Tri-Cities among lowest unemployment rate in Tennessee: economic growth in our region

PHOTO: Samantha Zarek

TRI-CITIES, Tenn. - Tennessee's unemployment rate remains lower than that of the nation. The unemployment rate in the Tri-Cities is also among the lowest in the state. Kingsport Chamber of Commerce CEO, Miles Burdine says health care, manufacturing, service, and aerospace are among booming industries in our area. A main factor in what got them here is successful recruitment.

"Recruiting people is an economic development effort, recruiting business is an economic development effort, helping small businesses to grow is an economic development effort," Burdine says.

These are just some of the reasons Burdine says our area is attractive to business owners.

"Not having a state income tax is very important to businesses. The fact that we are a low tax region, and a low tax state is very important," he says.

Education, quality of life, and economic growth potential are factors that Burdine says businesses consider when choosing the Tri-Cities.

"Low unemployment rate...while that's a good thing, it's also a risky thing because we've also got to have the work force that's available for these companies as they want to grow, as they continue to consider moving here," he says.

It's a similar story in Johnson City, where CEO of Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership, Mitch Miller, says maintaining a work force is key.

"As we have an aging population in some of our rural communities, a lot of those folks are retiring, and actually going out of the labor force, so that's one of the things that we've been focused on, attracting new talent to the area," Miller says.

Programs like "talent connect" give students at colleges up to five hours away the opportunity to experience what Johnson City has to offer after college.

"See what it's like to live here, connect with our young professional groups, meet HR managers, companies that are looking at expanding, hiring," Miller says.

Miller says recruiting young professionals helps establish and maintain a strong work force for more economic development.

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