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Old 09-11-2019, 06:46 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
28,286 posts, read 21,213,936 times
Reputation: 34696

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https://www.wjhl.com/news/regional-e...ss-challenges/

I totally agree with these local business leaders. There is still far too much of the "each city must go it alone" mindset in this region, and that three smaller cities cannot effectively compete as well as a region that presents itself as one voice.
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:25 PM
 
Location: Jonesborough, TN
690 posts, read 1,272,773 times
Reputation: 705
I *mostly* disagree with these leaders, just to provide another perspective. This, like the name branding fiasco, cant just be pushed through without first winning the PR approval battle with the locals. They currently arent even close in that regard
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:32 AM
 
Location: Johnson City, TN
667 posts, read 821,493 times
Reputation: 449
Due to my line of work, I interact with local government and business leaders as well as some "lower ranking" politicians such as county/city commissioners as well as the general public. It's amazing to see the lack of understanding, or just the refusal to acknowledge, the economic realities facing the region. It was embarrassing how few elected officials attended the forum.

Honestly, as much as I love the region there is a culture of ignorance that pervades much of the local population as well as those holding elected office. Even presented with much data, they will refuse to even make an attempt to understand it and believe it is just some rich folks trying to fleece them. Ballad, ETSU, etc. has tried to communicate the region's issues to these folks and it just isn't sinking in.

These people are never going to get on board so it's now time to just move on and hope that maybe the leaders who have some sense will do what needs to be done. If we can make some of the investments needed to attract additional newcomers to the region, maybe enough momentum can eventually build to enable wholesale change.

This area's excessive provincialism and conservatism will ultimately be its downfall.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:18 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
28,286 posts, read 21,213,936 times
Reputation: 34696
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rangerred View Post
Due to my line of work, I interact with local government and business leaders as well as some "lower ranking" politicians such as county/city commissioners as well as the general public. It's amazing to see the lack of understanding, or just the refusal to acknowledge, the economic realities facing the region. It was embarrassing how few elected officials attended the forum.

Honestly, as much as I love the region there is a culture of ignorance that pervades much of the local population as well as those holding elected office. Even presented with much data, they will refuse to even make an attempt to understand it and believe it is just some rich folks trying to fleece them. Ballad, ETSU, etc. has tried to communicate the region's issues to these folks and it just isn't sinking in.

These people are never going to get on board so it's now time to just move on and hope that maybe the leaders who have some sense will do what needs to be done. If we can make some of the investments needed to attract additional newcomers to the region, maybe enough momentum can eventually build to enable wholesale change.

This area's excessive provincialism and conservatism will ultimately be its downfall.
Agreed.

I think Mark Costa really hit it out of the park and didn't BS around the issues. Asheville has a special kind of viability due to the tourism and out of area money. Knoxville has a major university and more going on. Both areas clearly have more openness to newcomers and different ideas. Still, this area doesn't compete well on the whole even with somewhere like Chattanooga and maybe even metro Roanoke that ostensibly wouldn't have many of those advantages.

Johnson City and even Bristol have made significant improvements in quality of life and overall livability, but the fact of the matter is that these activities have not translated into much economic growth.

The bottom line is that, if you don't already have local ties, this area is just not going to be attractive for a lot of folks. It's rare that people relocate specifically for blue collar/trade type jobs. There's a lot of that here, but unless you're already here, it's likely not going to be enough to make you move. The white collar/professional job market is better than it was, but still not to the level of Knoxville or probably even Asheville.

Pay is an issue, as well as amenities, especially for folks coming from more vibrant areas. For instance, a person is not going to move here from metro Nashville, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Raleigh, etc., to take a large pay cut, and have fewer amenities, especially for kids.

Real or not, the perceived quality of healthcare is a concern. I've probably talked to at least a half dozen people on this board who liked the lack of traffic, weather, or something about the area in general, but also express concerns on the healthcare.

What I find a bit amusing is that many of the people who want to keep the status quo and not embrace regionalism are oftentimes the ones struggling the most. I see all sorts of negative posts on the "Appalachian Highlands" name, Ballad, etc., on my Facebook, and the people posting that type of thing are often the ones struggling who could use a boost from a more competitive local economy.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:07 AM
 
6,511 posts, read 7,501,071 times
Reputation: 17017
I had reason to present in front of the Wash'ton County Commissioners.


