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INSIDE: Schmoozapalooza Recap pg. 48 + Monthly Economic Indicators pg. 50


SILVER PREMIER PARTNERS The Real Estate Firm Inc. (865) 922-5500 Real Estate: Residential; Real Estate: Commercial; Real Estate: Corporate Relocation; Real Estate: Property Management

BRONZE PREMIER PARTNERS United Services Inc. (865) 281-0201 Building Materials: Air Conditioning, Heating, and Climate Control; Construction & Contractors: Electrical Contractors; Construction & Contractors: Plumbing Electrical Supplies & Services: Distributors Aspen Contracting, Inc. (877) 784-7663 Construction & Contractors: Roofing Awaken Coffee (865) 250-3794 Restaurants: Coffee & Tea Benchmark Physical Therapy (865) 577-8244 Healthcare Providers & Services: Physical Therapy Cirruspath (844) 287-0950 Computer & IT Services: Software Doug Soltis, Inc. (865) 388-9696 Business & Professional Services Duncan & Sons’ Building Maintenance, Inc. (865) 524-3225 Building & Grounds Maintenance: Cleaning Services & Supplies Eye to Eye Design Studio, LLC (865) 951-1375 Business & Professional Services: Graphic Designers Firstview Online (865) 357-3600 Business & Professional Services: Marketing & Sales Fountain City Jewelers (865) 686-0502 Shopping: Jewelry Grow - Hair. Skin. Body. (865) 450-5490 Personal Services: Salons & Spas Hardin Valley Farm Bureau Insurance (865) 247-6517 Insurance

Laniakea Flotation Tanks, LLC (630) 391-0665 Personal Services Leapfrog Global Trade Networks, LLC (865) 312-6193 Distribution/Warehousing/Logistics: Import/Export Assistance (865) 643-8200 Business & Professional Services: Advertising Media Lincoln Memorial University School of Business (423) 869-3611 Education & Training: Colleges


Business Owners Benefit Association - BOBA (844) 949-2622 Business & Professional Services: Billing, Payroll, & Collection Services; Business & Professional Services:Business Advisors & Consultants; Business & Professional Services:Credit Card Equipment & Processing; Business & Professional Services; Legal Services

Labor Support Management, Inc. (865) 579-1645 Employment, Career, & Staffing Services

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.


Quaker Steak and Lube (423) 274-4256 Restaurants





Moe’s Original Bar B Que (865) 385-7803 Restaurants (423) 714-9855 Hotels & Lodging









Rocky Top Flooring (865) 321-7974 Construction & Contractors Salon Les Cheveux (865) 206-0458 Personal Services: Salons & Spas Shae Design Studio (865) 313-2656 Residential Services: Interior Design The Pretentious Beer Glass Company (606) 688-0345 Entertainment: Arts & Culture Trillium Construction (865) 531-4807 Construction & Contractors Weaver Medical (865) 777-6888 Healthcare Providers & Services: Orthotics/Prosthetics Webb Properties, LLC (865) 922-5500 Real Estate Williams Creek Golf Course (865) 546-5828 Sports & Recreation: Golf

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 44



Innovation and technological advancement would not exist without the research that serves as the basis for new inventions and industry developments. In Knoxville, the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) serves as a key facilitator in turning raw research into real products and services that solve problems for businesses and better the community. UTRF is believed to be the second-oldest research foundation in the country. Originally developed in 1935 as the UT Research Corporation by the Tennessee State Legislature, the organization’s primary goal was to promote agricultural inventions and get range of crop varieties out to market. The organization was re-chartered in 2003 as UTRF, and it now serves as a non-profit organization that promotes the commercialization of UT intellectual property, encourages an entrepreneurial culture, contributes to state and regional economic development, and promotes research and education to benefit the people of Tennessee and beyond. “We’re here to support UT faculty, staff, and students, and actually any Tennessee citizen who has intellectual property that they would like to get out to market,” said Stacey Patterson, vice president of UTRF. “We do evaluations of intellectual property, we do market analyses, and then we find licensees either through established companies, or we have several startups each year that get spun out in order to get that technology from its very nascent form in the laboratory out to the world where it can do some good.”

UTRF TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER PROCESS Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind, including inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, and symbols used in commerce. When UT faculty, staff, or students develop an idea from research that they want to get to market, they are required by policy to disclose that information to the university. The inventor or inventors must then go through the technology transfer process. The first step of the process is to discuss the idea with UTRF and make sure the organization understands the data, idea, and goals. Then, they must file an invention disclosure, which notifies the UT department or college of the idea, and the university will assign it to UTRF

for management and evaluation. During this evaluation UTRF will analyze the patentability, commercial opportunity, and barriers to market for the invention. They evaluate the invention based on three criteria: the novelty of the technology, the market need, and if the market is large enough to invest. If the technology meets all three conditions, UTRF works with outside patent firms to get patent, trademark, or copyright protection. “We get about 120 to 150 disclosures a year, and we file 50 to 60 patents a year,” Patterson explained. “In the last few years, we’ve also been part of the National Academy of Inventors’ Top 100 list worldwide for universities with U.S. patents issued.” “In some cases, we work with inventors who are interested in entrepreneurship, and we work with regional entrepreneurship support organizations like Knoxville Entrepreneur Center and Launch Tennessee to help make sure those entrepreneurial-minded inventors know what they need to know to get their business started and hopefully start them here in the Knoxville region,” Patterson said. “Then, we work with different capital groups around the region to try and keep them funded here, so that they’ll stay here and create jobs.”

