BTES, NETWORKS earn international honor


Two Northeast Tennessee organizations were honored by a worldwide economic development professional organization recently. NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership and Bristol Tennessee Essential Services won Gold Awards from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The honor was presented at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, October 15 during the IEDC Annual Conference in Indianapolis, IN.

NETWORKS’ entry, the Tri-Cities TN Quality of Life Video, was recognized in the Multimedia/Video Promotion category. The video, which highlights various quality of life assets across the region, was produced with the intent of being used as a recruitment tool by NETWORKS along with chambers of commerce, tourism programs, education partners, and industry and local business partners to use for talent recruitment. The video was created in collaboration with Cumberland Marketing, and the bookends at the beginning and end of the video can be customized with any local organization’s logo and tagline.

“This award is especially gratifying to me for a few reasons,” NETWORKS CEO Clay Walker said. “First of all, it speaks so clearly and loudly to the incredible place in which we all live and enjoy so much. It was also a collaborative effort, obviously with Dana Glenn leading the effort, but with the input and involvement of our entire staff and partners and, of course, our friends at Cumberland Marketing, a local marketing firm. Finally, our Board of Directors were beyond supportive of our producing something that would be regional and of great value to many organizations and causes throughout Northeast Tennessee. Not that we weren’t over-the-moon proud of this video already, but the IEDC Gold Award really offers validity to that sense of pride.”

Glenn, NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership director of Marketing, said this project was particularly satisfying. “This was such a fun project for us because it provided the opportunity to sit down and think about our favorite and most unique regional assets – things that we love dearly but often take for granted as residents – and use them to share the story of the Tri-Cities with the world. I love working with Cumberland Marketing because of the creative collaboration that occurs so organically between our teams, and this project was no exception.”

BTES’s entry, the Teacher Industry Day Program, was recognized in the Business Retention and Expansion Initiatives category. The Teacher Industry Day Program centers around three goals – developing and improving the relationship between the school system and local industry; providing school system personnel with the opportunity to learn about the changing educational needs of workers in industry and to see first-hand the job skills high school graduates must have to compete in today’s workforce; and providing an opportunity to share information about our school system with industry personnel.

“Teacher Industry Day is an innovative opportunity that brings businesses in our community together with educators to provide learning experiences and insight of the relevant skills needed and available jobs in our community,” explained BTES Business Development Manager April Eads. “The all-day event is designed to connect schools with businesses to promote economic and career development.”

“Teacher Industry Day began as a way to promote economic development and career development in our community,” said BTES CEO Mike Browder. “Each year, we start the day with a brief program for our participating teachers and industries and then each teacher in attendance is paired with an industry in our community. The teacher spends the day with leaders at that organization – touring their facility, discussing career opportunities and, ultimately, learning what skills are needed to work at that company.”

“It’s really an amazing thing to think that we brought two of these awards back home to Sullivan County,” NETWORKS Chairman Bill Sumner said. “IEDC represents the very best practices across the globe, so any type of recognition is an honor. For NETWORKS and BTES each to be singled out for being the best of the best is truly remarkable and a reflection of the professionals we have doing economic development work here in Northeast Tennessee as well as the outstanding product our region offers companies.”

IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. Thirty-four award categories honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Awards are judged by a diverse panel of economic and community developers from around the world, following a nomination process held earlier this year. IEDC received over 400 submissions from 12 countries.

“The recipients of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the very best of economic development and exemplify the ingenuity, integrity, and leadership that our profession strives for each and every day,” said 2019 IEDC Board Chair, Tracye McDaniel. “We’re honored to recognize more than 100 communities for their excellent work, which forges new opportunities for our profession. We look forward to even greater participation from economic developers across the globe in the 2020 awards program.”

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