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INSIDE: Governor Haslam Returns Home pg. 51 + Monthly Economic Indicators pg. 50


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Top Achievers are recognized for their countless volunteer hours and dedication to the Ambassador Program’s mission of serving as an active volunteer extension of the Knoxville Chamber to cultivate, promote, and maintain positive relationships between the Knoxville Chamber, its members, and the community.





Tune in to hear the news that impacts your business! Knoxville Chamber representatives appear live on WBIR’s Newsmaker segment every other Monday at 5 p.m. to discuss events and issues of interest to you. The next segment is scheduled to air on Monday, April 1.

CHAMBER STAFF Doug Lawyer @knoxoakridgeIV Jennifer Evans @knoxevans Kyle Touchstone @knoxecondevguy Mark Field @field101 Michelle Kiely @mkiely1


NEW MEMBERS / NEW PREMIER PARTNERS BRONZE PREMIER PARTNERS Carroll Engineering Co. (865) 859-9839 Industrial Supplies & Services/ Electrical Supplies & Services Equipment/Supplies/ Utilities & Natural Resources: Coal Integrated Management Resources, Inc. (865) 675-5901 Business & Professional Services: Business Advisors & Consultants

Cartridge World (865) 312-9456 Office Equipment, Supplies & Services: Digital Copy/Print/Fax/Scan Equip. & Ser Clear Creations Professional Window Cleaning Service (865) 406-0239 Building & Grounds Maintenance:Cleaning Services & Supplies Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (865) 583-0355 Associations & Organizations Genesis Real Estate Title, LLC. (865) 951-2691 Real Estate: Title Companies

A. G. Heins Company, Inc. (865) 525-5363 Building Materials Accurate C & S Services, Inc. (865) 481-6185 Employment, Career, & Staffing Services American Mortgage (865) 200-5446 x22 Real Estate: Mortgage Banking

Girl on the Roof (865) 742-3409 Business & Professional Services: Marketing The Grande Event Center (865) 686-3200 Event Planning, Catering, & Venues

Historic Homes of Knoxville (865) 522-8661 Attractions & Tourism InXpress (865) 776-4962 Distribution/Warehousing/Logistics:Import/ Export Assistance ISO Assessor (865) 556-8625 Business & Professional Services: Technical Services Lancaster Tree and Lawn, LLC (865) 617-1200 Building & Grounds Maintenance: Landscaping M & W Realty Properties (865) 567-5522 Construction & Contractors: General Contractors Mary Coffey - Crye-Leike, Realtors (865) 851-5473 Real Estate

Outpatient Diagnostic Center of Knoxville (865) 525-7100 Healthcare Providers & Services: Hospitals & Clinics Parsons and Wright (865) 376-5865 Business & Professional Services: Certified Public Accountants Pinnacle Solutions (865) 313-1891 Business & Professional Services: Business Advisors & Consultants Play-Rite (865) 919-2112 Construction & Contractors: Specialty Services Providence Commercial Real Estate Services (865) 777-0202 Real Estate Provision Cancer Center (865) 437-5252 Healthcare Providers & Services

Real Estate Scorecard (954) 400-8413 Real Estate: Residential

Southeast Retained Medical (865) 243-8859 Healthcare Providers & Services

Regus (865) 231-0787 Real Estate: Commercial

Sweet P’s Barbeque & Soul House (865) 247-7748 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places

Retirement Solutions (865) 547-6529 Financial Services Senior Solutions At Home (865) 539-5224 Healthcare Providers & Services: Home Health Services SM Sales and Marketing Consultants (865) 230-1622 Environmental Services & Equipment: Consultants Smoky Mountain Hospice (865) 673-3877 Healthcare Providers & Services: Home Health Services

















The Hill (865) 540-1011 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places: Bars The Sharp Companies (865) 524-5550 Construction & Contractors: General Contractors Volunteer Drywall (865) 523-3333 Construction & Contractors: Dry Wall & Painting Wellsley Park at Deane Hill Apartments

