City of Kingsport Announces Innovation Village Partnership with Sync Space, Create Appalachia, and Other Local Businesses

Kingsport - November, 2021

City of Kingsport announces Innovation Village, partnership with Create Appalachia, others to create Kingsport Center for Digital Innovation

KINGSPORT, TENNESSEE – The City of Kingsport announces Innovation Village at the center of downtown Kingsport and commitment to support the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, remote workforce, creators and innovators. 

Innovation Village, adjacent Kingsport Academic Village, reflects a strategic vision to position Kingsport as the advanced manufacturing innovation hub of Central Appalachia, an entrepreneurial sandbox for creators and inventors, and a community center for training a digital workforce.

“Kingsport is a city built on innovation and a workforce that supports the region’s manufacturing industry.” states Kingsport Mayor Pat Shull, “Expanding Innovation Village to include a digital technology center is key to providing opportunities for students and the public to learn new skills, and is a welcomed addition to our city’s culture of leadership in advanced manufacturing.”

The strategy for Innovation Village started in 2017, as a multi-phase endeavor to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem and growing number of remote workers. The Inventor Center, the first phase of Innovation Village, was opened in 2018, with a $540,000 grant from the city to create the region’s premier maker-space and prototyping center. Designed to be a community center for the region and include a combination of tools and equipment for both inventors and those looking to gain new skills, the Inventor Center continues growing with now over 80 monthly members of makers, hobbyist and entrepreneurs.  

The phase two announcement of the Center for Digital Innovation includes a 9,000 square foot digital media center in partnership with Create Appalachia, the region’s leading organization promoting the traditional and digital artists of Appalachia. This partnership includes a $430,000 contribution to the center by Create Appalachia as part of an Appalachian Regional Commission grant received to expand access and opportunity to the arts for entrepreneurs and creators of central Appalachia.

Create Appalachia | Where Art Means Business

“When you think about designing a product or visualizing an idea, it starts with digital design.” says Cher Cornett, President of Create Appalachia and professor at ETSU’s department of digital media, “At the Center for Digital Innovation, we are adding equipment, technology and training opportunities for the community to learn the new digital tools of manufacturing, creativity and the arts.”

Included in the center will be a digital computer lab and training room fully equipped and focused on skills that are sought by regional manufacturers and employers, and are aligned with the Kingsport City Schools system and Higher Education partners. 

“Access to this level of technology and training is very expensive and can be a non-starter for many entrepreneurs and creators, especially when you consider traditionally under-represented and minority populations.” states Heath Guinn, President of Sync Space Entrepreneur Center, “A central focus of this center is the removal of those historical barriers and creating accessibility and programs for all members of our community.”

The center includes photography and videography studios, large format printers and home to a large gallery, events space and technology enabled conference room. Also, tech enabled co-working spaces and private offices are available for rent to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The announcement of Innovation Village is sponsored with a group of regional partners with aligned focus in education, entrepreneurship and workforce development. Initial supporters include Create Appalachia, ETSU Research Corporation, Kingsport Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Northeast State Community College and the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Sync Space Entrepreneur Center.

The Center for Digital Innovation is located at 255 E Center Street in downtown Kingsport, with a ribbon cutting ceremony and opening date to be announced soon. For more information please visit www.innovationvillagekpt.com and contact: 

John Rose

Economic Development Director, City of Kingsport

johnrose@kingsporttn.gov, (423) 426-3524

Cher Cornett

President, Create Appalachia

cher@createappalachia.org, (423) 388-1734

Heath Guinn 

President, Sync Space Entrepreneur Center

heath@syncspace.org, (423) 676-7228

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Create Appalachia is a 501(c)3 who’s goal is to make the Appalachian Highlands a better place to live and work through innovation and entrepreneurship centered around the arts. We work to support an environment that will generate new businesses that provide jobs in the arts, and encourage graduates from our colleges and universities to stay in our community. We want to help grow a strong, 21st century creative industry in Northeast Tennessee.

Sync Space Entrepreneur Centers is a 501(c)3 and the Launch Tennessee partner for northeast Tennessee. Sync Space programs range from early idea validation and workshops, to accelerator programs uniquely focused on support for local and recruited startups considering northeast Tennessee as a place to grow or expand their business. Sync Space programming aligns startups with key partners and industries that offer mentorship, opportunity for investment, and pilot program opportunities. To learn more about Sync Space Entrepreneur Center, visit: https://syncspace.org

A central focus of this center is the removal of those historical barriers and creating accessibility and programs for all members of our community.

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