The year was 1999.
My son was 8 years old. My daughter was 4 years old.
Eastman Chemical was finding its feet as an independent company after spinning off from Kodak 6 years earlier. Several local manufacturers were facing downsizing, restructuring, or closure.
A new Board of Mayor and Aldermen had just been elected.
Mayor Jeanette Blazier called for an Economic Summit with 60 community leaders at MeadowView.
There was concern about the sustainability of Kingsport's economy.
There was concern about overdependency on the manufacturing sector and a need for diversification.
There was also the realization that the city's demographics were unbalanced -- specifically the lack of college-age residents.
So, where are we now?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the Kingsport MSA:
2,521 more residents were employed in Nov 2008 than Nov 1998
While 10,500 manufacturing jobs were lost...
5,400 healthcare jobs were added
2,800 leisure/hospitality jobs were added
1,300 natural resources/mining/construction jobs were added
600 financial jobs were added
500 information jobs were added
Drilling down to the City of Kingsport proper....
2000: 17,638 employed city residents
2007: 19,159 employed city residents
Management, professional, and related occupations
2000: 6,002 or 34%
2007: 6,619 or 34.5%
2000: 2,685 or 15.2%
2007: 3,192 or 16.7%
Sales and office occupations
2000: 4,852 or 27.5%
2007: 5,105 or 26.6%
or by industry....
2000: 1,365 or 7.7%
2007: 1,411 or 7.4%
2000: 3,651 or 20.7%
2007: 2,955 or 15.4%
2000: 658 or 3.7%
2007: 776 or 4.1%
2000: 2,389 or 13.5%
2007: 2,378 or 12.4%
Transportation and warehousing, and utilities
2000: 515 or 2.9%
2007: 790 or 4.1%
2000: 341 or 1.9%
2007: 404 or 2.1%
Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing
2000: 981 or 5.6%
2007: 1,293 or 6.7%
Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services
2000: 1,206 or 6.8%
2007: 1,227 or 6.4%
Educational services, and health care and social assistance
2000: 3,303 or 18.7%
2007: 4,473 or 23.3%
Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation, and food services
2000: 1,771 or 10.0%
2007: 2,110 or 11.0%
Other services, except public administration
2000: 907 or 5.1%
2007: 987 or 5.2%
2000: 478 or 2.7%
2007: 308 or 1.6%
The median family income for city residents increased by 20% (from $40,351 to $48,351)
The median household income for city residents increased by 13% (from $30,524 to $34,391)
The number of college-age city residents increased 26% (2,554 in 2007 vs. 2,025 in 2000)
The % of city residents who are college-age increased from 4.5% to 5.6%
It is important to highlight these are *residents*, not just those who commute into Kingsport to take college classes.
2007 American Community Survey (City of Kingsport):
Median Age: 42.6
Median Household Income: $34,391
Median Family Income: $48,351
15-19 yrs old: 2,219 or 4.8%
20-24 yrs old: 2,554 or 5.6%
2000 Census (City of Kingsport):
Median Age: 41.9
Median Household Income: $30,524
Median Family Income: $40,351
15-19 yrs old: 2,513 or 5.6%
20-24 yrs old: 2,025 or 4.5%
So, ten years after the Economic Summit of 1999, Kingsport is well on it's way to realizing its vision for a diverse economy with balanced demographics.
On the cloing day of the 1999 Summit, my 4-year-old daughter joined the Mayor for a photo opportunity of Kingsport's future.
Today she's in her freshman year of high school and I feel much better about her future.
Kingsport's vision is indeed paying dividends.
www.MoveToKingsport.com is located on the Tennessee-Virginia border at the crossroads of I-81 and I-26 near the geographic center of the Eastern U.S. This city of 50,000 in a metro of 308,000, was planned by renowned American planner John Nolen in his office at Harvard Square. Located in the lush green foothills of the Tennessee Valley, it is surrounded by the Southern Highlands and mountain lakes. Kingsport is home to Marriott’s www.MeadowViewResort.com and thousands of acres of unique, natural amenities at Bays Mountain and Warriors Path Parks. The natural geography provides a temperate, well-balanced climate with four seasons and a natural shelter from extreme weather. Population growth has also been well-balanced, ensuring you will not outgrow your decision to relocate. With no personal property taxes, special assessments, or state income taxes on salaries/wages, you’ll find that Kingsport has a very low cost of living coupled with an exceptionally high quality of life (see for yourself at www.BestPlaces.net). The regional airport (TRI) has direct flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Orlando and St. Pete/Clearwater with easy access, parking, and virtually no security lines. The public education system was planned by Columbia University and Newsweek has repeatedly recognized the local high school as one of the best in America. Year in and year out our graduates go on to the top colleges and universities (and without costly private school tuition fees). Harvard also recognized Kingsport in 2009 with the Innovations in American Government Award for its higher education initiative. What are you waiting for? It’s time to leave the high costs, traffic jams, and stress behind and discover this hidden gem.