Understanding the Affordable Care Act and Its Impact on Business


2012 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that health spending in the United States is almost 90 percent higher than the majority of other developed countries. The study pointed to higher prices, more readily accessible technology, and greater obesity as the most likely causes for the higher spending. Half of this spending is being used to treat just five percent of the population and 50 million Americans are going without coverage. The federal government has developed legislation aimed at combating this trend. Enacted in March 2010 and projected to be fully implemented by January 2014, the Affordable Care Act is designed to improve the national healthcare system through coverage expansion and protection for existing policyholders. Following the Supreme Court’s June 2012 decision to uphold the legislation’s constitutionality, many of the Act’s key reforms regarding consumer protection and preventative treatment were immediately integrated into the existing system. As a result, insurance providers are now prohibited from placing lifetime or annual monetary caps on coverage, denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, and from rescinding previously approved coverage due to illness. Additionally, states were required to establish a review system for any perceived unreasonable increases in premiums and an office of health insurance consumer assistance was created to evaluate and represent the complaints of private citizens against insurance providers. Along with these consumer insurance protection provisions, enacted reforms emphasize overall wellness with the aim of lowering healthcare cost through illness prevention. Underscoring the importance of routine primary care and preventative care, the law requires insurance plans to cover screenings for conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and cancer at no cost to the consumer and established the Prevention and Public Health Fund which provides states with grants to help cover the cost of disease screenings and immunizations. Heightened consumer awareness and education also factor into these wellness efforts with the creation of the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council whose primary task is to address pervasive unhealthy behaviors among American citizens including tobacco use, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition. Other measures include requiring restaurant chains with more than 20 locations to include nutritional information on their menus and an aggressive, federallyfunded public education campaign on oral health. While these reforms have caused minimal public outcry, the most vehemently debated tenets of the bill are those slated to take affect in January

2014. The Affordable Care Act requires that any American who can afford coverage to purchase insurance by January 1, 2014, or face a tax penalty. In order to support this mandate, the law prohibits insurance providers from denying or increasing cost of coverage based upon pre-existing conditions and creates online health insurance marketplaces, also called exchanges, that provide individuals, families, and small business owners the ability to shop for health insurance online. Modeled after mainstream price comparison travel websites, exchanges will allow consumers to easily compare and purchase private insurance policies although exactly what coverage plans will offer has not been announced. Under the Affordable Care Act, state governments were given the option to run these exchange programs at a state level or participate in a federally run exchange. Tennessee opted for the latter, a decision Governor Bill Haslam feels will improve the experience for consumers. “I originally thought we could run the exchange better ourselves – smaller, closer to home is better than bigger and father away,” he said during a recent event hosted by the Chamber. “However, when we had to make our decision a couple months ago, I wasn’t comfortable that the Department of Health, Safety, and Security was prepared to traffic all the data that would need to be exchanged back and forth, so we ultimately decided that if they weren’t ready for a partnership, it would be best to let them run the exchange for now.” The other decision currently facing state governments is whether to expand their Medicaid programs to the Act’s suggested 138 percent of poverty level. the one regulation significantly changed by the Supreme Court, states are no longer at risk of losing all federal funding for existing Medicaid programs if they opt not to expand coverage. Estimating that expansion will impact 300,000 – 400,000 Tennesseans, Governor Haslam admits this decision would have a further reaching impact. “The expansion decision involves a lot of money,” he said. “Tennessee’s costs will go up either way because of the Affordable Care Act. Exchanges will alert residents who aren’t currently enrolled in Tenncare but who qualify for coverage of their eligibility and as a managed care provider, the state pays taxes based on the number of enrollees, so there’s going to be some big cost to us whether we expand or not.” Acknowledging the inherent benefits of providing more Tennesseans with healthcare coverage, Haslam also discussed the decision’s impact on the

