School system gives a preview of Viking Academy

Originally posted at Bristol Herald Courier.

BRISTOL, Tenn. – A little more than six months after a vacant car dealership was donated to the Bristol Tennessee school system for use as a career and technical center, faculty from Tennessee High School provided a preview Friday of what will be called Viking Academy to members of the School Board, City Council and representatives from the Tennessee Department of Education.

Viking Academy will be located inside the old Friendship Ford building on Volunteer Parkway, which was donated to the Bristol Tennessee Schools by Mitch Walters and his family. Walters donated the facility to the school system in September of 2021.

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Construction of new work-based learning center underway in Bristol

Originally posted at WJHL.com.

BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – Construction of the “Friendship Career Center” that will house a local high school’s new work-based-learning program is underway in Bristol.

On Friday, News Channel 11 got to take a look inside the construction zone.

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Council meets with Advance Bristol over corridor between The Pinnacle and State

Originally posted at Bristol Herald Courier.

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Members of the Advance Bristol organization held discussions with the Bristol Tennessee City Council on Thursday about the possibility of collaborating on various projects including plans to revitalize the State Street corridor from The Pinnacle to Volunteer Parkway.

Back in December of 2021, the Bristol Tennessee City Council applied for a grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) in order to finance a study with hopes of rebuilding and reconnecting Bristol, Tennessee from The Pinnacle to the casino and downtown. Tom Beavers, the director of development services for Bristol, Tennessee, explained what the study consists of and what follows once the study has been completed.

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Advance Bristol debuts with $25,000 contribution for downtown speaker project

Originally posted at Kingsport Times News.

BRISTOL — The Advance Bristol Foundation is ready to enhance downtown Bristol through a recent $25,000 contribution.

Advance Bristol recently awarded the $25,000 to Believe in Bristol to help fund the installation of a speaker system downtown. A press release from Advance Bristol said the $70,000 project is being subsidized via an additional $25,000 provided by Believe in Bristol, $5,000 each from Bristol, Tennessee, and Bristol, Virginia, and $10,000 from Main Street program grants and other private investors.

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New collaborative org, Advance Bristol, tackles Bristol projects

Originally posted at Bristol Herald Courier.

BRISTOL, Va. — Music will soon fill the streets of downtown Bristol thanks to a collaborative effort of local organizations, governments and the Advance Bristol Foundation, a new nonprofit organization established to foster economic growth and community development in the Twin City.

On Thursday, a coalition of local leaders from the private sector gathered at the Michael Waltrip Brewing Co. in Bristol, Virginia to introduce Advance Bristol. The new organization plans to work collaboratively on a variety of projects with Believe in Bristol, the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, local governments and community business and industry leaders. Advance Bristol encourages the private sector to provide financial support and partner with the public sector to execute projects that benefit Bristol’s economic viability and overall appeal.

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New Advance Bristol Foundation unveils development initiatives, community partnerships

Originally posted on WCYB.com.

BRISTOL, Tenn. — A coalition of local leaders gathered Thursday evening to introduce the Advance Bristol Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to promote economic growth and community development in Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia.

“In collaboration with Believe in Bristol, Bristol Chamber of Commerce, local governments, and community business and industry, Advance Bristol encourages the private sector to provide financial support and partner with the public sector to execute projects that benefit Bristol’s economic viability and overall appeal,” officials said.

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Advance Bristol Unveils Economic Development Initiatives and Community Partnerships, Contributes $25,000 for Downtown Project

BRISTOL, Tenn. — A coalition of local leaders from the private sector gathered Thursday evening to introduce the Advance Bristol Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to foster economic growth and community development in Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia. 

In collaboration with Believe in Bristol, Bristol Chamber of Commerce, local governments, and community business and industry, Advance Bristol encourages the private sector to provide financial support and partner with the public sector to execute projects that benefit Bristol’s economic viability and overall appeal. 

“Advance Bristol’s mission is to engage innovative leaders who are willing to unite in a collaborative spirit to advance the growth and development of Bristol,” said Advance Bristol Chairman David Wagner. “Bristol is indeed ‘A Good Place to Live,’ and we want to work with our community partners to strengthen our cities, both for those who are here now and for generations to come.”

Advance Bristol’s short-term objectives are to:

  • expand educational programming and workforce development; 
  • pursue additional greenspace and common gathering areas in downtown Bristol;
  • create a façade improvement grant program; and
  • establish and develop art and cultural districts, among other goals.

Potential long-term projects for the organization include:

  • additional downtown parking opportunities;
  • a world-class indoor sports complex; 
  • downtown street arch placement and interstate gateway(s) signage;
  • a redesign of West State Street;
  • new programs and services for the homeless population;
  • investment in new housing developments; and 
  • a broadening of opportunities to use Bristol’s natural resources and outdoor activities.

