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Kingsport - Johnson City - Bristol The Tri-Cities area
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Old 06-13-2015, 07:36 PM
 
745 posts, read 2,018,648 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jchometeam View Post
Coal mining jobs are generally good paying jobs. From what I hear, the problem is finding someone willing to do the job who can also pass a drug test.
About 15 years ago there was an up-tick in the coal industry. Entry level jobs at that time were starting at $65K in an area where the average family income was around $30K. I'm all for the environment, but phasing in technology over time would've made many lives in this region better. It's sickening the way the war on coal has devastated some of the poorest regions of the country when newer coal plants, like in St. Paul, VA are incredibly clean and efficient. I keep hearing several themes of paths people take. One is drugs, usually weed and meth and Appalachia now exports both with estimates in the billions, another is disability, and the third option is Halliburton for those people willing to leave or travel to Ohio or Pennsylvania for stretches.

There's no doubt these jobs in SW VA and even SE KY have had a huge impact on Bristol and Kingsport just in terms of money and population loss for their shopping region. Their continued progress has been amazing despite that anchor.
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Old 06-14-2015, 01:48 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
28,274 posts, read 21,185,751 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fourwinds View Post
Kingsport and Bristol took a major wallup from SW Va losing like 30,000 coal related jobs that won't be coming back. Retail and service trade jobs in those cities haven't come back, as much of it was based on Sw Va spending. Add manufacturing job losses on top of that, and its rather miraculous Kingsport and Bristol aren't worse off.

Johnson City is further removed from SW Va, and has more university and government positions, so its economically more insular.
The worst hit southwest VA areas are pretty far from Kingsport and Bristol. Lee, Buchanan, Dickinson, Wise, and Tazewell counties are a mess, but they're pretty far from the Tri-Cities. The situation in those counties is downright dire, but I don't think those far flung areas have much impact. Scott county is a little better off than those counties, and Washington/Smyth counties benefit from that. Anything north of Smyth turns toward Wytheville IMO.
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Old 06-14-2015, 01:52 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
28,274 posts, read 21,185,751 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor92 View Post
About 15 years ago there was an up-tick in the coal industry. Entry level jobs at that time were starting at $65K in an area where the average family income was around $30K. I'm all for the environment, but phasing in technology over time would've made many lives in this region better. It's sickening the way the war on coal has devastated some of the poorest regions of the country when newer coal plants, like in St. Paul, VA are incredibly clean and efficient. I keep hearing several themes of paths people take. One is drugs, usually weed and meth and Appalachia now exports both with estimates in the billions, another is disability, and the third option is Halliburton for those people willing to leave or travel to Ohio or Pennsylvania for stretches.

There's no doubt these jobs in SW VA and even SE KY have had a huge impact on Bristol and Kingsport just in terms of money and population loss for their shopping region. Their continued progress has been amazing despite that anchor.
Middlesborough is probably the closest eastern KY town to Kingsport and Bristol, and it has enough in the way of essentials at it is. I doubt people are coming from Bell County to shop in the Tri-Cities.

Coal mining is comparatively well-paying, but dangerous and it is cyclical. The easy to get coal is gone and coal mining is becoming less labor intensive over time. It can't be counted on as an economic engine. Southwest VA should have diversified away from it, but I think the ship has pretty much sailed on the southwest VA counties.
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Old 06-14-2015, 01:55 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rangerred View Post
I think the area's economy as a whole is on a steady recovery but most of that recovery has been concentrated in Johnson City with a touch in Kingsport and Bristol. Unfortunately I don't see any large boost happening to the region's economy in the near-future. I feel like Eastman is committed to Kingsport with the construction of their new corporate headquarters but they really aren't adding jobs. Bristol is really not doing much of anything on the manufacturing side but seems to be going directly after the tourist dollars (The Pinnacle, Birthplace of County Music Museum, boutique hotels downtown). Johnson City has seen a surge in retail development lately and has a burgeoning downtown but has lacked job growth in the higher-paying corporate/medical sectors. I really think the MSHA/Wellmont merger will play out nicely for Johnson City and will bring a surge of good jobs. I also think the city is on the cusp of being able to attract some corporations to locate regional headquarters here.