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See “Healthcare” on pg. 46

“Healthcare” continued from pg. 45

state’s hospitals. Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, hospitals across the nation collectively reduced their rates by $155 billion in an effort to support the expansion primarily due to the additional revenue generation resulting from a larger number of insured Americans able to seek care, revenue that optional participation in Medicaid expansion has now put in jeopardy. “Participating in the exchange would also be very helpful to our hospitals,” he said. “Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, they made certain concessions because the federal government said expansion to all these people would negate the need for repayments issued for care given to indigent people. Now that states have the right to choose, hospitals are in a tight box, and we have to take into account their financial viability along with the financial impact on the state.” Executives at local hospitals affirm Haslam’s concerns. “Even though there are a lot of challenges, we think the Medicaid expansion is a good idea,” said Tony Spezia, president and CEO of Covenant Health. “Hospitals have reduced rates on Medicare and other things in order to get expansion, but if those 300,000 affected in Tennessee ultimately remain uninsured, then hospitals will be very damaged.” This reasoning coupled with the federal government’s current plan to fully fund the cost of expansion for the first three years makes the decisions seem easy according to Haslam, but the Governor and other state officials are more concerned with the potential future financial impact. “It’s easy to figure out at first because they’re covering 100 percent of the cost so we actually come out ahead in the first few years,” said Haslam. “But what happens if Washington has to balance the budget and decides they can’t maintain this level of funding? That’s the question a lot of folks have. We’re trying to decide the financial impact on the state, what it’s going to do to our healthcare providers, what it’s going to do to the health of our citizens, and what kind of circuit breakers we can include so we’re not stuck if the federal government does change the rules.” The Knoxville Chamber supports the Governor’s foresight by voicing its support for expansion, and advocating that legislation also include a clause allowing lawmakers to terminate the plan if the federal government reimbursement level drops below 80 percent. “Healthcare providers and employers in other industries have taken a significant hit due to the Affordable Care Act,” said Mike Edwards, president and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber. “It’s our belief that not expanding in 2014 will result in devastating consequences for all Tennesseans, particularly when you consider the obligation most employers would be under to provide healthcare coverage for these individuals.” Spezia also referenced the Affordable Care Act’s impact on employers who are attempting to prepare for the legislation’s implementation despite rapidly changing information. “It is the law of the land, but the impact on private business is substantial and still evolving,” he said. “Many of the final rules are still not issued such as what coverage will be provided by the exchanges or what costs will be associated with the plans, but businesses must begin preparing. It’s tough discussing options with employees when you know that you may no longer be providing coverage for them but can’t provide any concrete information on exactly what will be available.” Referencing the yet-to-be-determined coverage options available on the exchange, Spezia encourages employers to begin exploring their options and be prepared to respond to regulations as they’re announced. “The best advice I can give businesses right now is to stay on top of regulations,” he said. “Once you have the information you need to make a decision, communicate with employees as quickly as possible so they have enough time to react.”

What Does ACA Mean for Your Company? SELF-EMPLOYED • Individual Shared Responsibility Provisions: all individuals are required to have basic health insurance coverage unless they meet certain exemption requirements • Discounts in the Insurance Marketplace: individuals who are self-employed may qualify for individual tax credits and subsidies in the marketplace based on a sliding scale, based on income

50 OR FEWER EMPLOYEES • Access to Small Business Health Insurance Program (SHOP): market place designed to increase purchasing power allowing small business to obtain better coverage options at lower costs • Healthcare Tax Credit: increases available tax credit to 50% for those who participate in Small Business Health Insurance Program • Summary of Benefits and Coverage Disclosure Rules: Employers will be required to provide employees with a standard form explaining what their plan covers and what it costs in an effort to help employees better understand and evaluate their options • 90-Day Maximum Waiting Period: employees who are eligible for employer-provided health coverage will no longer have to wait more than 90 days to begin coverage • Workplace Wellness Programs: maximum reward under a workplace health-contingent wellness program will increase to 30% of the cost of health coverage • Health Insurance Coverage Reporting Requirements: employers that sponsor self-insured plans must submit reports to the IRS detailing information for each expense covered

50 OR MORE EMPLOYEES • Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions: employers who do not provide coverage to their full-time employees (defined as those who work 30+ hours per week) may be required to pay an assessment fee to offset cost of marketplace tax credits • Summary of Benefits and Coverage Disclosure Rules: Employers will be required to provide employees with a standard form explaining what their plan covers and what it costs in an effort to help employees better understand and evaluate their options • W-2 Reporting of Aggregate Care Costs: requires employers to report the aggregate annual cost of employer-provided coverage on each employee’s W-2 form • 90-Day Maximum Waiting Period: employees who are eligible for employer-provided health coverage will no longer have to wait more than 90 days to begin coverage Source:

