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Old 02-27-2016, 09:40 AM
 
Location: Gray, TN
2,163 posts, read 3,964,555 times
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A recent post about "out of the box thinking" got me ... thinking.

What specific things should this area be doing to improve the quality of life?
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Old 02-27-2016, 10:07 AM
 
Location: Johnson City, TN
667 posts, read 825,984 times
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Lose the 1980's economic development mentality of "chasing smokestacks" and take advantage of the natural beauty and associated recreational opportunities. Market the region's quality of life amenities; higher paying, professional companies tend to care about this sort of thing rather than manufacturers and call centers looking for cheap labor. The future of cities like Erwin and Elizabethton depends on attracting both adventure tourists and residents who work in JC, make decent money, but are outdoor enthusiasts looking to live in a small town close to fishing, hiking, skiing, and rafting.

Double down on enhancing the partnership between etsu and the med center and expand research opportunities. This should happen with the merger between msha and wellmont.

Finish site grading at Tri-Cities Regional Airport and have all local governments work together to attract an aviation/aerospace company.
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Old 02-27-2016, 01:21 PM
 
Location: Gray, TN
2,163 posts, read 3,964,555 times
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What kind of aviation/aerospace company we want to attract? Another Bell Helicopter or ADPMA or are you thinking of a different type?

Does ETSU have any programs in this field? I know UT does and NES has a few classes in the field.
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Old 02-27-2016, 03:32 PM
 
Location: Johnson City, TN
667 posts, read 825,984 times
Reputation: 449
Quote:
What kind of aviation/aerospace company we want to attract? Another Bell Helicopter or ADPMA or are you thinking of a different type?
Obviously we aren't going to get Boeing or Airbus but the commuter jet manufacturing market is more open. Honda, Bombardier, Dassault, Cessna, and Beechcraft are a few examples.

Quote:
Does ETSU have any programs in this field? I know UT does and NES has a few classes in the field.
ETSU has some limited research currently but that would be drastically expanded with the merger of MSHA and Wellmont. It has already been stated that ETSU would be a major player in this new health system. ETSU is the flagship school for public health in the TBR system and a true school-affiliated hospital would allow millions more to be used to fund research recruit high-level specialist to the region.

The future of this area will rely heavily on the growth of ETSU and the merged Mountain States/Wellmont along with attracting innovative manufacturers requiring highly skilled workers.
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Old 02-27-2016, 04:02 PM
 
Location: Gray, TN
2,163 posts, read 3,964,555 times
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Regarding ETSU, I wondered if they had anything related to aeronautics?

ETSU seems to be great in the medical fields. I understand that they have an awesome reputation in computer science. I can personally vouch for their business programs - very strong. I'd like to see them pursue more of the engineering fields.
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Old 02-27-2016, 05:51 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
28,495 posts, read 21,369,628 times
Reputation: 34971
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rangerred View Post
Lose the 1980's economic development mentality of "chasing smokestacks" and take advantage of the natural beauty and associated recreational opportunities. Market the region's quality of life amenities; higher paying, professional companies tend to care about this sort of thing rather than manufacturers and call centers looking for cheap labor. The future of cities like Erwin and Elizabethton depends on attracting both adventure tourists and residents who work in JC, make decent money, but are outdoor enthusiasts looking to live in a small town close to fishing, hiking, skiing, and rafting.

Double down on enhancing the partnership between etsu and the med center and expand research opportunities. This should happen with the merger between msha and wellmont.

Finish site grading at Tri-Cities Regional Airport and have all local governments work together to attract an aviation/aerospace company.
Agree with this. Like I brought up originally, whenever there is some layoff a manufacturing or mining facility, most of the commentators on the local sites just want to bring back our factories and our mines.

The reality of the situation is the easy to get coal is gone and the manufacturing the way most people think about is gone too. To the extent both industries are still in the US, many jobs have been automated away, many have been offshored, and in general it takes far fewer employees to be more productive than in the past.

One of the things that has always made me scratch my head is that there is really no concerted effort, either at the local level or from the state, to leverage the wealth of outdoor opportunities and recreation the area has. There are virtually no billboards marketing any outdoor activity. While that doesn't mean someone will stop right then, it does generate interest for future travels. Michigan does a great job of this with their "Pure Michigan" campaign. There are billboards showing how interesting Michigan is way outside of Michigan. When traveling around Louisville, there are all sorts of billboards about the Louisville Mega Cavern and ziplining, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Churchill Downs, etc. There is a billboard on I-81 near exit 63 talking about downtown Kingsport (which is lame). Change that out with Bays Mountain and you might generate more interest.

