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Legislators can do right thing, readdress tuition bill

By Jeff Keeling When Tennessee’s commissioner of economic and community development struck a bullish tone on the state’s economy during a recent visit to the Tri-Cities, the role of education rang through clearly. Randy Boyd exhorted local economic development leaders to focus as much on education as they do on things like available land. “Everybody’s got dirt,” he put it. He also touted, with good reason, ...

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Building business by building for businesses: Part one of a two part series

By Scott Robertson  This month saw the release of the national construction cost reports. Cost levels in the U.S. remained stable, a trend that has been in place for some time. “What I see nationally, I can usually see here too,” said Jim Street, founder of JA Street and Associates in Blountville. “Inflation nationally has been at about 2 percent and material prices have been flat. The increases have been m ...

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Innovate or Die

By Scott Robertson Mark Costa, CEO of Eastman Chemical Co., gave a Trumped-up introduction to the annual Eastman Regional Leaders Breakfast (long-informally dubbed the  “State of the Eastman”) address March 3. “I was thinking about what we’d talk about today and we created a bunch of slides that go into detail, and then I thought, I don’t need to do that. All I need to do is say, ‘It’s gonna be yuge! It’s a ...

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Continued FTC scrutiny likely despite merger’s proposed structure

By Jeff Keeling If the legal community’s blogosphere is close to being on target, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) could exert significant influence as Tennessee and Virginia officials consider the proposed Wellmont Health System-Mountain States Health Alliance merger. Tennessee’s Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) law and its Virginia counterpart are intended to shield the states from federal antitru ...

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New King University study: Transfer payments a large and growing part of SW Va economy

By Scott Robertson  One of the most basic ideas of a capitalist economy is that individuals’ income will come from wages and salaries, paid by employers based on the value of the work the employees do, as determined by the marketplace. In Southwest Virginia today, that capitalist ideal is far from the only reality. In fact, in a region that has lost one of its primary economic drivers, tobacco, and is losin ...

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ETSU’s Noland bullish on FOCUS Act’s potential to unleash change

By Jeff Keeling Brian Noland wants you. East Tennessee State University’s peripatetic president has preached the gospel of community partnerships since he set foot on campus four years ago. For most of that time, the youthful leader has been weaving a subtext into that gospel: public higher education is changing, radically, and institutions and their surrounding communities must change with it or risk stagn ...

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Pure Foods cuts the ribbon, and the calories: New world headquarters for manufacturer of healthy snacks opens

By Scott Robertson John Frostad, president and CEO of Pure Foods told the crowd at the Jan. 29 ribbon cutting for the company’s new world headquarters in Kingsport, “We’re going to make this the healthiest snack food company in North America.” It was not so long ago that the title of healthiest snack food company in North America would have been faint praise, along the lines of “the best hockey player in Ec ...

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The State of Tennessee

By Scott Robertson Governor Bill Haslam delivered his annual State of the State address the evening of Feb. 1 in Nashville. It was an upbeat message with the theme, “unique opportunity.” Of more substance was the inclusion of details regarding the governor’s proposed budget. Conservatives love the fact that the governor is putting $100 million into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. That fund will end the fiscal y ...

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Regulators’ role in proposed merger ramping up

By Jeff Keeling The face of health care in the greater Tri-Cities is taking on a distinctively state-regulated appearance as Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System draw closer to applying to Tennessee and Virginia for approval of their proposed merger. Activity is ramping up at both states’ departments of health and attorney generals’ offices in anticipation of an activist state role in ...

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Holston Medical Group staying patient

By Scott Robertson Holston Medical Group will be impacted greatly by whatever decision the states of Virginia and Tennessee make regarding the Mountain States-Wellmont proposed merger. To date, however, HMG has not spoken with either state formally, choosing to wait and see what the hospital groups will say in their COPA requests. That fact doesn’t mean HMG is unconcerned. “We have the same concerns I think ...

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