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2013 What’s the Big Idea?! Business Plan Competition Returns – New & Improved! Entrepreneurs with Big Ideas are Encouraged to Apply Recognizing the vital role an entrepreneurial spirit plays in economic development and community success, the Knoxville Chamber is once again seeking to support business growth through a new and improved What’s the Big Idea?! sponsored by Rodefer Moss & Company. Presented in conjunction with The Development Corporation of Knox County and Tech 20/20, the revamped business plan competition will once again evaluate the products and services of aspiring entrepreneurs, ultimately awarding the winning Big Idea with a prize package that includes up to $10,000 in start-up reimbursement costs and a host of additional business services. However, this year’s contestants should be prepared for a new twist in the competition format. Deriving inspiration from popular reality television show The Voice, three established local entrepreneurs will build teams from the applicant pool with the goal of coaching one of their selected contestants to victory. “The new format enhances the spirit of competition and camaraderie, adding an even greater level of excitement to this year’s event,” said Todd Napier, president and CEO of the Development Corporation of Knox County. “Coaches have already expressed their commitment to winning and that drive, coupled with their experience and resources, will ultimately increase the overall value for everyone involved.” Applications are being accepted now through April 8 after which date a judging panel will evaluate the submissions and narrow the pool to 15 contestants. Those selected will have the opportunity to attend two Big Idea Launch seminars aimed

at strengthening their ideas and refining their pitches before presenting to their potential coaches on May 7. From these presentations, each coach will select three contestants to join their team and be given one month to mentor these nine semifinalists in conjunction with formal training sessions provided by event presenters. “The advice and resources open to this year’s semifinalists is invaluable,” said Mark Field, senior vice president of membership at the Knoxville Chamber. “Of course the hope is to win the competition, but regardless of the outcome these young professionals will have the benefit of access to and guidance from some our region’s most successful entrepreneurs.” On June 3 coaches will assign team members to compete head-to-head in one of three Knock-Out Competitions. Evaluated by an independent panel of judges, the winner of each round will move on to compete in the June 20 What’s the Big Idea finale. During the finale event the three finalists will pitch their ideas to a new panel of judges in front of live audience where one will be crowned the 2013 What’s the Big Idea winner. Local entrepreneurs interested in participating in What’s the Big Idea?! can submit their application at

Sponsored by:

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Manufacturer’s Roundtable A Popular Forum for Area LEAN Companies “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” This philosophy of American industrialist and founder of Ford Motor Company Henry Ford also epitomizes the purpose of Innovation Valley’s newly formed Manufacturers’ Roundtable. Comprised of local companies who are implementing LEAN practices, the group meets monthly to share ideas and drive innovation. “LEAN manufacturing and practices relate to the culture of a business and to how it operates, and this group is a benefit to any company striving to implement that,” said Beth Wells, continuous process improvement manager at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. “Regardless of what the company does specifically, we all have the same struggles, and it’s beneficial to hear from someone who may have already done the legwork in that area and can offer suggestions. We’re all located in the East Tennessee area, and we all want to see local business improve and thrive.” Inspired by similar groups whose networking is based on shared experiences, the group was formed when Knoxville Chamber Technology and Manufacturing Consultant Sam Hart presented the concept to members of the local manufacturing community. “When Sam and I were catching up, he mentioned the idea of creating a forum of LEAN change leaders,” said Bernie Ridenour, LEAN change leader at

Kimberly-Clark Corporation. “He had the idea of facilitating conversation among local companies going through the same transformations with the intent that hearing other points of view and sharing knowledge would positively impact our individual processes.” Ridenour not only credits the group with challenging him to think outside the box, but also points to the relationships formed around a common vision as an asset to local industry. “The Roundtable has given us an opportunity to forge new relationships with other people focused on continuous improvement in diverse industries,” he said. “It’s helping us build an important resource of shared knowledge, and I think we’re all interested in using these relationships and knowledge to improve operations in our companies and elevate manufacturing capabilities in Innovation Valley.” Both Wells and Ridenour cite the group’s value and enthusiasm as reasons for engagement, encouraging anyone interested in driving waste out of their operation, reducing lead times, and improving customer service to get involved. Hour-long meetings are held at the Knoxville Chamber on a monthly basis. Those interested in learning more about the group or in information on joining can contact Lauren Johnson at (865) 246-2610.

