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Kingsport - Johnson City - Bristol The Tri-Cities area
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Old 09-13-2019, 01:30 PM
Location: Crossville, TN
1 posts, read 268 times
Reputation: 15


Very good commentary, tnff. I grew up in Bristol and lived/worked there for several years after college, and your views of the 'big fish in a small pond' stuff is definitely there...I could name names, but won't One of them pressured the city to disincentivize a manufacturing company seeking to set up there years ago since, as the story I heard goes, new employees would be starting out a few bucks/hr higher than folks doing comparable work at said big fish's company which he owned along with a few others.

As for STEM talent and "cookbook engineers", I agree with your sentiments here, too. I graduated in '07 with a BSME from a TN public uni, and all the hoopla & politics of academia culture/business aside, I always felt they were just training obedient cubicle monkeys. Having worked in a dying niche of the private, small business arena and starting my own things, the perceived assumptions that the institutions of 'higher learning' are embedding in the curriculum and guidance for students isn't conducive at all to surviving and growing a nimble, efficiently-run business that can navigate the rapidly-changing landscape of the business world in the face of tech innovation/automation.

And as far as government 'leadership', I'd say it comes down to forming alliances among small businesses and private organizations in the area, scraping some funds together, and trying to get some fundamentally-valuable startups moving that keep commerce/money circulating locally for a bit longer than the status quo where a resident makes money then takes it to a big-box store where it immediately whisks away to corp HQ in another state/country. All that being in spite of said 'leadership'. Sounds nice on paper, anyway.

Last edited by CopperMS; 09-13-2019 at 01:40 PM..
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Old 09-13-2019, 03:42 PM
Location: Jonesborough, TN
690 posts, read 1,273,098 times
Reputation: 705
Much of this discussion isn't really about this region in particular, but rather is much more about a rural/urban continuum and everything that goes along with it (including the political leanings, as urban areas are almost always more liberal than rural areas).

There is a continuum where at the extreme large size you have Nashville and the extreme small size you have cities with under 2,500 population. Nashville has lots of jobs, traffic, activities, crime, education, etc. The most rural areas have less jobs, traffic, activities, crime (other than shoplifting, drugs, and domestic violence), and much worse education. Some people prefer either extreme. Others, like me, prefer something in the middle.

Regarding employment- the Johnson City/Kingsport/Bristol CSA has approximately 10,000 people unemployed. For a workforce of around 236k, that is a very good number. Much of the 10,000 unemployment is a result of our country's reluctance to hire someone with a criminal record. Thus, there is a percentage of people who aren't going to be hired if we bring in another large employer. Instead, those who are advocating such a thing are really looking for large population gains as these jobs attract those from outside the area. Simply put- I don't want a massive population gain, as I said before I like something in the middle of urban and rural and I like our current size.

It is absolutely true that many people are working in fields that they didn't get an education in, or are underemployed. Why would these people take such jobs instead of moving to Nashville? Some will move. The others will stay because they like the area. Much of why they like the area is because it is something in the middle of urban and rural. Most of my colleagues (I work at a local college) grew up in this area, went and got an advanced education, and then came back here to work when they could have picked anywhere else in the country and earned approximately double than what they earn here. They like it here, even with the lower pay, because of the size of the area (and everything that goes along with that as said above), the culture, the politics, and the mountains.

Johnson City is one of countless cities of a similar size across the country with similar levels of unemployment, crime rate, traffic, activities and shopping, and educational quality. What sets us apart from these cities is the culture, climate, and mountains. That is what we should be focusing on when marketing. By doing so, we will attract some retirees with disposable income, some young people who like all of the above, but will not fundamentally change everything that is great about this region.

To put down this area's citizens for wanting a particular way of life is wrong, just as it is wrong for me to say negative things about those who live in Nashville even though I would never want to do that. Similarly, to put down our city and county leadership for representing what the citizens want regarding low taxes, cost of living, etc. is wrong. Finally, to put down our leaders due to their racial or gender makeup is equally wrong. It does not matter if our leaders are all white, all black, all male, or all female- if they don't represent their constituents they will be voted out of office.
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Old 09-13-2019, 05:03 PM
15,750 posts, read 28,802,926 times
Reputation: 19533
Agree with above post. Also some of these posts are basically duplicates saying the same thing over and over.
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