BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Sullivan County commissioners approved a resolution Thursday night making it clear they do not want the county to join a regional economic development hub.

The County Commission voted 22-1-1 on the resolution expressing its desire to neither contribute financially nor earn membership to the Northeast Tennessee Regional Hub, or NetnHUB.

The resolution, “denies any inclusionary steps within any regionalism framework or any related naming that inserts Sullivan County as a member.”

Nineteen commissioners had already signed onto the resolution prior to the meeting.

Commissioner Hershel Glover, who drafted the resolution, said he’s concerned about the inclusion of businesses and other non-elected entities in the regional partnership.

Ballad Health, Bank of Tennessee, Bristol Motor Speedway, East Tennessee State University and Eastman Chemical company have collectively committed about $1 million to the project.

“What we are against is a group of five businesses with no accountability, trying to take over economic development for Sullivan county,” said Glover.

County Mayor Richard Venable, who has been a proponent of regionalism, said the resolution was, “born out of fear.”

He told News Channel 11 that there is no proposal before the commission to join the Hub yet.

“I don’t know if we anticipate one or not, because it’s still a work in progress,” Venable said.

Commissioner Joseph McMurray cast the sole vote against the resolution. He wishes the commission had waited for a formal proposal from NetnHUB before taking a stance.

“I think it would be important, especially if they’re putting money on the table, that we don’t, we don’t just shun them, or they at least hear what they have to say,” McMurray said.

He said he worries the plan could divide Sullivan County from the rest of the region, but Glover said he’s not concerned.

“I don’t feel like we’re gonna be on an island,” Glover said. “If anything, I think we’re going to be in the driver’s seat. It shows companies that we’re strong. It shows that we’re strong and willing to work with them.”

NetnHUB said in a statement that they were disappointed in the commission’s decision, but “this is more a bump in the road than a roadblock.”

While we are disappointed the commission declined to learn the current facts of the situation before acting, this is more a bump in the road than a roadblock. Today the hub brought on two additional economic development professionals and just short of $300,000 in additional funding. This increased capacity will allow us to accelerate our short-term action plan. Regardless of the naysayers, the results we produce will demonstrate the value the commission tonight chose to ignore.

NetnHUB Statement