Luxury Apartment Complex Breaks Ground in West Knoxville The Sterling Group, an Indiana-based property management and development firm, recently broke ground on a new apartment community located in West Knoxville dubbed Wellsley Place. The February 26 ceremony, attended by City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and other local elected officials, signified the beginning of construction on the estimated $29.5 million dollar project expected to be completed in the fall of 2013. The 249 unit complex will offer one, two, and three bedroom floor plans ranging from 805 to over 1,400-square feet. Located just off Morrell Road behind West Town Mall, the luxury development will feature upscale finishes such as granite countertops and vaulted ceilings along with a variety of amenities including a resort-style swimming pool and state of the art fitness center. Cannon & Cannon, Inc., a local woman owned engineering and field survey firm, is partnering with Atlanta based SGN+A Architects to complete the project. To learn more about the apartment community and leasing options, visit the Sterling Group website at

Local officials break ground on Wellsley Place, a new luxury apartment community located in West Knoxville. Pictured L-R: Councilman Duane Grieve, Mayor Madeline Rogero, Councilman George Wallace, Commissioner Ed Shouse, Councilman Mark Campen, Sterling Group CEO Larry Swank, and HUD Representative Kim Cox.

Innovation Valley Secures ProNova Solutions Facility ProNova Solutions, a medical science company that manufactures proton therapy equipment, announced its plans to build on a 26-acre site at Pellissippi Place Park, located in Blount County. Pellissippi Place is a joint development of Knox and Blout Coun-

ties, and the cities of Maryville and Alcoa. The $52 million dollar capital investment is expected to eventually create 500 new jobs for the region. The project will help support Provision Health Alliance, a $110 million proton therapy center currently under construction in Knoxville’s Dowell Springs Business Park.

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Rolling the Dice on a Different Kind of Networking Event Over 100 members of the local business community took a gamble on the Chamber’s fourth annual Fantasy Casino Night. Held at Lighthouse Knoxville, the February 26 event supplied attendees with an authentic casino experience provided by Fantasy Casino Events. Gamblers snacked on appetizers prepared by the night’s catering sponsor Knoxville Catering and Special Events, while using their funny money to play blackjack, craps, and roulette. At the end of the night, participants cashed in their earnings for raffle tickets and the chance to win one of six door prizes. While all attendees won new connections during this unique networking event, the night’s big winners were as follows: Jennifer Brown, Comcast Business Class - Framed Print courtesy of Fast Frame Julie Freeman, Volcue – Four tickets to Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 300 courtesy of Bristol Motor Speedway Jim Johnson, Center for Business Transformation – Complimentary table at Schmoozapalooza Julie DeGeorge, Calhoun’s – Downtown Date Night Prize Package including 2 tickets to Regal Cinemas and a $50 Downtown gift card Jim Branham, Virginia College – Overnight Stay at Park Vista Linda Turley, Puleo’s Grille - $100 VISA gift card

Betters anticipate the roll of the dice during February’s Fantasy Casino Night at Lighthouse Knoxville.

Attendees enjoyed the laid-back networking at the unique event.

Players place their bets at the blackjack table. Other casino-inspired games included craps and roulette.

Sponsored by:

Catering Sponsor:

Julie Freeman, Volcue, was excited to be chosen as one of the night’s big winners. At the end of the evening, gamblers cashed in their winnings for the chance to win one of six door prizes.

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(JAN. - FEB. 2013)

NOTE - Knoxville MSA includes: Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon & Union Counties



Resident Labor Force Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee U.S.

% Change Feb. ’12Feb. ‘13

Feb. 2013

Jan. 2013

Feb. 2012

% Change Jan. ’13Feb. ‘13


232,270 366,250 3,106,800 154,794,000

235,660 372,750 3,086,400 154,114,000




330,800 2,703,400

325,100 2,666,500



Note: February workforce numbers were unavailable at time of printing.

Residential Closings Residential Inventory Median Residential Price

Feb. 2013 1,207 14,413 138,475

Jan. 2013 779 12,937 129,775

Feb. 2012 747 13,181 128,450

% Change Jan. ’13Feb. ‘13 54.9 11.4 6.7

% Change Feb. ’12Feb. ‘13 61.6 9.3 7.8

Source: Knoxville Area Association of Realtors

Non-Ag Employment Knoxville MSA Tennessee


Knoxville (City)

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

Jan. 2013* 15 15 0

Jan. 2012 23 23 0

% Change Jan. ’12Jan. ‘13 -34.8 -34.8 0.0

Knox Co.

