September 16, 2009
Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Institute Recognizes Kingsport Efforts to Revitalize Community through Education
Kingsport, TN – The Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and
Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard
University on Monday night (September 14) announced that Kingsport,
Tennessee was a 2009 Innovations in American Government Award winner.
A delegation from the city was on hand to receive the award led by
representatives of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Northeast State
Community College and various business and civic leaders.
“This is absolutely amazing, and I’m not sure that we realize the
significance and importance of winning this,” said Mayor Dennis
Phillips. “It is going to draw attention to not only Kingsport, but to
the entire state of Tennessee as far as higher education goes. This
really goes to show you what you can do if two things happen — you
don’t have to worry about who gets the credit because there is enough
credit to go around, and second, this BMA has continued on the course
that was set out by previous BMAs,” Phillips said.
“This is not the end. This is the middle of what’s going to come in
higher education in Kingsport. I think we set an example for the entire
state of Tennessee and the nation to follow.” Congressman Phil Roe was
on hand at the awards ceremony, held at the historic Decatur House in
Washington, D.C., to present city officials with a Congressional Record
entry recognizing the accomplishment.
“Kingsport is fortunate to have private citizens, community
organizations, and elected officials who understand that the only
limitation on a community’s economic potential is the quality of the
local workforce,” Kingsport City Manager John Campbell said. “Access to
higher education not only unlocks a community’s economic potential in
the short term, but ensures society’s continuing success in future
“Instead of traditional tax incentives, Kingsport has revitalized its
economy by making its workforce more competitive,” said Stephen
Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program
at Harvard Kennedy School. “They recognized that today’s high school
diploma does not adequately prepare students for the challenges of the
global economy. Cities across the country can learn from Kingsport’s
work in revamping curricula, building new infrastructure, and
developing creative partnerships.”
Started in 1999, the program is one of six government initiatives
honored at Monday night’s awards reception in Washington, D.C. and will
receive a grant towards sharing its innovation with other jurisdictions
around the country. The event concluded with the premier of 2009
Visionaries, a PBS-produced documentary highlighting this year’s
Innovations winners. To view this video click here.
The Ash Institute describes the Innovations in American Governance
Award as "a significant force in recognizing and promoting excellence
creativity in the public sector. Through its annual awards competition,
the Program provides concrete evidence that government can work to
improve the quality of life for citizens and that it deserves greater
public trust. By highlighting exemplary models of governments’
innovative performance, the Program serves as a catalyst for continued
progress in addressing the nation’s most pressing public concerns."
To recieve this award, Kingsport presented achievements in the Higher Education program and
developments in educational policy over the past 10 years and
emphasized the improvements in the economic and educational base since
implementation of programs such as the Educate and Grow scholarship
program and the creation of the Regional Center for Applied
Technology. These initiatives have been fundemental to the
revitalization of the downtown area and have produced more jobs, higher
property values, and most importantly a more educated citizenry and
Under the Educate and Grow plan, city of Kingsport officials
collaborated with various partners to develop and finance a host of new
programs to enhance academic outcomes of Kingsport students and build a
more qualified workforce.
K-14: A first in the nation, the city’s K-14 program extends
public high school by an optional two years to provide students with
additional training and technical skills requested by local employers.
Dual Enrollment: Through established partnerships with the
area’s local colleges, high school students now have the opportunity to
take college-level classes and receive both college and high school
credit for their work.
Scholarships: Any Kingsport high school graduate is eligible for
a four-semester scholarship at the city’s Northeast State Technical
Community College. Such funding allows students to earn a two-year
associate’s degree or transfer credits towards a four-year bachelor’s
Curriculum: Officials have developed new areas of medical and
technical study at the college level that better reflect the growing
number of industries in the region along with attracting new
Kingsport underwent a series of infrastructure enhancements,
building an “academic village” in close proximity to the city’s
business center. Officials project the new building plans will increase
the downtown student population to 2,500 over the next few years.
Regional Center for Applied Technology (RCAT): Launched in 2002
as a branch of Northeast State Community College, RCAT offers high
school graduates and continuing education students courses in computer
science and information technology; office administration; business
management; and on-demand industry-specific job training.
Regional Center for Health Professionals: In addition to
enhancing the technology skills of Kingsport’s labor force, the city
opened the Regional Center for Health Professionals in 2008 to draw new
health care opportunities to the region. Students can earn two-year
degrees in medical technology and nursing.
Kingsport Center for Higher Education: Opened this August, the
Center offer courses towards associate up to doctoral degrees through a
unique partnership with five local colleges and universities.
Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing: This public-private
partnership between the State of Tennessee, Northeast State, and two of
Kingsport’s largest manufacturers, Eastman Chemical and Domtar Paper
Mill, will offer certifications and associate of applied science
programs in electrical, fabrication, and chemical process technologies.
Automotive Technology Center: A fifth facility, scheduled to
open in the fall of 2010, will be dedicated to state-of-the-art
automotive technology training programs.
Kingsport’s Educate and Grow initiative cites much success in bringing
new industry to the region and improving the skills of its workforce.
Industry Diversification: Formerly dependent solely on the
manufacturing industry, the greater Kingsport region now reports a more
diversified economy including new jobs in healthcare (8,000),
hospitality (5,000), construction (3,900), professional services
(2,500), and information technology (600).
Sales Tax Revenues: Sales tax revenues have increased by nearly $950,000 since 2005, and property values are increasing.
Investment: The city cites an increase of $370 million in new
construction since 2006 including 12 new restaurants and regional
Population: 2,700 families have moved to Kingsport over the last
two years, and the city is experiencing an increase in young adults
aged 20-24. The number of residents earning college degrees has
increased by 2 percent.
Photographs by: Tony Brown
To view the video of the 2009 Award Winners click here
To view an overview of the finalists click here.
To view the video of the May 27th, 2009 finalist presentation click here.