What happened at the Kingsport Chamber dinner?

Hank Hayes • Feb 3, 2018 at 8:00 AM

KINGSPORT — The “Kingsport Spirit,” defined by founding father J. Fred Johnson, was celebrated Friday night at the Kingsport Chamber 71st Annual Dinner.

What the event was about:

Hosted at the MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center, the so-called “Nation’s No. 1 Party Band” — Party on the Moon — entertained another sellout crowd of more than 1,700 at “Kingsport’s Social Event of the Year.”

Who sponsored the event?

Eastman Chemical Co. served as title sponsor, and WJHL News Channel 11/ABC Tri-Cities was the host sponsor. Holston Valley Medical Center presented the entertainment; Eastman Credit Union served as concert hall and stage sponsor; Appalachian Power, Chef’s Pizzeria, East Coast Wings & Grill and WorkSpace Interiors were the associate sponsors; and Food City was the printing sponsor.

The chamber says the event remains the largest chamber annual dinner in the nation. Celebrating the Kingsport Spirit was the theme for the evening’s affair.

“We have so much to be thankful for in this community,” said 2017 Kingsport Chamber Chair Stephen LaHair, co-owner of Chef’s Pizzeria and KAOS Investments. “We are so blessed to call Kingsport our home … a great place with great people who care deeply about their neighbors and this community. And what a remarkable year this city enjoyed. The list of highlights is staggering.”

“Excellence and execution … Kingsport continues to excel to new levels every year,” said 2018 Kingsport Chamber Chair Bob Feathers, president of WorkSpace Interiors and owner of East Coast Wings & Grill. “And 2018 looks even more promising as we continue to build on the many accomplishments we enjoyed last year.”

Kingsport commemorated its 100th birthday last year with a yearlong celebration of events and activities to honor the city’s history and plan for her future.

What were some of last year’s accomplishments?

To mark Kingsport’s centennial, city leaders cut the ribbon on Centennial Park, a “legacy” park on Main Street. The $1.9 million, 33,000-square-foot park features a circular history walk highlighting Kingsport’s history by decades, attractive landscaping, an interactive fountain at the center of the park and the “Spirit of Giving” Santa Train sculpture.

Kingsport issued 418 residential permits and 133 commercial building permits for a combined value of $115.4 million in fiscal year 2017. Residential development grew in value of construction by about 15.3 percent during the year, according to the chamber. There were 86 new single family housing starts valued at $20.6 million. Average construction cost was around $240,200 per unit.

The city purchased 14 acres of the General Shale property that adjoins Brickyard Park. The vision for this piece of land is a multipurpose entertainment venue. The adjoining 24 acres of the General Shale property is owned by the Kingsport Economic Development Board (KEDB) and could be a residential development. In addition to being a boon for downtown and creating new business opportunities, the estimated economic impact on Kingsport for this project and associated events would exceed $50 million each year, according to the chamber.

The proposed merger between Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System became official, and the merged system, Ballad Health, opened for business on Feb. 1.

NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership announced the creation of 587 new jobs in new and existing industry and $90 million in capital investment for the region.

The Blake at Kingsport broke ground on its $22 million assisted living and memory care community with 118 apartments. The Blake will feature resort-style amenities such as chef-prepared meals and world-class wellness services including on site outpatient therapy. When fully occupied, The Blake at Kingsport anticipates creating 70 jobs.

The city and KEDB broke ground on Town Park Lofts, a major residential development on the seven-acre Supermarket Row property downtown. Developed by Georgia-based Crossgate Partners, the $32 million upscale housing project will be the “largest residential investment in Kingsport history.” The city projects Town Park Lofts will have a $48.3 million economic impact (including a $1.7 million retail impact) on the community and will create more than 400 jobs. Town Park Lofts will include a four-story building with a variety of one- and two-bedroom apartments (263 in total) designed in a horseshoe shape over seven acres and will feature a resort-style swimming pool, clubhouse, fitness center, Wi-Fi connectivity, and 8,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, among other first-class amenities. The project is expected to be completed this year.

Programs of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce include: Communications & Development; Government Relations; and Membership. The Kingsport Chamber of Commerce has nearly 1,000 members.