NETREP meets with Budget Committee, talks expansion and future growth opportunities

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, May 15, 2019

As the budget season shifts into the 2019/2020 year, the County Commission is looking at ways to expand industry and commerce in the region, as well as various partnerships it can make with local organizations and businesses in order to achieve said growth.

Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership representative Mitch Miller addressed the Carter County Budget Committee Monday evening.

Miller said he wanted to clarify a few things from a previous meeting NETREP had with county commissioners as well as provide a possible approach to economic growth in Carter County, talking about the economic impact the organization has made in East Tennessee over the past few years.

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“We have added $1.6 million in additional payroll for 1,325 employees,” Miller said, citing roughly 459 of them being Carter County residents. “At the end of the day, payroll is what matters.”

Miller said while there are many opportunities Carter County could look towards to expand their economic opportunities, including the recent movements with Snap-on, which they projected would bring in roughly 100 new jobs, other regions are growing at a faster rate.

“It is important to look at competitors,” he said, pointing to Knoxville and Asheville. “You guys are under a lot of pressure.”

Commissioner Ross Garland said Carter County has always been behind the curve in this regard, with labor force growth being “minimal” in Carter County.

“That right there is what we need,” Garland said as the conversation about Snap-on’s recent efforts continued. “To me, it is a two-way street.”

Garland said the board needed a level of accountability and reporting in how it promotes industry in the region, and several members discussed attending NETREP’s quarterly meetings as a way to do that.

When asked what ways he recommended Carter County invest in, Miller said entrepreneurial efforts.

“It is up to us to make that initiative,” Garland said.