RECOGNIZING LOCAL INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY Each year, UTRF hosts the Innovation Awards, an event that highlights inventors and acknowledges their contributions to intellectual property, the issuance of patents, startup companies, and licenses. This year, the event was held on Jan. 12 at the Foundry on the Fair Site, and it highlighted 88 different inventors. At the ceremony, the prestigious B. Otto and Kathleen Wheeley award for Excellence in Technology Transfer was awarded to Shigetoshi Eda and Jayne Wu, who have invented a platform diagnostic technology that allows for the detection of illnesses like the flu. “Today, you go into the doctor’s office and get a flu test, and it is about 60 percent accurate,” said Patterson. “Their test is 99.9 percent accurate in trials so far, and you get the results in about a minute. The test strips also only cost about a dollar to make, so it could really be groundbreaking.” On April 6, UTRF will host the Tennessee Venture Challenge Finale at the Foundry as the capstone event

to their eight-week business plan competition. Nine teams of UT faculty, staff, and students will go through the entrepreneurship boot camp and compete at the finale event for a $25,000 cash prize or a $5,000 crowdfavorite award. Cash prizes for second and third place will also be awarded. Each team will have eight minutes to pitch their business plan with two minutes reserved for questions.

CHEROKEE FARM AND IACMI UT Research Foundation has four wholly-owned subsidiary companies, one of those being Cherokee Farm Development Corporation. It is charged with the development of the Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus adjacent to the University of Tennessee and UT Medical Center. The campus serves as a research and development park that gives businesses access to the most powerful tools available in materials science and high-performance computing, as well as internationally-renowned researchers at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “This is a true public-private partnership with the university focused on research partnerships, developing new technologies, and the commercialization and economic development in Knoxville,” said Patterson. “The campus has 77 developable acres and 17 shovel-ready sites. It’s an exciting project.” The first building is a UT – ORNL joint Institute for Advanced Materials. It boasts 144,000 square feet of state-of-the-art advanced materials science technologies, including sophisticated imaging tools. The institute draws on the intellectual resources of the UT faculty and scientists at ORNL with interests in advanced materials research. The results of material science research have influenced nearly every aspect of life – the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, computers, and materials used to build homes and railways. Another project under UTRF’s purview is called Collaborative Composites Solutions Incorporated, which houses the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, or IACMI. “It is a $259 million project that was awarded this past year from the United States Department of Energy,” Patterson explained. “It’s really going to take innovation to the next level in the world of composites.” “UTRF” continued on pg. 46

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“UTRF” continued from pg. 45 IACMI is committed to delivering a public-private partnership that will increase domestic production capacity, grow manufacturing, and create jobs across the U.S. composite industry. This collaboration of research institutions and state partners is committed to accelerating development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for low-cost, energy-efficient manufacturing of advanced composites for vehicles, wind turbines, and compressed gas storage. Patterson said, “These composite materials are going to make vehicles more light-weight and make them more energy efficient, which will increase gas mileage.”

“They are looking for ways to use biomass that you can grow right here in East Tennessee,” said Patterson. “Everything that you can think of that we currently make out of petroleum – plastics, cardboards, fuels – it can be made out of plant material and biomass.” The last wholly-owned subsidiary company under UTRF is ASSET.TN, which is the Center for Advanced Scientific Support and Engineering Technology. It facilitates technology and product developments in support of the UT Space Institute, the Arnold Engineering Development Complex at Arnold Air Force Base, as well as other regional and national clients.


“UT has really come a long way in the last 20 years when it comes to our research programs, and innovation really stems from research because you never know what the next great idea is,” Patterson said. “Anything you can think of, you can trace most of it back to a university invention, which is why is really important to support research and

Another subsidiary under the UTRF umbrella is Tennera, which is a biotechnology company specializing in efficiently separating highly-renewable energy crops into pure fractions of materials that can be used in specialty chemicals and advanced composite materials.


the transfer of that research into technology development.” The university’s journey to the Top 25 public research universities has put a spotlight on the importance of research and innovation, and its robust technology transfer program continually helps recruit and retain top-notch faculty in a wide range of specialties. Patterson believes it is important for UTRF to partner with local companies because of the 1,200 faculty members who are experts in various subjects, because they can help find solutions to business problems. Research done at the University of Tennessee has greatly impacted people’s lives across the board. From the stretchable materials in Huggies diapers, to the research that sparked the “Got Milk?” marketing campaign, the research performed by UT faculty, staff, and students has impacted the lives of millions, and will continue to do so in the future through continued dedication to facilitating innovation and technological advancements.