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

65 65 0

57 57 0

14.0 14.0 0.0

Knoxville MSA

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

94 94 0

79 79 0

19.0 19.0 0.0


Total Single-Family Multi-Family

1,374 1,050 324

1,072 752 320

28.2 39.6 1.3

Available Labor Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee


16,410 27,460 290,810

15,890 27,360 292,050




6.5 6.9 8.5 8.5

6.1 6.6 8.5 8.7



Unemployment Rates Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee U.S.

Sources: Tennessee Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development/U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


*Southeast Region Avg. U.S. Avg. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Feb. ’12-‘13

Jan. ’12-‘13

Feb. ’11-‘12

1.9 2.0

1.5 1.6

3.3 2.9


% Change Jan. ’12Feb. ‘13

% Change Feb. ’11Feb. ‘13

0.4 0.4

-1.4 -0.9

*South – City Size Class B/C

*All 2012 building permit data is preliminary and therefore subject to revision throughout the year. Sources: U.S. Housing & Urban Development – SOCDS – State of the Cities Data Systems; U.S. Census Bureau – Building Permits Survey

SALES TAX REVENUE - STATE & LOCAL ($) State Sales Tax Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee

Feb. 2013

Jan. 2013

Feb. 2012

40,316,215 56,476,734 514,021,485

56,865,344 76,897,825 708,092,044

40,821,209 56,695,851 501,865,565

-29.1 -26.6 -27.4

-1.2 -0.4 2.4

11,247,091 15,865,573

16,320,790 22,341,594

11,295,121 15,684,753

-31.1 -29.0

-0.4 1.2

Local Sales Tax Knox Co. Knoxville MSA

% Change Feb. ’12Feb. ‘13

% Change Jan. ’13Feb. ‘13


Passengers Cargo

Dec. 2012 130,232 7,168,838

Nov. 2012 140,184 7,179,073

Dec. 2011 144,043 7,565,269

Source: Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority

Source: Tennessee Dept. of Revenue

RETAIL SALES - NATIONAL (IN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS) Category Total Retail Sales Building Materials Clothing Stores Electronics & Appliances Food & Beverage Stores Food Svcs & Drinking Places Furniture & Home Furnishings Gasoline Stations General Merchandise Stores Health & Personal Care Stores Miscellaneous Stores Motor Vehicle & Parts Sales Non-store Retailers Sporting Goods/Books/ Hobby/Music

Feb. 2013 381,015 19,451 17,902 7,698 49,254 41,685 7,273 41,687 46,831 21,964 9,655 73,678 37,767

Jan. 2013 382,861 19,971 15,360 7,685 52,415 42,191 7,592 41,274 44,856 23,416 9,200 70,016 40,896

376,652 19,280 17,831 7,949 49,208 41,248 7,424 41,540 49,130 22,618 9,347 71,103 33,843

% Change Jan. ’13Feb. ‘13 -0.5 -2.6 16.5 0.2 -6.0 -1.2 -4.2 1.0 4.4 -6.2 4.9 5.2 -7.7





Feb. 2012

% Change Feb. ’12Feb. ‘13 1.2 0.9 0.4 -3.3 0.1 1.1 -2.0 0.4 -4.7 -2.9 3.3 3.6 11.6 0.6

