality of life". It merely means they have a line of credit which will run out once the customer base isn't there. It's an artificial economy.

Chains in the JC area are still closing (Hallmark, Ashley Furniture, Chinese restaurants, K-Mart, even Lowe's in Jonesborough is missing budget and ready to shut down) and recycling. The area is in an economic dead zone.

It seems unsustainable.
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Old 03-09-2014, 06:23 AM
 
Location: Kingsport
184 posts, read 214,977 times
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Interesting discussion and many good points.
While I would be the last to argue that the Tri-Cities is a thriving area for young professionals there are some benchmarking items for any discussion.
1 – The 2013 preliminary annual private sector wage in the Johnson City MSA was $17.44 an hour. That’s about a dollar less than it was in 2012 and 2012, but 70 cents an hour higher than the 2008 average.
2 – The Kingsport-Bristol preliminary annual private sector wage was $17.34 an hour. It has slowly increased every year when benchmarked against the prerecession and recession averages.
3 – The private sector average is important because it makes up 86% of the jobs in Kingsport-Bristol and 77% of the jobs in Johnson City.
It’s a fact that the region is creating more less-desirable jobs than what many would like. But it is also producing good-paying jobs (just not as many and not as fast). I think the reason is there’s no employer who needs more of these employees.)
If you look at median and average family, incomes you can see those numbers took a hit during the recession. But, the number of high-end family income households also increased. But the comfortable middle-class declined. That’s a local and national situation.
The real GDP of both the Johnson City and Kingsport-Bristol MSA is increasing. The JC growth rate is higher than Kingsport-Bristol.
I think the Tri-Cities is evolving with the new economic norms. The days when folks with limited skills could mark a comfortable middle class living due to the area’s heavy mfg. are gone and won’t return. So far, no one has found anything that will replace that standard in numbers than anywhere match the local labor market.
There’s a lot of emphasis on retail and service because that’s what works in the largest total numbers. And, if you look at the local economy hard enough you’ll see, the higher-end is doing pretty good and the middle and lower incomes are moving down. I think that’s why you see more Pay Less Grocery and Dollar General food markets popping up. They’re undercutting Walmart and giving it fits because half of Walmart’s business is food.
It would help if all of the local counties and cities would look and act on economic development and job creation as a single unit, but as long as we have a system where sales tax are the primary city and county revenue source don’t expect much movement on that front.
For many, the status quo is comfortable and real growth means change.
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Old 03-09-2014, 09:31 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
28,477 posts, read 21,364,064 times
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I'd like to know if that's a mean or median wage. A senior manager at Eastman can drag up quite a few of the $10-$12/hr crowd and make that average higher, but the median would tell a more accurate story.

What you're referring to is a "fat tails" distribution where the extreme ends have increasing values, while the middle has a decreasing value. That's obviously happening at the low end, but I'm not as convinced the aggregate income is increasing. Adjusted for inflation and labor force participation, I wouldn't be surprised if it had contracted locally over the past several years.

Kingsport is really a micro-level Detroit or Pittsburgh - an old Rust Belt town that was overly reliant upon one industry. While we haven't fallen to the extent they have, Kingsport (and the Tri in general) is also failing to reinvent itself the way Pittsburgh has. Nothing has replaced the manufacturing jobs for the masses, and I'm not sure anything will short to medium term, but we've replaced them with damn near nothing except food service and retail sales.

I missed a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's once I moved back from Des Moines, but the residents really don't have the spending power to shop there, so I think you will see more of these budget grocers selling less nutritious or off-brand items. It's all people can do.
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Old 03-09-2014, 10:15 AM
 
125 posts, read 139,235 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Bear View Post
The area has a fine symphony, tremendous theatre, okay shopping (except for groceries), wonderful transportation, good education both secondary and college, some ethnic diversity, tremendous medical facilities, decent sports venues (if not teams), and fine social organizations. These are the things which can be 'bought' and 'built'.

There is also has a mix of people who are broadly diversified and second to none in terms of their welcoming, sharing attitude.

I would not be so quick to play up what is not here, as much as I would be pushing to demonstrate to potential professionals what the area has to offer, and sell it hard.

Get out there and sell Eastman and the Tri Cities area, Mr. Costa. I recruited people from all over the world to come work for me.

Ask Warren. He doesn't have any trouble brining the very best and brightest to Omaha. Is that town much different than the tri cities?
I must sadly agree that, to an outsider, the Tri-cities does not appear to have much to offer. We were all set to move there until we visited and really looked at the towns and the housing. The fact that many, many houses we saw had been on the market for a year or more is a huge worry to me. What does that say about the real estate market? A house that is comparable to where we live now will cost us 150K MORE than our current house.