MediaWorks Graduate Visits YouTubeNY Space BY: JESSICA KARSTEN

A local digital media start-up with roots that trace to the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s immersive MediaWorks program received a prestigious invitation to YouTube’s space in New York City. Fadi Saleh, a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee, came up with the idea for a unique set of videos called Baracksdubs, in which he cuts and reconfigures sections of President Barack Obama’s public speeches into popular songs. “It was a shower idea over winter break in 2011,” said Saleh. “I had a song stuck in my head, and seemingly out of nowhere the idea of making Obama sing it came into my head. I’m glad I did. Baracksdubs gave me a place on the frontlines of new media, introduced me to big brands and labels, and made for some great stories as well. It’s still surreal.” The Baracksdubs YouTube channel boasts and impressive subscriber base of more than 1.2 million and has more than 200 million views. It is currently the largest YouTube channel based in Knoxville. Saleh attributes his channel’s success to many people, including Dr. Michael Handelsman of the University of Tennessee, the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship, and Dee Haslam with RIVR Media, where he served as an intern. However, he says the biggest help came from Jim Biggs and Jonathan Sexton of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) and Knoxville’s startup community. “KEC helped pushed me to where I am today more than anyone else,” Saleh said. “Jonathan convinced me that Baracksdubs is a scalable business. He also introduced me to MediaWorks, KEC’s three-month media startup accelerator. I now know how to build a business model and speak the language of investors, and I have been able to pitch my company, SpareTime Entertainment, to hundreds.” Biggs and Sexton of KEC recently had the opportunity to travel with Saleh to the YouTube Space in New York to get SpareTime more plugged into the YouTube community. Sexton, the entrepreneur in residence for KEC, said the experience at the

space was enlightening and they learned many aspects of content creation they can utilize here in Knoxville. “The experience at YouTubeNY was great. It’s a beautiful facility with world-class production studios and editing bays, a soundstage for live concerts, and a learning space for classes,” said Sexton. “Video content creation is the wild west. Every day, people are using new media, video, and the Internet to redefine storytelling, advertising, and the media industry in general. YouTube is a blank canvas, as are other key content platforms like Twitch, Snapchat, and Instagram.” He continued, “We have to trust our instincts in Knoxville. Video content creation is in our local DNA, and we have a great opportunity to build on that. That’s what we intend to keep doing and our time with YouTube staff and creators validated that.” While at the space, Saleh worked to develop a script for his channel and attended a creator education session. He also spoke with Adam Relis, head of the YouTubeNY Space, about strategy and challenges in supporting content creators. Saleh wants to take what he learned, both at KEC and through his visit to the YouTube space, to help other content creators in the area. “The YouTube space is the best place to get support in growing an online video brand, and this taps into a personal goal of mine, which is helping content creators succeed online,” he said. “Baracksdubs is one of the few big goals I have, the biggest being to help accelerate the efforts of KEC and others in town to help Knoxville become a more entrepreneurial city.” KEC is currently in the next phase of developing its initiatives for the Knoxville media industry, including the recently announced The Works program, which will be a 12-week startup accelerator for content creators this summer. For more information or to apply for The Works, please visit The application is available online through May 1.

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Mobile Web Portal Farm Spotter Wins What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour Launch BY: JESSICA KARSTEN

After 48 intense hours of developing and refining their “big ideas” for the What’s the Big Idea business start-up competition, a winner was crowned from a group of six contestants. On Feb. 21, the contestants took to the stage at Scruffy City Hall to present their ideas to a panel of judges in a Shark Tank-style pitch event. This year boasted an impressive array of business concepts, but it was Jason Hanna and Doug McDaniel’s Farm Spotter that took home the grand prize – up to $10,000 in startup reimbursement costs, one year free rent at the Fairview Technology Center, a spot in the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s CO.STARTERS program, and a Knoxville Chamber membership. Farm Spotter is a mobile web portal that aggregates locally-grown produce, providing a purchasing format and an online marketplace to connect local buyers with information and products, eliminating the middle man. “We’re already an operational business,” McDaniel said during the final pitch. “We are matching up farmers to buyers including Three Rivers Market, Knox Mason, both Tomato Heads, Flour Head Bakery, as well as Bistro at the Bijou. We’ve also signed up six additional restaurants this weekend just as a result of the buzz of this program.” During the finale, each contestant had six minutes to pitch their ideas and two minutes for questions from a panel of judges. Leading up to the finale, the teams worked around the clock to make their ideas pitch-ready with the help of mentors and coaches at KEC. “The weekend was a fantastic display of how Knoxville’s business mentors can come together to help businesses achieve incredible things over the course of 48 hours,” said Emily Skaar, director of entrepreneurship for KEC. “Farm Spotter was a great choice for a winner, because they came in with the invaluable experience of using their concept before they even had the technology built.” Since the finale, Farm Spotter has been working to apply for grants and build connections with local farmers and organizations like the Knox County Food Policy Council.