I was struck that they were the classic bunch of "old white guys" (one woman, no minorities) whose minds were slammed shut decades ago. I don't even think they heard, let alone listened, to a word I said.


Eventually the area is going to run out of land to pave over for additional tax revenue and these boards/commissions are going to have to start to do some legitimate thinking.


Sadly, they are not ready, yet.
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Old 09-12-2019, 04:44 PM
 
Location: Gray, TN
2,157 posts, read 3,951,533 times
Reputation: 906
Rangerred, you have some very good ideas but I think you make an error in conservatism being this area's downfall. IMO it is one of our top three assets. No one here wants to be like Nashville, Asheville, or Chatanooga. In my work, I meet many transplants and new entrepreneurs. 75%+ of the transplants are conservatives migrating from California or Michigan or the North East. The reasons are because taxes are too high, the government is too controlling and liberal, and they no longer feel welcome or able to succeed. I think we need to promote our conservatism and conservation.

We need to advertise our low taxes, low COL, outdoor activities, four seasons, and fiscal responsibility. We need to run adds in CA, the midwest, and northeast. We also need to build up our support system for new AND existing businesses of all kinds. We need to market ourselves in beach metros as an outdoor vacation destination. People that live at the beach go to the mountains on vacation. These things should be the goal of the "Appalachian Highlands" campaign. Embrace who we are, don't change it and try to be Asheville-lite.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:30 PM
 
1 posts, read 389 times
Reputation: 15
A political stance isn’t an asset. You would alienate more people than you would attract with that and stating that 75% of people moving here are conservatives moving here for that reason is ridiculous, that just happens to be who you’ve run into
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Old 09-12-2019, 09:16 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
28,286 posts, read 21,213,936 times
Reputation: 34696
Quote:
Originally Posted by rccrain View Post
Rangerred, you have some very good ideas but I think you make an error in conservatism being this area's downfall. IMO it is one of our top three assets. No one here wants to be like Nashville, Asheville, or Chatanooga. In my work, I meet many transplants and new entrepreneurs. 75%+ of the transplants are conservatives migrating from California or Michigan or the North East. The reasons are because taxes are too high, the government is too controlling and liberal, and they no longer feel welcome or able to succeed. I think we need to promote our conservatism and conservation.

We need to advertise our low taxes, low COL, outdoor activities, four seasons, and fiscal responsibility. We need to run adds in CA, the midwest, and northeast. We also need to build up our support system for new AND existing businesses of all kinds. We need to market ourselves in beach metros as an outdoor vacation destination. People that live at the beach go to the mountains on vacation. These things should be the goal of the "Appalachian Highlands" campaign. Embrace who we are, don't change it and try to be Asheville-lite.
The problem is that the low taxes, low COL, and the rest of that don't really matter in terms of economic development by themselves. They're not attracting people or businesses, and overall, they're not the most important factors. The status quo hasn't worked. On paper, it should help attract business vs. higher cost areas, all things equal, but in practice, we're behind.

You need some level of open-mindedness and consumer willingness to buy into new products and ideas for things to get off the ground economically. For the most part, that's not happening here. Look at the Kingsport thread going on. The big problem locally is that there are entrenched patterns and few want to deviate from them. This leaves a few safe avenues of economic development, with tons of questions.

For instance, in Kingsport especially, if a new restaurant is opened that falls outside the conservative dining pattern, it fails. Doing anything outside the established, conservative way of doing things here is likely to be met with failure. That certainly has a chilling effect on outside entrepreneurs who otherwise would consider a low tax, low wage, low regulation area. Entrepreneurs do not want a skittish, entrenched consume base that has no openness to new ideas or products. That's where we are.