Sorry, I didn't see "tremendous theatre" - the closest place to see a national Broadway tour would be Knoxville, the shopping was less than "okay," ETSU is a very small university, and "decent" sports venues are debatable. When you'e trying to recruit people who have lived in and around a big city and are used to seeing professional hockey, football, baseball, and basketball, as well as touring theatre shows, the Tri-Cities is just not offering much in the way of sports or performing arts. I did not get to see the ballet or symphony, but I hear they are good.

Also, depending on where you're coming from, the area is very white, conservative and Christian. Not necessarily bad or good, but not exactly diverse.

At least on paper, Omaha does look quite different. I wonder if Warren offers more money.

I would agree that people really need to sell the Tri-cities, but that did not happen at all on our visit. Everyone I talked to who moved there from bigger cities (outside Chicago, Atlanta, etc.) used the phrases "well, it's an adjustment" or "it's a lot slower" or "you can always go to Knoxville for shopping." Everything was described as "okay" but I didn't encounter much enthusiasm. Families expressed that church was the main center of social interaction. People mentioned that Asheville, Knoxville and other places are nearby, but the emphasis was on the proximity to places that were desirable rather than saying that the Tri-cities were desirable.

It's very frustrating because all I could see there is what we would be missing and giving up. Well, except for the beautiful weather and scenery.
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Old 03-09-2014, 11:45 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wombattver View Post
I must sadly agree that, to an outsider, the Tri-cities does not appear to have much to offer. We were all set to move there until we visited and really looked at the towns and the housing. The fact that many, many houses we saw had been on the market for a year or more is a huge worry to me. What does that say about the real estate market? A house that is comparable to where we live now will cost us 150K MORE than our current house.

Sorry, I didn't see "tremendous theatre" - the closest place to see a national Broadway tour would be Knoxville, the shopping was less than "okay," ETSU is a very small university, and "decent" sports venues are debatable. When you'e trying to recruit people who have lived in and around a big city and are used to seeing professional hockey, football, baseball, and basketball, as well as touring theatre shows, the Tri-Cities is just not offering much in the way of sports or performing arts. I did not get to see the ballet or symphony, but I hear they are good.

Also, depending on where you're coming from, the area is very white, conservative and Christian. Not necessarily bad or good, but not exactly diverse.

At least on paper, Omaha does look quite different. I wonder if Warren offers more money.

I would agree that people really need to sell the Tri-cities, but that did not happen at all on our visit. Everyone I talked to who moved there from bigger cities (outside Chicago, Atlanta, etc.) used the phrases "well, it's an adjustment" or "it's a lot slower" or "you can always go to Knoxville for shopping." Everything was described as "okay" but I didn't encounter much enthusiasm. Families expressed that church was the main center of social interaction. People mentioned that Asheville, Knoxville and other places are nearby, but the emphasis was on the proximity to places that were desirable rather than saying that the Tri-cities were desirable.

It's very frustrating because all I could see there is what we would be missing and giving up. Well, except for the beautiful weather and scenery.
What he's referring to are the Barter and Paramount (if it's still in business) theatres. I'm not a theater person, so I honestly don't care one way or another about them, but it is a draw to some people.

There really are no spectator sports here except for ETSU basketball (who goes to college baseball?) and the minor league baseball teams. No one would expect the area to have any professional sports, but there are no major college athletics for a hundred miles until you get to UT-K. Your other option is VA Tech up in Blacksburg which is farther than Knoxville. If you want professional sports, you're going to Charlotte, Nashville, or Atlanta, each of which is more than three and a half hours away. I've also noticed there is a lack of sports even recreationally for average people. I don't know how anyone can dispute this.

When people think of east TN, especially those from more expensive areas, they automatically associate it with "cheap." Median home price relative to median household income is not cheap, especially in the more desirable areas in and near Johnson City. If you want to be in a more rural setting, housing is cheaper, but incomes there are also lower. I know I posted an example from Rogersville, TN, which had a median home price of around $117k, but only a $22k median HHI. A household with an income of $22k is not going to be putting food on the table without assistance, much less buying a house.

His comparison to Omaha was silly. The Omaha metro is more than double that of the Tri-Cities in population. It is the largest metro in its own state, and also larger than those in neighboring Iowa, SD, Wyoming, at least. The economy in Omaha is far healthier and more diverse than the Tri-Cities and east TN areas.

The people that seem to be the happiest with the Tri-Cities on these forums are those who moved here late in life or to retire and have made their fortunes elsewhere.
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