The WTBI 48-Hour Launch winning team Farm Spotter poses at the finale pitch event at Scruffy City Hall on Feb. 21.

“We will take part in the next KEC CO.STARTERS class, but we aren’t just waiting for that. We are already looking forward,” McDaniel said. “We are also starting to realize that our goals align with many policy goals in the region and we will continue to build on that.” “The entire experience was enlightening and was really a trial-by-fire, which is exactly what we needed,” Hanna said. “We’ve had a number of different meetings with organizations to continue refining our idea and narrowing down to see what the exact need is. We have also had a number of bids from different software companies to do the back-end web development of our portal.”

Young Entrepreneurs Academy Students Secure Local Investments BY: JESSICA KARSTEN

Students in the Knoxville Chamber’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) participated in an investor panel on Feb. 23, in which they pitched their business concepts to a panel of eight local investors. The event was presented by Pilot Flying J and supported by Alcoa Foundation and Clayton Bank. The investor panel was made up of Tom Ballard, chief alliance office of PYA; Travis Edmondson, CEO of Clayton Bank; Paul Forsyth, attorney from Pitts & Lake Law firm; Eddie Mannis, president of Prestige Cleaners and Prestige Tuxedo; Christy Newman, community relations manager for Alcoa; Jason Hamilton, CPA principal of Rodefer Moss; Matt Testa, division director at Pilot Flying J; and Aaron Walters, chairman and CEO of Altar’d State. The 21 YEA! students created 12 unique businesses that they have been developing from the ground up since October 2015. Each business had five minutes to pitch their ideas to the panel, who later deliberated and allocated the combined pool of $7,000 to the businesses of their choice. The students will now be able to use these real business investments for various start-up costs. “The past five months the YEA students have worked with resilience as they completed their business plans, prototypes, and mastering their pitch,” said Mackenzie

Fox, YEA! program manager. “The investor panel revealed the hard work each business put in, and they now have the reward of real funds to move forward with launching their business. This unique opportunity for the students revealed The Knoxville Chamber’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy the creativity, determinastudents pose with their business investments from eight local businesspeople at an investor panel on Feb. 23. tion, and passion they have for business and impacting the Knoxville community.” Sixteen-year-old Noah Smith, with his business Eco-Rust, was also selected by the panel to move on to the Saunders Scholars Competition this May in Rochester, N.Y.

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Luau-themed Schmoozapalooza XIV Draws Record Crowd to Knoxville Expo Center


More than 830 businesspeople joined the Knoxville Chamber for Schmoozapalooza XIV at the Knoxville Expo Center on March 8, a record crowd for the luauthemed tabletop exhibition. The annual spring networking event was presented by Comcast Business, Verizon Wireless, and Business Owners Benefits Association (BOBA). Attendees enjoyed delicious food and drinks, music, and more than 110 exhibiting businesses. Students from the Chamber’s inaugural Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) also exhibited the businesses they have developed throughout the course of their program. The evening concluded with a drawing for several door prizes. Debbie Price of Healthy Mind Counseling

Services took home an iPhone 6 Mofi phone case, courtesy of Verizon Wireless; Tamara Bukowski of Foundation Mortgage won a health and fitness goodie bag, provided by Comcast Business; and Jonathan Halley of 2:45 Tech was the winner of two VIP Smoky Moutnain Airshow Chalet Access tickets and one standard parking pass, courtesy of BOBA. All guests took home a festive goodie bag provided by Threds. This was also the first year two booths were awarded for their creative tabletop displays. Hunter Valley Farm won the most creative general exhibit award and Destination Dice was awarded the most creative YEA! student exhibit. Each business received gift cards as their prizes.

Katie Eastman of presenting sponsor Business Owners Benefits Association networks with attendees at the company’s first-ever Schmoozapalooza.

Connie Francis, Patrick Boatright and Lorena Hubbard of Lawhorn CPA Group, Inc. pose with their festive booth at the luau-themed spring Schmoozapalooza.

Brittany Brown and Nancy Barger pose at the Hunter Valley Farm tabletop exhibit, which was awarded the most creative exhibitor booth at the annual spring networking event.

Young Entrepreneurs Academy student Spencer Terry of Destination Dice networks with attendees at his booth, which was awarded the most creative YEA! student exhibit.

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Owner: Jason Bothman


Website: & www.

Industry Type: Supply Chain Industry Type: Transportation/Government Describe your firm briefly, and what are your main markets or services? We primarily help manufacturers and suppliers with warehousing and distribution. Our customers are concerned about interruptions to their productivity due to supply chain delays including bad weather, strikes at the ports, and warehouse space constraints.


Who has been one of your important mentors and why? What were the key lessons learned?

Focus on streamlining daily processes to become more efficient, accurate and safe.