What this region needs more than anything, however, is cooperation and collaboration among the local governments. Unfortunately this seems like a lot cause among the three big cities. Especially between Johnson City and Kingsport as each seem to want to be the principal city in the region (Kingsport desperately so). What seems more likely to happen is the two metros join work on collaborative efforts within their respective counties. This is already happening to some extent with Sullivan and Hawkins counties. The Washington County Economic Development Council is exploring the ideas of partnering with Carter and Unicoi counties on economic development but I think there is some push back. Many in Carter and Unicoi counties still believe they can compete and go toe-to-toe with Washington County in industrial recruitment and economic development. It's a shame really because Elizabethton and Erwin refuse to acknowledge what they are (basically bedroom cities or suburbs/exurbs) of Johnson City and make the most of this. They instead try to compete with JC/Washington County to the detriment of their own economies.
I agree and I think the lack of cooperation between the governments is the big problem that doesn't get talked about. While politicians everywhere are known for boneheaded decisions, the little local governments in the Tri-Cities just can't seem to stop squabbling over relatively minor issues of sales taxes, strip annexation, etc, and ignore real solutions that could push the area forward.
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Old 06-15-2015, 02:52 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emigrations View Post
Middlesborough is probably the closest eastern KY town to Kingsport and Bristol, and it has enough in the way of essentials at it is. I doubt people are coming from Bell County to shop in the Tri-Cities.

Coal mining is comparatively well-paying, but dangerous and it is cyclical. The easy to get coal is gone and coal mining is becoming less labor intensive over time. It can't be counted on as an economic engine. Southwest VA should have diversified away from it, but I think the ship has pretty much sailed on the southwest VA counties.
The largest feeder to Kingsport from KY is the US-23/I-26 corrider. Letcher and Harlan counties have a strong representation coming into Kingsport on that highway every weekend as well as several of the SW VA counties you mentioned. Healthcare is one big reason as although Pikeville is a medical community and probably a closer travel, they still lack many specialties as would be expected in a town of 7,000, it is much further to Lexington, and MSHA/Wellmont dominate healthcare in SW VA and send their referrals to the Tri-Cities. Same goes for retail unless you can find it at Walmart or a grocery store, restaurants, theaters, media including paper and tv stations, buying a car unless you want a Ford, GM, or Chrysler, etc.

I would agree on several of your other points, but would merely point out that despite the dangers and cyclical nature, the fact that so many would apply to do it because it's the only way to provide a good living for their family has to mean something and I would disagree that it's "better" in any way to remove this opportunity. And coal being hard to get to does not account for active mines shutting down as has happened recently due to the politics of demand. It's not an individual's fault that a rural area is unable to diversify an economy, most rural areas can't. But this population has been a nice source of sales tax revenue for especially Kingsport and Sullivan County, and yet the development is continuing. Part of the reason, I suspect, is the more these counties struggle, the more businesses there go out, and a greater percentage of business is routed to the Tri-Cities. One example, I recently ordered some appliances to be delivered to a family member in Dickenson County. The guys that delivered it and the store that supplied the online order was the Home Depot store in Kingsport. The areas are more economically inter-connected than many people realize.

Last edited by Trevor92; 06-15-2015 at 03:11 AM..
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Old 06-15-2015, 01:11 PM
 
Location: Johnson City, TN
667 posts, read 820,885 times
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Honestly the economy in the Tri-Cities is extremely bifurcated. Not only among the population but the cities and counties as well. There are those with good jobs who are able to take advantage of all this area has to offer, really benefit from the lower cost of living and are able to do quite well. I'd say a family of 4 with little debt could do very well here on 80-100k per year and this is not an unreasonable salary for a couple in this area.

You also, however, have a large population of the "have-nots", the working poor who suffer from a lack of education, lack of opportunity (both perceived and real), unhealthy lifestyle choices leading to medical/criminal issues, etc. Many of these issues are the same ones you would see in a large city but I think tend to be more visible here due to the smaller population.

There starting to be a widening economic gap among the area governments too. As industry in the outlying, more rural counties dries up all of the wealth is beginning to concentrate in Washington and Sullivan Counties, especially Washington. Kingsport used to be the economic center of the Tri-Cities but even with Eastman's expansion, its employment numbers continue to shrink. Johnson City's diverse economy has left it in a great position to thrive in a post-industrial economy.