IMO, ETSU needs to try to break out of the "regional school" mold and become a public university with its own recognition. The medical and pharmacy schools help, but the school needs to generate research interests in other fields that it can be known for. I think the education I received there was generally good at a reasonable price.

Probably the most significant problem is that local governments compete and don't cooperate, and the smaller municipalities look completely inept. The recent situations in Bluff City and Mt. Carmel are a result of incompetence. If people are reading WCYB or something remotely, the local governments' ineptitude and bickering is likely to give them pause. It also handicaps the area against other similarly sized metros that act in a more cohesive fashion.

The jobs thing is a chicken and egg scenario. The talent of the local labor force (education, skills, etc. - among other reasons) is just not up to par for a lot of industries, so companies don't end up relocating there. Because there are few quality employers, locals who do get an education and skills often can't find work commensurate to their experience and skills, so they move off. In general, especially with people say 30 and under, many of the most talented and driven have moved off, so the ones who are left are generally less driven and talented. At least from my high school class, the vast majority of folks who are now doing well have left the area unless they are in medical or education. Local government basically caters to retirees and does little to retain younger people. Also, whether you're a native or someone from out of the area, depending on your line of work, there may be only a handful of jobs of that type in the area, so if something happens to your job, you're going to have to move. That's more of a small town problem than something specific to the Tri-Cities.

The area needs more help from the state government. Nashville basically ignores the area, and this is yet another handicap outside of our control.
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Old 02-29-2016, 07:06 AM
 
Location: Tri-Cities, TN
185 posts, read 237,024 times
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I do think that ETSU is trying to break out with a new image. They are actively recruiting students from outside the area with scholarships geared toward talented students from outside 200 miles. There is also a very nice international student program that brings in students from all over the world.

In addition, the athletic department has a plan to realign the program to focus on not just great student athletes, but also exposure of the university on a national level. While many people think college athletics are a waste of money and resources, I think this is a very smart approach. Few programs are able to generate the attention nationally than football and basketball. Having these programs build up to a point that ETSU is seen in a positive light on the national stage is nothing but great for both ETSU and the area as a whole.

Most programs and departments are also actively improving the quality of what is offered. Dr. Noland has great vision and I think is making fantastic changes across the board. I'm concerned, but ultimately optimistic about how the plan for a local governance board is going to turn out. I think it will help ETSU be less of the forgotten sibling of UT and other state schools. However, I worry that local politics and small town vision will creep in too much. Hopefully I'm wrong on that.
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Old 02-29-2016, 08:33 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
28,495 posts, read 21,369,628 times
Reputation: 34971
Quote:
Originally Posted by queenladybug817 View Post
I do think that ETSU is trying to break out with a new image. They are actively recruiting students from outside the area with scholarships geared toward talented students from outside 200 miles. There is also a very nice international student program that brings in students from all over the world.

In addition, the athletic department has a plan to realign the program to focus on not just great student athletes, but also exposure of the university on a national level. While many people think college athletics are a waste of money and resources, I think this is a very smart approach. Few programs are able to generate the attention nationally than football and basketball. Having these programs build up to a point that ETSU is seen in a positive light on the national stage is nothing but great for both ETSU and the area as a whole.

Most programs and departments are also actively improving the quality of what is offered. Dr. Noland has great vision and I think is making fantastic changes across the board. I'm concerned, but ultimately optimistic about how the plan for a local governance board is going to turn out. I think it will help ETSU be less of the forgotten sibling of UT and other state schools. However, I worry that local politics and small town vision will creep in too much. Hopefully I'm wrong on that.
Before I left the area for the first time four years ago, I dated a Nigerian graduate student, and there was a larger African student community than I thought. We had quite a few Chinese and Indian students in the business school when I was there. Right or wrong, most of those people don't stay and contribute to the local economy beyond shopping and stuff while here. I'm not sure if it's realistic to try to retain these folks.

I think if ETSU gets additional credibility and recognition, that could attract more higher end companies if they feel than can get well-educated and trainable personnel locally. I don't think the smorgasbord of regional colleges like Lincoln Memorial, King, and Milligan will be able to meet those needs. The flip side of that is the companies that are here have to be willing to hire and train local talent. When I was working at Eastman, they seem to only want new hires from prestigious schools like Virginia Tech, etc., and almost never hire new local graduates. I think the health care firms and school systems do a better job of hiring locals.