Overall, my most important mentor is my father, but from a transportationindustry perspective, Todd Lafond has been a confidante and mentor through the years. Todd is an ex-Roadway guy that eventually joined Volunteer Express. He is now vice president of Enterprise Accounts at Globaltranz. Todd brings both asset and non-asset based transportation experience to the table. One key lesson is to only promise what is realistic, but over-deliver.

What are three lessons you have learned from your mentor?

What are the benefits of being a mentor?

Simplify what you track, do employee reviews once a month, and make time to work on the business and not in it.

Imparting knowledge and wisdom from years of experience to the next group of business leaders.

How has your business or management thinking changed because of your mentor?

What do you want your protégé to learn from you?

What is your primary objective over the next year?

To engage employees in ways that will encourage excellence and to think more broadly about business opportunities in the industry.

Why should every business have a mentor? To gain wisdom from a mentor’s success and failures, which will shorten your learning curve and help you avoid painful mistakes.

I want my protégé to take away whatever is important to him. I am here to listen to any concerns he may have. I am here to offer advice. I am also here to help in any form that is needed.

Do you think successful firms should mentor a small firm? If so, why? Definitely. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. With more than 500k businesses started and even more shuttered every month, successful firms should want to help others that are just starting out or have not had the same success yet.

What are the three key priorities small firm owners should consider every day? Finding and retaining talented employees, providing an environment to keep employees motivated while fostering some of their own ideas, and looking for operational efficiencies to maximize margins.

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(Feb. 2016)

NOTES – Knoxville MSA includes: Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Grainger, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, Roane & Union Counties.

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

HOUSING MARKET % Change Jan. ’15Jan. ‘16

Jan. 2016

Dec. 2015

Jan. 2015

% Change Dec. ’15Jan. ‘16

229,570 406,840 3,071,900 157,347,000

231,840 412,320 3,078,300 157,245,000

224,080 399,280 3,009,000 156,050,000

-1.0 -1.3 -0.2 0.1

2.5 1.9 2.1 0.8

387,400 2,912,200

395,700 2,976,200

378,100 2,820,800

-2.1 -2.2

2.5 3.2

9,940 20,310 166,680

11,010 22,380 181,750

14,030 28,490 235,760

-9.7 -9.2 -8.3

-29.2 -28.7 -29.3

3.9 4.5 4.9 5.3

4.3 4.9 5.3 4.8

5.7 6.5 7.1 6.1

-0.4 -0.4 -0.4 0.5

-1.8 -2.0 -2.2 -0.8

Non-Ag Employment Knoxville MSA Tennessee

Residential Closings Residential Inventory Median Residential Price

Feb. 2016 1,114 8,224 $157,501

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

% Change Feb. ’15Feb. ‘16 1.0 1.0

Feb. ’15-‘16

Jan. ’14-‘15

Feb. ’14-‘15

0.5 1.0

1.0 1.4

-0.5 0.0

-0.5 -0.4

% Change Feb. ’14Feb. ‘16

Knoxville (City)

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

Jan. 2016* 37 37 0

Jan. 2015 213 13 0

% Change Jan. ’15Jan. ‘16 184.6 184.6 0.0

Knox Co.

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

106 106 0

86 86 0

23.3 23.3 0.0

Knoxville MSA

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

176 157 19

156 156 0

12.8 0.6 100.0


Total Single-Family Multi-Family

2,388 1,217 1,171

2,038 1,189 849

17.2 2.4 37.9

Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee

Feb. 2016

Jan. 2015

Feb. 2015

% Change Jan. ’15Feb. ‘16

44,873,381 68,175,000 579,440,565

64,559,832 96,569,875 869,837,506

44,356,172 66,801,504 559,290,593

-30.5 -29.4 -33.4

1.2 2.1 3.6

12,499,549 19,558,373

18,101,668 27,809,022

12,301,121 18,887,509

-30.9 -29.7

1.6 3.6


Passengers Cargo

Dec. 2015 140,311 7,153,776

Nov. 2015 148,111 5,627,619

Dec. 2014 139,162 6,930,892

% Change Nov. ’15Dec. ‘15 -5.3 27.1

% Change Dec. ’14Dec.‘15 0.8 3.2

Source: Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority

Local Sales Tax Knox Co. Knoxville MSA

*All 2016 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

*South – City Size Class B/C


890 9,149 $149,900


CONSUMER PRICE INDEX (CPI) - ALL ITEMS % Change Jan. ’15Feb. ‘16

Feb. 2015

% Change Feb. ’15Feb. ‘16 25.2 -10.1 5.1

Source: Knoxville Area Association of Realtors

Available Labor Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee

Jan. 2016 977 8,265 $153,000

% Change Jan. ’16Feb. ‘16 14.0 -0.5 2.9

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. 2016

Jan. 2015

409,600 23,386 18,863 7,922 53,712 50,977 7,887 26,981 50,846 25,941 8,998 88,726 39,241