Advance Bristol’s debut featured a $25,000 contribution to Believe in Bristol, which will help fund installation of a speaker system in downtown Bristol. The $70,000 project is being subsidized via an additional $25,000 provided by Believe in Bristol, $5,000 each from Bristol, Tennessee, and Bristol, Virginia, and $10,000 from Main Street program grants and other private investors. 

The system will enable music to be played in the downtown area during regular business hours and will span the length of State Street, from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Commonwealth Avenue and Volunteer Parkway, with additional coverage on adjacent side streets. 

Installation of the speaker system is planned to begin in a few weeks, and project officials are hopeful that phase one work will be complete and ready for use during the holiday season. The project is expected to be completed by early spring 2022. 

“The idea for the speaker system stemmed from input that our downtown merchants received from shoppers during the holiday season,” said Believe in Bristol Executive Director Maggie Elliott. “The only thing missing from our annual Christmas Open House has been music playing on the sidewalks and streets, so we feel that this project will positively benefit our community and greatly enhance our existing arts and entertainment district.”

Advance Bristol also served as a key partner in the creation of Viking Academy, an off-site, work-based learning program for Tennessee High School and Tennessee Middle School students. Announced in September 2021, the academy will be located at the Friendship Career Center, a more than 24,000-square-foot facility in Bristol, Tennessee, and include automotive, MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) and agriculture programs, and serve as an extension of the school system’s existing Career Technical Education (CTE) program.

In Partnership with Advance Bristol, Friendship Automotive Enterprises Donates $2.8 Million Facility to Bristol Tennessee City Schools

This is the first major gift associated with Advance Bristol,” stated Mitch Walters, Advance Bristol board member and Friendship Automotive Enterprises president and CEO. “Advance Bristol is a newly formed economic and community development foundation that encourages the private sector to provide financial support and collaborate with the public sector on great projects such as Viking Academy.”


BRISTOL, Tenn.—September 1, 2021—The Mitch Walters family and Friendship Automotive Enterprises announced today that it is donating its more than 24,000 square foot facility located at 1855 Volunteer Parkway to Bristol Tennessee City Schools (BTCS) to expand educational and workforce development opportunities for students in Bristol Tennessee City Schools. 

The site will serve as the future location of the Friendship Career Center, which will house Viking Academy, an off-site, work-based learning program for Tennessee High School and Tennessee Middle School students. The Viking Academy programs, which will include automotive, MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing), and agriculture, will be an extension of the existing Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. 

“We know there is a great need for skilled workers in our region; including automotive technicians,” said Mitch Walters, president and CEO of Friendship Automotive Enterprises. “We are very proud of this partnership and excited about this opportunity to help the next generation have the very best career opportunities possible. Danea and I raised our family in Bristol and both of our sons graduated from Tennessee High School. They had a wonderful childhood growing up in our city and received an excellent education. It is an honor for us to give back to a school system that gave us so much.”

In May, BTCS was the recipient of a grant for a new Innovative High School Model program. The state grants are intended to foster local community partnerships that boost student readiness and prepare students for jobs and careers in their local communities. According to the Tennessee Department of Education, the goal of the Innovative High School Models program is to encourage strong, strategic and innovative partnerships between Tennessee public school districts, postsecondary education institutions and local employers to reimagine how to prepare students for success after high school. 

“The donation of this facility from Walters family and Friendship Enterprises is a monumental step in our commitment to provide access to high-quality, relevant programs to all students, regardless of their career paths,” said Annette Tudor, director of schools for Bristol Tennessee City Schools. “On behalf of our students, families and school board, I offer my sincere gratitude. Our students will now have access to even more programs to prepare them to succeed in high-demand careers, which will mean a brighter, more secure future for them and our entire Bristol community.” 

“The Tennessee High Viking Academy program has the support of a dedicated administrator and career coach who will collaborate with all stakeholders to develop Academic Career Plans for students. This customized planning will address student interests and aptitude, hard and soft skill gaps, and barriers to equitable access for students,” said Deidre Pendley, CTE director for Bristol Tennessee City Schools. “There will be opportunities for extensive career exploration with strong family directed involvement, high-quality traditional and CTE coursework, industry credentials, early post-secondary opportunities, work-based learning experiences, and pre-apprenticeship opportunities. Our goal is to provide high-quality CTE programs to prepare a skilled workforce in a variety of high-wage, in-demand, and/or growing careers available in our Bristol area.” 


Additional Media Coverage

Bristol Herald-Courier

Former Friendship dealership to transition to Tennessee High School vocational center

WJHL

Friendship Automotive donates facility to Bristol Tennessee City Schools for work-based learning