People from outside the area are by and large are not moving here to start new businesses. To the extent that we attract newcomers, they tend to be retirees or people who are moving here for reasons other than business/career growth.
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Old 09-13-2019, 07:24 AM
 
Location: Johnson City, TN
667 posts, read 821,493 times
Reputation: 449
Quote:
Originally Posted by rccrain View Post
Rangerred, you have some very good ideas but I think you make an error in conservatism being this area's downfall. IMO it is one of our top three assets. No one here wants to be like Nashville, Asheville, or Chatanooga. In my work, I meet many transplants and new entrepreneurs. 75%+ of the transplants are conservatives migrating from California or Michigan or the North East. The reasons are because taxes are too high, the government is too controlling and liberal, and they no longer feel welcome or able to succeed. I think we need to promote our conservatism and conservation.

We need to advertise our low taxes, low COL, outdoor activities, four seasons, and fiscal responsibility. We need to run adds in CA, the midwest, and northeast. We also need to build up our support system for new AND existing businesses of all kinds. We need to market ourselves in beach metros as an outdoor vacation destination. People that live at the beach go to the mountains on vacation. These things should be the goal of the "Appalachian Highlands" campaign. Embrace who we are, don't change it and try to be Asheville-lite.
I admire Asheville for what they've done in creating a thriving, growing, economy in the heart of the Appalachians.They have become a hub for the outdoor gear manufacturing industry and are a beacon for entrepreneurs from around the country. These entities are ok with higher taxes and cost of living (compared to TN) because the culture in Asheville allows their businesses to thrive. People are open-minded and supportive of new business and new experiences.

Regarding outdoor gear manufacturers, I was at a discussion with some industry representatives and they talked about the importance of cultural fit as a key component of a location. Yes, a skilled workforce is important but they want those workers to have a vested interest in the products the company is making and share these companies' values (i.e.environmental stewardship, importance of diversity, work/life balance, etc.) It is currently easier for these companies to meet their needs in western NC rather than east TN.

The Tri-Cities' current economic development system is broken and local leaders are completely ignorant as to what it takes to attract millennial workers to the region or companies that in many cases are now led by millennials. The outright fear of change and innovation is strangling the region and it is beyond frustrating to someone like myself who can see the limitless potential the region has.
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Old 09-13-2019, 09:04 AM
 
8,225 posts, read 4,644,622 times
Reputation: 22222
It's not about conservative vs liberal values and it's not just in your region of Tennessee. There are several parts to this problem here in this state, no the least of which is that most of the political leaders, ie the actual players who can influence things, don't care about anything outside the big 3 -- Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis. Chattanooga is starting to rumble a little, but still not really a decisive player on the stage. In my Congressional District, we are the small city and a lot of rural area being wagged by the part of a large city included in on one end. Those folks aren't interested in what happens here and don't know what's going on or care.

The other problem in many of these smaller cities here in Tennessee is the local leaders are playing the big fish in the small pond game. Doesn't matter liberal or conservative, they would not be the power player if the city started actually growing and developing new industry. The kind of people my dad used to call "thousand dollar millionaires" meaning they liked to pretend they were important people when they weren't. An example in my city is we need some major road changes to accommodate future growth. A bypass around town and improvements to internal connector roads. Not happening because the current system forces everyone through the local business section and those local leaders don't want a bypass that would let cars get around without going by their business.

Then there's secondary education. We really need to add a four year degree in the local area. Kids have to go out of region or even out of state. There is no alternative that lets them live at home or for working adults to get a four year degree without a huge commute.

Which ties to another issue, though not as obvious. Higher education in our state isn't in the top flight of universities except for Vanderbilt (private) or perhaps UT. Esp in the STEM fields. I've interviewed and hired enough scientists and engineers to know that the major flagships out of state are producing more advanced thinking than our in state schools. We're producing what I call "cookbook engineers" who are well trained to solve the same basic engineering problems that have been solved for years, but are not trained to research and solve the next generation of problems. IE they aren't trained to innovate.

Then consider the other big issues that major industry looks at when relocating -- transportation and recreation. Most of our transportation infrastructure flows through the big three so industry will want to be near that or at least near a major interstate system. And finally recreation. Local and state recreation facilities are woefully behind outside the major areas. It's not just the being out of date, but a mindset of "we don't need to waste money on … bike trails, sports facilities, take your pick." Tennessee's extreme frugality prevents us from building the basic infrastructure needed to attract new industry.
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