400,249 22,062 15,570 7,695 56,495 50,224 7,848 29,074 49,349 25,838 8,582 80,717 39,996

385,731 19,996 17,787 7,952 51,402 46,551 7,403 31,033 48,413 24,257 8,571 80,428 36,332

% Change Jan. ’16Feb. ‘16 2.3 6.0 21.1 2.9 -4.9 1.5 0.5 -7.2 3.0 0.4 4.8 9.9 -1.9





Feb. 2015

% Change Feb. ’15Feb. ‘16 6.2 17.0 6.0 -0.4 4.5 9.5 6.5 -13.1 5.0 6.9 5.0 10.3 8.0 9.2

EST. 1869 For more information on research, contact Joe Riley,

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

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Area Chambers Present Regional Legislative Agenda to State Lawmakers BY: JESSICA KARSTEN

On March 2, representatives from the Blount County, Oak Ridge, and Knoxville chambers met for the 2016 Regional Legislative Reception at the Sheraton in downtown Nashville. The purpose of this event was to present the annual Regional Legislative and Public Policy Agenda, a combined effort of the three chambers for more than 25 years. Attendees included representatives from the regional chambers, state legislators, commissioners, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, Governor Bill Haslam, and business leaders from the three communities. This annual reception is hosted to present the agenda items to state legislators and the governor to make them aware of the issues that the regional chambers believe strongly affects the

business community. Nearly 70 people attended this year’s reception, which was hosted by the Blount County Chamber of Commerce. Tommy Hunt of Calloway Oil presented the 2016 regional agenda, which focuses on issues like education, transportation, and economic development in the State of Tennessee. This year’s agenda calls for the identification of barriers to success of current preK through third grade education and develop measurable strategies for improvement. It also calls on legislators to develop and implement a long-term solution for transportation funding in the region.

APRIL - MEMBER ANNIVERSARIES Since 1869, the Knoxville Chamber has been the leading voice for business in the region. Each of these businesses are celebrating milestone anniversaries as Chamber members during the month of April Thank you for your commitment to the Chamber and the community!

Century 21 Select Properties


East Tennessee Natural Gas


Schmid & Rhodes Construction Co.


Star Construction, LLC.


Gouffon Moving & Storage Company, Inc.


Lance Cunningham Ford


Alstom Power


Johnson & Galyon, Inc.


Knoxville Bar Association


WVLT-Volunteer TV


Ambrose, Wilson, Grimm & Durand, LLP


Farm Credit Mid-America


Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies


BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee


Sun Electric Company


Hilton Knoxville Airport


Cherokee Distributing Co., Inc.


Conner Siding & Window Company


Knoxville Convention Center


Tennessee Valley Fair


Hart Graphics, Inc.


Knoxville Harley-Davidson, Inc.


InterFaith Health Clinic


10 – 14 YEARS

Knoxville Area Association of Realtors


Knox Rail Salvage, Inc.


Appalachia Business Communications


M. S. McClellan & Company


M & L Sound, Inc.


Messer Construction Company


Tennessee Smokies Baseball Club


Michael T. Crawford Agency


American Book Company


Boy Scouts of America


Quality Machine & Welding Co., Inc.


Comcast 2004

Goodwill Industries - Knoxville, Inc.


Robert A. Brown, CPA


Swiss Technologies, Inc.


Hallsdale Powell Utility District


Russell Printing Options


Lincoln Memorial University


Bullock Smith & Partners


Sperry Van Ness/R.M. Moore


NAVARRO Research and Engineering Inc.


New York Life/Eagle Strategies LLC


Fifth Third Bank


The House Guy


Mast General Store

2006 2006


25 – 30 YEARS


20 – 24 YEARS




O’Neil, Parker & Williamson, PLLC


15-19 YEARS

Customer Service Electric Supply, Inc.


Martin Printing LLC


McKibbon Hotel Management

UT Federal Credit Union


Great West Casualty Company


Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society


ITT Technical Institute


Gulf & Ohio Railways


Above the Rest Balloon & Event Designs


Moxley Carmichael


Windstream 1998

Pinnacle Financial Partners


Roddy Vending Company, Inc.


Tennessee Equipment Supply Inc.


TDS Exhibits, Inc.


The Great Backyard Place




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TSBDC Director Larry Rossini Retires After 25 Years

Mayor Tim Burchett Addresses Premier Partners



Larry Rossini, director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center for 25 years, retired from the position on March 31. Rossini has a varied and unique professional history. During his senior year of college at Southern Arkansas University he worked part-time as a cost accountant for an apparel manufacturer, and he later became plant manager of that company after graduation. He moved to Knoxville in 1980 to become the plant manager of a London Fog raincoat manufacturing company. When the plant closed in 1988, he transferred to corporate as vice president of contract manufacturing, where he travelled the world sourcing goods from different companies. Rossini left London Fog in 1990 and started working for the TSBDC. He began his time at Walter State and later transferred to Pellissippi State in 1992 when the new office was established. “The most rewarding part of the job has been helping people accomplish their business dreams,” Rossini said. “The challenges were helping them obtain the necessary financing to accomplish these dreams.” While he looks back fondly at his time at the TSBDC, Rossini is greatly looking forward to the next chapter of his life. “For the past five years I have been studying to become a minister,” he said. “I will be ordained in June, and I plan to work for God in my retirement. I also plan to spend time with my family, especially my grandchildren.” Larry was a great asset to the TSBDC and was a long-standing partner of the Knoxville Chamber.

