BY RICH JONES
ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR
The Greene County Partnership (GCP) celebrated its 20th anniversary on Thursday evening at the General Morgan Inn while recognizing the past year's achievements and looking ahead to the coming year with a new slate of officers.
Outgoing chairman Chuck Whitfield, president and CEO of Laughlin Memorial Hospital, handed the ceremonial gavel to incoming chairman Bill Carroll, general manager of the Greeneville Light & Power System.
Tom Ferguson, president and CEO of the GCP, gave a brief summary of highlights from the past year that included:
* aiding 13 companies in receiving tax incentives and training dollars that will help create nearly 500 jobs over the next three years;
* working with the Industrial Development Board to establish a re-use plan for the old Walmart building on East Andrew Johnson Highway where a new Food City supermarket is scheduled to open to the public on Feb. 27;
* attending a reception in Atlanta with Gov. Bill Haslam to host 20 site selection consultants and national real estate brokers; and
* formalizing a Manufacturers' Council under the leadership of Scott Crawford, American Greetings plant manager, which resulted in four meaningful meetings with more than 25 companies coming together to discuss and exchange ideas on Best Practices.
Other highlights cited by Ferguson included assisting WJHL-TV 11 as the station's personnel spent several weeks filming local attractions for a one-hour Daytime Tri-Cities "Our Town" broadcast from the terrace of the General Morgan Inn.
"We got a lot of mileage out of that," Ferguson reported.
In June, the GCP played a prominent role in the filming of a Buick television commercial featuring NFL quarterback and former University of Tennessee star Peyton Manning.
A crew of more than 75 was involved in that project and spent a week in Greeneville during the filming.
The Partnership in 2012 hosted the NAIA Women's Golf National Championships, which resulted in a 65 percent increase in lodging tax and a 9 percent increase in local sales tax revenue, according to the GCP's annual report to members.
The GCP also hosted the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Golf National Championships at Link Hills Country club.
In September, the Partnership launched the tourism website, VisitGreenevilleTN.com
Ferguson reported that the GCP supported the Career Pathways Initiative being developed through the Workforce Education Committee by facilitating discussion with local manufacturing leaders and educators.
BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
"Greene County is blessed with industries and businesses that step forward in support of community endeavors," Ferguson said. "One such company exemplifies the meaning of 'good corporate citizen."'
In 2012 alone, Ferguson said this company alone donated more than 130 televisions to groups and businesses for fundraising efforts, donated more than $14,000 in pet food to area animal shelters, gave more than $19,000 in product to local non-profit organizations, and is a major contributor to Second Harvest, donating tons of food each year.
"We salute Wal-Mart Logistics and all of its associates for their dedication and service," Ferguson said.
Accepting the Business of the Year Award was Ted Ridout, general manager of Walmart Distribution Center.
CHAMPION OF THE YEAR
In introducing the 2012 Champion of the Year award-winner, Ferguson said the person selected is a native Greene Countian who grew up in the shadow of the old St. James High School.
"Much like 'Tiny' Day (former sports editor of The Greeneville Sun), his name has become synonymous with sports in this community," Ferguson said.
"For 41 years, Wayne Phillips has kept us informed, initially in the news department of The Greeneville Sun, and later in local and state sports arenas.
"I guess it's hard to break old habits," Ferguson told the crowd, "because, despite the fact that he claims he has retired, you can still find Wayne covering sports events or traveling to state meetings to keep Greene County 'on the map' in athletics.
"Congratulations, Wayne Phillips, on an outstanding career, and thank you so much for being a champion representative for this community," Ferguson said.
The Partnership's staff decided this year to honor those members who have had the longest continuous membership with the Greene County Partnership and its precursor organization, the Greeneville-Greene County Area Chamber of Commerce.
There were three honorees, and all of them started their membership in 1967.
Receiving awards were:
* Greeneville Insurance/Andrew Johnson Insurance Services, Brian Click;
* Greene County Fair Association, Bobby Holt; and
* Marsh Petroleum, Sonny Marsh, chairman, and Chris Marsh, president.
PAST CHAIRMEN HONORED
Also this year, the Partnership chose to honor its past chairmen. Those present for the recognition were Scott Niswonger, Bill Carroll, Sam Miller, Morris Turpin, Tony Nix, Al Giles, Drucilla Miller, Shane Hite, Randy Rumbley, Chuck Whitfield and Bob Grubbs.
LEAVING THE BOARD
Incoming GCP chairman Carroll thanked those members who are leaving the board of directors: Randy Rumbley, Brian Click, Bob Leonard, Bob Grubbs and Lisa Crum.
Welcomed to the Partnerhsip's board of directors by Carroll were Jeff Hollett, Cal Doty, Watson Leonard, Mark Douthat, Jason Brandon and Brett Purgason.