Miller says Carter County sees big return on investment from NeTREP

John Thompson • May 13, 2019 at 10:38 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Mitch Miller, chief executive officer of the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership, conducted some damage control Monday night after the Budget Committee of the Carter County Commission discussed cutting in half the county’s annual contribution to NeTREP.

Miller appeared before the committee Monday night to discuss the ways in which NeTREP provides a sound return on investment to Carter County. He also told the committee he would be happy to make reports from time to time during the year on the economic progress being made by NeTREP for Carter County.

Last week, the Carter County Budget Commission discussed cutting the county’s NeTREP contribution from $40,000 to $20,000.

Miller said the economic partnership is made up of governments in Washington, Unicoi and Carter counties. He said most of the funding comes from Washington County and Johnson City. He said Washington County provides $220,248 this year. Johnson City provides $151,206. Unicoi County provides $50,000 and Elizabethton provides $35,000.

Miller said Carter County has been donating $40,000 to its economic development organization for many years. For many years that $40,000 went to Carter County Tomorrow, but when Carter County became part of the partnership, the annual $40,000 donation was changed from Cart3er County Tomorrow to NeTREP.

As far as return on investment, Miller told the committee that the partnership has provided support to several existing businesses. He said these include the recent 100,000 square-foot expansion of A.Y. McDonald in the Watauga Industrial Park.

Miller said NeTREP assisted in securing a Tennessee Economic and Community Development incentive of $250,000 and Tennessee Valley Authority incentives to help make the $8 million expansion possible.

Miller said that 100,000 square-foot expansion will result in 36 new jobs and will mean a $24,700 annual real property tax revenue increase and $35,000 personal property tax revenue increase.

That totaled an additional $59,700 in additional revenue going into the general fund. In addition, he said the additional jobs will result in an increase in payroll of $2.5 million.

In other successes, Miller said NeTREP assisted in the recruitment of the Allied Dispatch Solutions call center to the Borla complex in Okolona, which has resulted in over 400 jobs.

On a smaller scale, he said the new Riverside Taphouse benefited from $3,000 in startup money from the Johnson City Development Authority.

Miller said the partnership has also been promoting Carter County’s outdoor recreation assets, including its mountains, hiking and waterfalls. He called Roan Mountain the “crown jewel” of the region.

In other matters, the committee heard good news about its employee medical insurance. After obtaining an insurance broker, the county will see a big savings in insurance costs next year.

If the county remains with Blue Cross and Blue Shield, its should see a 10 percent decline in costs. That would amount to a savings of $202,867. That is about 3 cents on the property tax rate.

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