Progress toward regionalism? Learn more Wednesday as WJHL takes a deep dive


(WJHL) – What is regionalism, and if you’re a busy mom of school-aged kids, why should you care? News Channel 11 and aim to answer those questions for you this week.

The area’s two main economic development organizations are collaborating and even discussing a possible merger. People are raising questions about whether Northeast Tennessee has too many counties. Some of the area’s largest organizations have begun using an unofficial (so far) regional brand — Appalachian Highlands. And area leaders continue grappling with demographic data showing a region that’s clearly not reaching its growth potential.

News Channel 11 has frequently reported on these and other elements of regionalism as they’ve occurred. Wednesday, we’ll take a deeper look at a topic that’s not always easy to define.

In-depth stories will be on our website by mid-day Wednesday. We’ll cover the topic extensively in our 5 p.m. newscast.

We’re devoting our 5:30 p.m. newscast to a Town Hall featuring four local leaders. Our anchors will discuss regionalism with Clay Walker and Mitch Miller, the CEOs of NETWORKS-Sullivan County and NeTREP — the area’s two largest economic development organizations.

During the same half hour, Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable and Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy will visit the studio for a conversation about regionalism from the local government perspective. The Town Hall can be viewed live over the air or at

We’ll continue with more coverage during the 6 p.m. broadcast, and for those who may not have time Wednesday evening, our written and video coverage will be accessible on-demand at our website. When the dust settles, we’re confident you’ll have a better idea of why people like Eastman Chemical CEO Mark Costa have jumped on the regionalism bandwagon — and you’ll feel better equipped to draw your own conclusions.

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