Source: U.S. Census Bureau – Advance Monthly Retail Trade Report

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EST. 1869

% Change Nov. ’12Dec. ‘12 -7.1 -0.1

% Change Dec. ’11Dec. ‘12 -9.6 -5.2

Education, Healthcare Reform Focus of 2013 Governor’s Breakfast Governor Bill cation,” said Haslam. “To Haslam discussed help us achieve that goal his 2013 legislative we’ve proposed WGU, agenda with over an online competency400 members of the based university geared Knoxville business towards the 800,000 community during the adult Tennesseans who Chamber’s Breakfast have some college credit with the Governor but didn’t graduate with presented by Stowers an associates or four Machinery. Also sponyear degree.” sored by Alcoa Inc., In addition to educathe February 22 event tion reform, the state provided an opportugovernment also faces nity for businesspeople decisions on how to best to not only learn about implement the federal what legislation the government’s Affordable Governor considers a Care Act. Governor Bill Haslam paused for a photo with presenting sponsor West Stowers, Stowers Machinery Corporation and priority this session, but “The Affordable Care his daughter Lisa Rottmann. also allowed attendees Act passed leaving state to ask questions regarding issues of specific concern to them. governments and legislatures with two big decisions – whether to run the manEmphasizing the state’s commitment to education, Haslam cited gains in dated health insurance exchange or let the federal government take care of it and student achievement as evidence that increased funding for K-12 programs was whether to expand Medicaid coverage to 138 percent of the poverty level or stay positively impacting performance. where we’re at,” said Haslam. “I understand it’s not just about throwing money at the problem, but you also Deciding that, at least initially, the exchange would be best managed by the can’t be ignorant of the fact that when you’re funding at lower levels you may federal government, Haslam pointed to determining the best course of action perform at lower levels,” he said. “In 2012, we had more students test as profiregarding the expansion of coverage as the more challenging decision. cient in math and English than they did two years ago, we were one of only two “The expansion decision is different because it involves a lot of money,” he states to see a double digit increase in graduation rates, and our TCAPP scores said. “Before making a decision, we’re weighing a variety of factors including the showed the highest aggregate gains in state history so we really are on the right financial impact on the state, the impact on our healthcare providers, the potenpath.” tial impact on the health of our citizens, and what measures should be included Ranking second nationally in increased funding for education last year, the to protect us in case the federal government changes the rules along the way.” 2013 budget allots even more financial support for education. Acknowledging the impact that both education and healthcare reform can “We’re serious about making certain we move to the top in education this have on business recruitment, Haslam is also committed to supporting economic year,” said Haslam. “Efforts being made across the state are defining a new day, development initiatives across the state. and we think there’s incredible progress being made.” “It’s a very difficult market out there, and we’re not just competing for new Haslam’s 2013 legislative agenda also focuses on post-secondary education, companies but also to keep the ones we have,” he said. “There is a direct link and the state’s need for a trained workforce in order to support industry growth between a state’s quality of education, the cost of healthcare to companies, the and expansion. availability of a trained workforce and the business growth of a state. It’s a com“One of the biggest challenges facing Tennessee is that only 32 percent of petitive world out there right now, and we intend to compete.” those over age 25 have a two year degree, and 55 percent of new jobs being created require a two year degree or more,” he said. “I keep hearing from businesses that they love being in East Tennessee, but they are emphatic that we Presented by: must produce more graduates in their areas of need.” Along with providing funding for those areas in greatest demand, Haslam’s plans include making postsecondary education more accessible through programs such as Western Governor’s University Tennessee and the Drive to 55. Supporting Sponsor: “The Drive to 55 is a strategic initiative to have the best trained workforce in America, and to do that we must improve affordability and access to higher edu-

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All Occasion Catering Hosts March Networking Event Flaming doughnuts and fresh connections were the features of March’s a.m. Exchange at All Occasion Catering, the catering sponsor for all a.m. Exchange events throughout the year. A full-service catering company, All Occasion has served the Knoxville area for over 15 years and can accommodate groups of up to 20,000 people at virtually any site. In addition to the doughnuts, attendees enjoyed a variety of other breakfast fare including waffles with pork belly, breakfast potatoes, and fresh biscuits. Providing members the opportunity to interact over morning coffee, a.m. Exchanges are casual networking events which attract approximately 75 attendees.

Neal Green, owner of All Occasion Catering, addresses attendees at during the March a.m. Exchange held at his venue on Central Avenue.

Attendees were treated to delicious fare including the popular flaming doughnuts.

Sponsored by:

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Nashville Legislative Reception Tennessee’s “Big 4 Chambers” from Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Nashville hosted a reception welcoming members of the 108th Tennessee General Assembly on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at the Sheraton Hotel in Downtown Nashville. Members of the four metro-areas’ business communities used the opportunity to share their opinions with lawmakers on upcoming legislation that could impact their bottom line.

Presidents and CEOs of the state’s “Big 4 Chambers” attend the Chamber-hosted reception welcoming the 108th Tennessee General Assembly to Nashville. Pictured (L-R): Ralph Schulz, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce; John Moore, Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce; Mike Edwards, Knoxville Chamber; Ron Harr, Chattanooga Area Chamber.