I still think the critical element is retaining those who grew up locally or want to live in the area. The Tri-Cities will probably never be a hotspot like Denver, Seattle, etc., so it's critical that the area is made as livable and nice as possible for the natives and people moving in.
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Old 02-29-2016, 09:08 AM
 
Location: Johnson City, TN
667 posts, read 825,984 times
Reputation: 449
Quote:
Originally Posted by queenladybug817 View Post
I do think that ETSU is trying to break out with a new image. They are actively recruiting students from outside the area with scholarships geared toward talented students from outside 200 miles. There is also a very nice international student program that brings in students from all over the world.

In addition, the athletic department has a plan to realign the program to focus on not just great student athletes, but also exposure of the university on a national level. While many people think college athletics are a waste of money and resources, I think this is a very smart approach. Few programs are able to generate the attention nationally than football and basketball. Having these programs build up to a point that ETSU is seen in a positive light on the national stage is nothing but great for both ETSU and the area as a whole.

Most programs and departments are also actively improving the quality of what is offered. Dr. Noland has great vision and I think is making fantastic changes across the board. I'm concerned, but ultimately optimistic about how the plan for a local governance board is going to turn out. I think it will help ETSU be less of the forgotten sibling of UT and other state schools. However, I worry that local politics and small town vision will creep in too much. Hopefully I'm wrong on that.
This. Really above all else, ETSU is the number 1 key to improving the Tri-Cities region. Dr. Noland has done wonderful things in the short time he's been here to increase ETSU's exposure beyond the region and is really working towards re-imagining ETSU as a destination university offering unique courses that will draw from around the country and world. People like to disparage athletics, especially football, but it really is the best vehicle for ETSU to reach a wider audience.

There needs to be better communication and partnership between ETSU and local companies, not just medical services. For example Eastman is partnering with UT currently on an engineering program as ETSU does not currently offer courses pertinent to Eastman's needs. I would also like to see ETSU invest more in emerging opportunities along with arts and non-STEM fields. For example, a degreed brewing/brewery operations program to benefit the emerging market locally and that would also feed off the thriving brewing scene in Asheville. I'd like to see a heavier emphasis on the recording arts and recording industry since the bluegrass/old time music program is so strong. Also greater emphasis of the MPA program that recruits nationally and includes closer relationships with local governments encouraging program graduates to remain local.

The shift from TBR to local control should be a positive for ETSU as I think there is strong local support for the school although this is a relatively recent phenomenon. It wasn't long ago that Johnson City barely acknowledged the presence of ETSU and vice versa. The current city commission has been very progressive in forging a link between ETSU and Johnson City and recognizing what a strong economic asset the school is.
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Old 02-29-2016, 09:13 AM
 
Location: Tri-Cities, TN
185 posts, read 237,024 times
Reputation: 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by Serious Conversation View Post
Before I left the area for the first time four years ago, I dated a Nigerian graduate student, and there was a larger African student community than I thought. We had quite a few Chinese and Indian students in the business school when I was there. Right or wrong, most of those people don't stay and contribute to the local economy beyond shopping and stuff while here. I'm not sure if it's realistic to try to retain these folks.

I think if ETSU gets additional credibility and recognition, that could attract more higher end companies if they feel than can get well-educated and trainable personnel locally. I don't think the smorgasbord of regional colleges like Lincoln Memorial, King, and Milligan will be able to meet those needs. The flip side of that is the companies that are here have to be willing to hire and train local talent. When I was working at Eastman, they seem to only want new hires from prestigious schools like Virginia Tech, etc., and almost never hire new local graduates. I think the health care firms and school systems do a better job of hiring locals.

I still think the critical element is retaining those who grew up locally or want to live in the area. The Tri-Cities will probably never be a hotspot like Denver, Seattle, etc., so it's critical that the area is made as livable and nice as possible for the natives and people moving in.
While many of the international students I've worked with and become friends with over the years want to stay in the area, there are often barriers to this. It's not always lack of jobs, sometimes, they just cannot stay because of family obligations in their home country or other immigration roadblocks. A large portion of them really love it here and try very hard to stay.

But regardless if they stay or not, having a good group of these students is still necessary for ETSU to have a brand that shows they are not just a regional school. I think we will always have a large number of local students, but just bringing in a bigger share of non-local students, both from other areas of the US and on an international scale, will change the image of ETSU for the better. These students may not ultimately stay here, but it would be a culture shift that can do some pretty amazing things for the school. As the school improves its image, competing with schools like Virginia Tech and UT for jobs locally isn't a stretch. Gotta get the image changed first and part of that is attracting students that bring in diversity and talent from other places. I'm not saying we don't have some pretty awesome talented students here already, but the influence of outsiders can be a tremendous boost.
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