Posted on February 18, 2004
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Congressman Bill Jenkins (R-TN) today applauded the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on its decision to keep Bristol, TN, and Bristol, VA, as well as Washington County, VA, in the same Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) with Kingsport. The decision follows a request from Frist, Alexander, Jenkins, and their Virginia colleagues to re-examine its original decision to divide the Tri-Cities region into three separate MSAs, which raised local concerns about possible adverse consequences. OMB also agreed to allow the entire region to be called the "Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol (Tri-Cities) TN-VA Combined Statistical Area." "I'm pleased that the Office of Management and Budget has finally given the green light to put Bristol, TN, and Bristol, VA, as well as Washington County, VA, back into the same MSA," said Frist. "This decision will have a positive impact on economic planning purposes in the Tri-Cities, and I applaud OMB's willingness to be cooperative and carefully examine the uniqueness of the situation. Today's announcement will ensure that business and civic leaders in the Tri-Cities can continue to work together for the greater economic good of the region." "I applaud OMB's decision to encourage unity of the Tri-Cities," Alexander said. "I've heard from concerned Tennesseans about the possible impact of MSA changes—-on economic development, planning, and other joint efforts in the region. This is good news for Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia." "I am glad to see that the Office of Management and Budget concurred with our common sense assessment regarding our metropolitan region," said Jenkins. "Since the OMB contacted me about their plans to review the designations after the last census, I have worked with my colleagues and local officials to make certain that the changes would not adversely affect our region. I am also pleased to see that the Tri-Cities title was added to the official designation." The response comes after a recent meeting with OMB officials on the establishment of new MSAs and CSAs across the nation. All three offices, and the office of Congressman Rick Boucher (D-VA), expressed concern to OMB that the new definitions to divide the Tri-Cities region into three separate MSAs instead of one, would adversely impact local economies. The re-evaluation now establishes the Tri-Cities region as one MSA.