Knoxville Site First Metro-Area Location Named Data Center Ready A Knoxville site was recently approved as the first metro-area site designated as an excellent primary location for a data center by Chicago-based Deloitte Consulting. Part of the region’s target industry recruitment efforts, the 10.6acre site located in at Corridor Park is one of only 20 available data center sites designated as primary ready for development in TVA’s seven-state service area. The site is listed by John Griess with Holrob Commercial. “This certification will be particularly attractive to companies and developers who specialize in data projects,” said Doug Lawyer, vice president of economic development at the Knoxville Chamber. “Almost every corporation stores their data on multiple servers, and this site will support companies who need an external location to house their equipment.” With the potential to create intensive capital investment, Deloitte’s study characterized the prospective site as readily accessible with strong telecommunications infrastructure including fiber-optic feeds, and reliable power availability, which are three main criteria for approval as a data center ready site. “Having this site identified as a primary data center location gives the Knox County area an advantage in the highly competitive site selection process,” said John Bradley, senior vice president for economic development at TVA. “We are glad to work with the local utilities, the Knoxville Chamber and other community, state, and regional leaders to actively market these sites to companies as part of our global economic development recruitment efforts.”


Virginia College Impacting Lives, Supporting Community Core of Local College Virginia College School of Business and Health is in the business of changing lives – one student at a time. – Jim Branham, president of Virginia College Focused on equipping graduates with the skills they need to thrive in the workplace, the Virginia College School of Business and Health in Knoxville provides students with the opportunity to achieve their goals and ultimately change their lives. “Many of our students are here to either finish their college education or change their careers, and our job is to give them the skills they need to be successful,” said Branham. “The goal is to have 80-85 percent of our graduates working in their field of study, and when you consider the impact that has on both the graduate and their families – it’s changing a lot of lives.” Understanding the unique challenges faced by its student population, the school is up front with enrollees about the commitment and work necessary to complete a degree but also creates an environment that supports those efforts through small class sizes, engaged instructors, and student services. “One of the things I try to hit home with students right out of the gate is that we’re different because we ask for a commitment, but I also make sure they know our staff is here to partner in their educational success,” said Branham. “As a result of their individual circumstances, many of our students question if they can do this; part of our staff’s responsibility is to provide the motivation and encouragement to remind them that they can.” With instructors ranked highly-satisfactory by students and individual attention as a cornerstone of the college, Branham says that strong enrollment numbers will make space a concern in the months ahead. “As we grow closer to 700 students, space may be an issue,” he said. “We expect that we’ll be around that number in June, but are adding Friday classes and evening labs to ensure our class sizes stay small. We want to make sure we don’t get so large that we’re unable to provide our students with the one-on-one attention and skills they need to be successful.” Along with investing in its student-body, since opening its Knoxville campus in March 2012, Virginia College has also made it a point to invest in the local community. “When conversations began about establishing a campus in the middle of Fountain City, one of the first things I wanted to do was create an institution that gave back to the community,” said Branham. In addition to allowing local organizations to utilize their space, the college has also partnered with the Boy Scouts to become an American Merit Badge College and is in the midst of developing student groups whose focus will include identifying areas where they can make a difference in the community. Set to celebrate its first graduating class this November, the college offers degrees in business and office, health and medical, medical billing, medical office, and cosmetology. For more information or to begin the application process, visit or visit their Knoxville campus located at 5003 N. Broadway Street.

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executive Speaker Series Luncheon Featuring Jimmy Haslam, Owner of the Cleveland Browns 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Knoxville Marriott, 500 Hill Avenue Cost: $25 for Chamber Members/$35 for non-members Sponsored by:

APRIL 17 Present Yourself! Presented by Matt Honkonen, Designsensory 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square Cost: $25 Chamber Members/$25 for non-members (Lunch will be included.) Sponsored by:

APRIL 19 Legislative Briefing with Senator Randy McNally, Chair of Finance Committee 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square Sponsored by:

MAY 3 Pinnacle Business Awards, presented by BB&T 6-10 p.m. Knoxville Convention Center, 701 Henley St. Individuals: $110 Chamber Members/ $140 for non-members Table Sponsorships: $1,100 Chamber Members/ $1,700 non-members Presented by:

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Commerce April 2013  
Commerce April 2013  

The official newsletter of the Knoxville Chamber.