Knoxville Chamber Premier Partners had the opportunity to hear from Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett in an exclusive event sponsored by Pilot Flying J on Feb. 24. Mayor Burchett kicked off the discussion by reporting attendees on the state of Knox County. He described the success and growth of Knox County businesses and the strength of the local economy. “The past two years, we have seen private investment at historic levels,” said Mayor Burchett. “Fresenius Medical was a $140 million investment. That’s over 600 jobs. Lifetime products was a $115 million investment with 500 new jobs, and these are high-paying jobs.” “The credit should go to the folks in this room and the Chamber because of the good work they’ve done,” he said. He also discussed the recent rezoning of Midway Business Park and said it would serve as an important economic driver for our entire region. The mayor wrapped up the event with a question and answer session. To view a video of the entire event, visit the Knoxville Chamber’s YouTube channel.

Mike Edwards, president and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, and Mitch Steenrod, CFO of Pilot Plying J, pose for a photo at a Premier Partner event at the Chamber on Feb. 24.

‘Major Overhaul’ of Subdivision Regulations Underway BY: AMY NOLAN

The Metropolitan Planning Commission held two hearings in March on what the agency calls a “major overhaul” of the Knoxville-Knox County Minimum Subdivision Regulations. Among the changes in the draft document is requiring that sidewalks be built at the same time as the subdivision’s roads. A sidewalk would be required on just one side of the road. Tom Brechko, who works in MPC’s Subdivision and Development Plan Review, said the current practice of having sidewalks installed when a house is built has created paths that don’t connect or meet requirements of the American Disabilities Act. The sidewalk requirement is likely to be the most controversial, Brechko acknowledged,

and already a subcommittee has been created to address the issue in more detail. The proposed regulations will also incorporate recommendations included in the Hillside and Ridgetop Protection Plan, as well as new standards for public and drainage easements. Eric Moseley, partner in Volunteer Development, told planners building sidewalks “are not affordable for certain price points,” that not all homeowners seek the kind of connectivity planners are envisioning, and some proposed setback requirements are too large. The draft regulations are available at MPC’s website, Additional public meetings are expected to be scheduled.

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State Lawmakers Discuss Issues Surrounding Education Legislation BY: MACKENZIE FOX

Amy Nolan and Mike Edwards of the Knoxville Chamber pose with Rep. Roger Kane, Rep. Bill Dunn, Susan Richardson Williams, Rep. Harry Brooks, and Alan Hill of AT&T at the second 2016 Legislative Briefing on March 11.

The Knoxville Chamber hosted its second Legislative Briefing of 2016 on March 11. The discussion, sponsored by AT&T, focused on issues surrounding education in the State of Tennessee. Rep. Harry Brooks, chair of the Education Administration and Planning Committee, alongside Reps. Bill Dunn and Roger Kane, members of the House Education, Instruction, and Programs Committee, took part in the panel discussion moderated by Susan Richardson Williams, chair of the Chamber’s Government Relations Committee. The panelists were asked about a budget amendment that passed in a Senate committee, which would redirect $8 million in funding from the University of Tennessee Knoxville campus to rural programs and prevent funding of its Office of Diversity and Inclusion. This issue has been a hot topic on UT’s campus and in the media, and many constituents have contacted legislators to voice their concerns. “Some issues get so poisoned it’s hard to have a conversation about them, and I think this is one of the issues that is difficult to get to because there is so much going on out there,” said Rep. Dunn. “I’m for diversity, but I’m more about the diversity of the individual person.” Rep. Kane said the House wanted to understand exactly what the Office of Diversity and Inclusion does during a joint education committee meeting that lasted several hours. “So many people think the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is about one topic, and it’s really not,” he said. “They help minorities. They help women. They help veterans. We really wanted to understand what are we spending $5 million-plus a year to do.” “Is it the university’s job to teach diversity? It’s so Internet-based today that they are getting points of view from all over the world instantly,” Rep. Kane said. “No, I don’t want to strip all of the diversity funding, it does too many good things on campus.” However, he still questions exactly what activities the office is funding and if its efforts are successful enough to warrant the dollars. Additional issues covered during the hour-long briefing included state funding of local schools, standardized testing, and Gov. Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative. To watch a video of the discussion its entirety, please visit the Chamber’s YouTube channel.