Finally, the slow but steady pace of home construction, at least in Johnson City, shows that the economy is indeed improving. I know someone else can probably explain this but looking at average home prices along with just the sheer number of higher-end subdivisions and apartments, one would never guess the median household income is only $38,000; less than Kingsport's. Just comparing the housing stock of the two cities would make one question the numbers.
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Old 06-16-2015, 05:04 AM
 
Location: Kingsport
182 posts, read 213,732 times
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This is a complex situation that's hard to grasp in short graphs. Since the recession the Johnson City MSA has lost about 1,200 nonfarm jobs. Employment - but not the number of jobs - is reported on the city level. Kingsport-Bristol's nonfarm job total is about 600 less than it was before the recession.
There's no doubt about the number of manufacturing jobs have gone and replaced by higher tech mfg jobs or contract employees.
There's also no doubt that Johnson City has the more vibrant housing market, but overall housing prices reached pre-recession levels two years ago then began softening. More homes are being sold, but the average price is lower. And area wide the new home sector is performing a barely half of its pre-recession level.
When you look at employment, Kingsport is the only city in the region where more people have jobs than before the recession. One of the things that makes tracking this employment issue difficult is our commuting patterns.
Unfortunately most of the thinking and discussion is done on the level of city economies when the overall regional economy is more reflective of the larger and more important trends.
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Old 06-16-2015, 05:48 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
28,274 posts, read 21,185,751 times
Reputation: 34656
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rangerred View Post
Honestly the economy in the Tri-Cities is extremely bifurcated. Not only among the population but the cities and counties as well. There are those with good jobs who are able to take advantage of all this area has to offer, really benefit from the lower cost of living and are able to do quite well. I'd say a family of 4 with little debt could do very well here on 80-100k per year and this is not an unreasonable salary for a couple in this area.

You also, however, have a large population of the "have-nots", the working poor who suffer from a lack of education, lack of opportunity (both perceived and real), unhealthy lifestyle choices leading to medical/criminal issues, etc. Many of these issues are the same ones you would see in a large city but I think tend to be more visible here due to the smaller population.

There starting to be a widening economic gap among the area governments too. As industry in the outlying, more rural counties dries up all of the wealth is beginning to concentrate in Washington and Sullivan Counties, especially Washington. Kingsport used to be the economic center of the Tri-Cities but even with Eastman's expansion, its employment numbers continue to shrink. Johnson City's diverse economy has left it in a great position to thrive in a post-industrial economy.

Finally, the slow but steady pace of home construction, at least in Johnson City, shows that the economy is indeed improving. I know someone else can probably explain this but looking at average home prices along with just the sheer number of higher-end subdivisions and apartments, one would never guess the median household income is only $38,000; less than Kingsport's. Just comparing the housing stock of the two cities would make one question the numbers.
I wouldn't say $80k-$100k is that big of a number for two working adults, but keep in mind that's a minimum if $40k for each one. In my experience and from people I know, that's a bit of a tall order if you are not at Eastman, medical, or education.

I completely agree what growth is occurring is primarily in Washington county and Johnson City. The housing stock in JC just seems newer and the town seems far more vibrant than Kingsport and Bristol. Even though a lot of higher paid Eastman folks work in Kingsport, they live in probably spend the most money in JC. I was back home a few weeks ago and went out to Tipton's with some college buddies and was surprised at how quickly the downtown is picking up steam.

If the region is going to thrive, I think JC has to come out strongly ahead of elsewhere and pretty much live Kingsport and Bristol as satellite cities.
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Old 06-18-2015, 07:28 AM
 
Location: Kingsport, TN
1,697 posts, read 6,143,243 times
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Retail sales increased in each of the Tri-Cities in the first quarter despite severe weather conditions, according to a report released Wednesday by the East Tennessee State University Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

Kingsport sales rose 4.4 percent to $379 million, Johnson City sales were up 2 percent to $457 million, and Bristol sales were higher by 4.4 percent to $250 million during the January-to-March time period.

Report: Cold winter didn't slow down retail sales | Kingsport Times-News

Tri-Cities Retail Sales Report First Quarter 2015
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Old 06-18-2015, 12:23 PM
 
Location: Nashville, TN
1,283 posts, read 2,015,483 times
Reputation: 1000
I dont know if this has been posted yet or not..

HSN Moving 350 Jobs To Piney Flats Facility - The Greeneville Sun: Local Business News

I read about this in the local Nashville news last night of all places.
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