Johnnie Creel and the Creel Group Named the number one team for Keller Williams Knoxville 2015, real estate veteran Johnnie Creel has dedicated herself to building a results-based business. A Baton Rouge, La. native, Creel earned a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Louisiana State University (LSU). She has been licensed in real estate in Tennessee, Rhode Island, and Louisiana for more than 30 years. Prior to arriving in Tennessee, Creel served as both auditor and investigator for the Louisiana Real Estate Commission. She also helped write the United States’ first appraisal law. In 2008, Creel was one of the founders of Keller Williams Realty Knoxville. Through continuing real estate education, Johnnie holds the ABR, CIPS, CRS, ePro, and GRI designations, as well as the titles of Luxury Home Consultant, Historic Property Specialist, and Zillow Premier Agent. As a Global Property Specialist, her listings are available to 50,000 agents worldwide. Hard work, thinking outside of the box, and dedication to her clients have all contributed to her success. “You can’t ever give up,” Creel said. The Creel Group combines her 28-plus years of experience in real estate, a selling team consisting of a buyer’s agent, and a full-time executive assistant. Additionally, The Creel Group includes a drone photographer, aerial photographer, professional home stager, landscaper, and an extensive list of professional vendors providing a wide range of services. “When I first started in real estate, marketing was primarily directed toward print. I have been lucky enough to see the rise of technology in real estate,” said Creel. “Marketing is something I enjoy and something I’ve built my brand around. I still use traditional word of mouth, direct mail outs, and combine them with new marketing techniques.” Pairing her thorough market research with the available marketing technology of Keller Williams Realty enables The Creel Group to provide each listing client with a specialized marketing campaign designed specifically for their home. The Creel Group advertises each home 24 hours a day, seven days a week, not only with traditional real estate marketing avenues such as print ads and direct mailing, but also utilizing the power of the Internet with cutting-edge technology through Craigslist, blogging, and social media marketing. Employing cutting-edge market information, Creel carefully advises each seller about home repairs and improvements that maximize the asking price, and then provides the best possible vendors through her vast network of resources. From inception to realization, Creel and her team are committed to navigating clients’ entire sale process, from listing to closing. “We draw on our expertise to sell each and every home, seamlessly, for top-market value,” Creel said.

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Upcoming Lunch to Examine Communication Between Genders BY: JESSICA KARSTEN

The next installment in the popular Women on the Rise to Shine series, presented by SunTrust, will be a lunch and learn at Bridgewater Place on April 13. Amanda Johns Vaden, a founding partner of Southwestern Consulting, will present “Unspoken – Redefining Men and Women in the World of Work.” She is a leading expert on reducing client turnover and helping businesses and salespeople grow sales by retaining and strengthening relations with their existing clients. Vaden holds degrees in Advertising and Business from the University of Tennessee, where she focused on creating direct selling techniques between genders. After performing hundreds of sales interviews in dozens of industries over the course of four years, Vaden has cracked the codes of communicating with the opposite gender. Her often humorous recap of the research brings clarity and empowering insights into understanding and relating to the subtle differences between how men and women think in today’s business environment. The lunch and learn will examine gender similarities in verbal and non-verbal communication, the underlying meaning behind words, the nuances of dress and appearance, and the overall structure of how men and women react, buy, and sell just a little bit differently. The presentation is meant to help increase effective communication between men and women, which increases overall productivity and efficiencies in the everyday work environment. The Women on the Rise to Shine professional development series launched in October 2015 as a partnership between the Knoxville Chamber and SunTrust. Focused on issues relevant to working women, the series presents women-centric programming in hopes of further developing female professionals. The event’s lunch and networking period will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., and the program will be from 12 to 1 p.m. The cost to attend is $30 for Chamber members and $40 for non-members. To find out more information or to register for the event, please visit the events page on


APRIL 1 Legislative Briefing

Panel Discussion – Session Wrap-Up 8 – 9 a.m. • Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square PRESENTED BY:

APRIL 13 Women on the Rise to Shine Series Lunch and Learn “Unspoken - Redefining expectations between men and women in the world of work” by Amanda Johns Vaden, Southwestern Consulting 11:30 a.m. -12 p.m. – Lunch and Networking • 12 – 1 p.m. – Program $30 for members; $40 for non-members Bridgewater Place, 205 Bridgewater Rd., 37923 PRESENTED BY:

APRIL 19 Bright Ideas Seminar: Free Google Tools to Enhance Scheduling & Time Management Presented by Jason Caudill, King University 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. • Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square $25 for Members; $40 for non-members PRESENTED BY:

APRIL 22 a.m. Exchange at Fort Sanders Health & Fitness 8 – 9 a.m. • 270 Fort Sanders W. Boulevard, 37922 SPONSORED BY:

APRIL 27 Premier Partner Event featuring Ken Lowe, chairman, president and CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. • 9721 Sherrill Blvd, 37932

Exclusive to Premier Partners Only Go to “Chamber Events” on to learn more or register for any of these events. You may also call the events line, (865) 246-2622

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April 2016 Commerce  
April 2016 Commerce