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pg. 53

INSIDE: Shrimp Boil recap pg. 56 + Monthly Economic Indicators pg. 58

Membership Matters RIBBON CUTTING

CONNECT 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.

with the



Daniel Monday

(1st Place) Slamdot, Inc.


Kimberly-Clark celebrated the grand opening of its new Knoxville location for the company’s shared services operations. Pictured from left to right are: Mike Stohr, VP North Atlantic Shared Services; Christi Branscom, City of Knoxville; Jane Nerison, Senior Director of Benefits; David Jacobi, Director of Facilities Management Knoxville; Ted Banker, NA Shared Services Director; Mark Buthman, Senior VP and CEO; Knoxville City Mayor Madeline Rogero; Steve Harmon, VP Transportation; Mike Edwards, Knoxville Chamber; Rhonda Rice, Knoxville Chamber; Kim Garvin, Human Resources; Brent Russ, IT Team Leader.

(2nd Place)

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

Archer Design & Marketing

Angie Hatcher-Sledge (3rd Place) Knox Area Rescue Ministries

New Members / New Premier Partners BRONZE

EnterpriseAxis (865) 392-5220 Business & Professional Services Services:Technical Services Services:Web Design & Hosting Red Chair Architects (865) 633-9058 Residential Services: Interior Design Architectural & Engineering Services:Architects Volcue, LLC (865) 588-8008 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places

AirCool Heating & Air (865) 249-6224 Building Materials: Air Conditioning, Heating, and Climate Control

Alzheimer’s Association of Eastern Tennessee (865) 200-6668 Social Services: Senior Services Blue Diamond Pool Service Inc. (865) 454-0611 Construction & Contractors: Residential Capital Bank (865) 218-5767 Financial Services: Banks Cork’s Wine and Spirits (865) 675-2675 Shopping: Liquor & Wine Cru Bistro and Wine Bar Downtown (865) 544-1491 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places Energy, Technology & Environmental Business Association (865) 591-8776 Associations & Organizations

Family Psychology Group - Educational and Behavioral Solutions (865) 247-4055 Healthcare Providers & Services: Psychologists First Citizens Bank (865) 288-6130 Financial Services: Banks Flexible Concrete Solutions (865) 253-5618 Construction & Contractors Hall of Fame Fireproof Storage (865) 541-6241 Distribution/Warehousing/Logistics Heartland Payment Systems (865) 201-8804 Business & Professional Services: Credit Card Equipment & Processing Payroll, & Collection Services Holly’s Eventful Dining (865) 300-8071 Event Planning, Catering, & Venues: Catering

Island Home Park Health and Rehab (865) 573-9621 www.islandhomeparkhealthandrehab. com Social Services:Senior Services

Puleo’s Grille - Cedar Bluff (865) 691-1960 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places

Knoxville Plumbing LLC (865) 922-9490 Construction & Contractors: Plumbing

Rocky Hill Storage (865) 539-8020 Residential Services: Storage

Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA, Inc. (865) 694-2326 Office Equipment, Supplies & Services

Shuck Raw Bar & Ale (865) 329-0000 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places

MyNextSuite, LLC (865) 392-9040 Real Estate: Corporate Relocation Office Space - Commercial

Southern Vintage (865) 531-7333 Shopping: Specialty

The Preserve at Hardin Valley Apartment Homes (865) 789-2310 Apartments

Nama - Bearden (865) 588-9811 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places, LLC (865) 392-9000 Employment, Career, & Staffing Services

Trio Cafe (865) 246-2270 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places

Paychex, Inc. (865) 202-0582 Business & Professional Services

Sunny Hall - State Farm Agent (865) 584-2563 Insurance

















Surface Doc, Deep Cleaning and Restoration (865) 567-1986 Building & Grounds Maintenance: Cleaning Services & Supplies The Gingrich Team, LLC (865) 392-9050 Business & Professional Services: Business Advisors & Consultants

New School Year, New Initiatives Will Help Improve Student Success


s schools open for another year of classes, improved education outcomes remain a high priority for the business community and the Knoxville Chamber continues to support reforms that increase student proficiency levels in a timely manner. Utilizing its five-year strategic plan “Excellence for all Children” as a roadmap, the Knox County Schools continue to make strides. The plan, which was launched in 2009, has led to steady advances in student proficiency. However, there is still plenty of ground to cover in order to ensure students are prepared for gainful employment in the new global economy. “While Tennessee has made significant gains in the past three years, the business community cannot wait for another generation to pass by for the rates of proficiency and skills to be where they need to be,” emphasized Jennifer Evans, vice president of public policy for the Chamber. Superintendent Jim McIntyre and his administration continue to make datadriven decisions to improve student success, and several new and expanded programs will be implemented this fall. A few of the highlights on tap for this fall include full adoption of higher academic standards, an expanding reach for STEM education, increased introduction of technological devices in the classroom, and growth of community-based schooling.

Raising The Bar In 2011, the state of Tennessee adopted Common Core State Standards for its K-12 classrooms. After testing the standards at the elementary and middle school levels for the past two years, Knox County Schools will implement them for all grade levels this school year. The standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn by the end of each school year. This helps parents and educators know what they need to do to help students get to that point. “Common Core standards seek to better prepare students for post-secondary study and the workforce by providing more emphasis on fundamental knowledge and skills, encouraging problem solving over memorization,” Evans said. “Common Core makes it very clear what students need to know after high school in order to be successful.” Common Core standardizes and raises expectations in the classroom and allows students to compete with peers across the country. Individual states are still responsible for dictating curriculum, teacher training, and identifying textbooks.

See “Student Success” on pg. 54

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“Student Success” continued from pg. 53 The Expect More, Achieve More Coalition, a statewide alliance of more than 200 business, community, and education organizations, including the Chamber, has been an active proponent of Common Core. A recent survey conducted by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education found that after hearing a brief description of the Common Core standards, three out of four voters in Tennessee support the initiative. “These standards are imperative to our state’s success and they need the continued support from our community,” Evans said. “We need the business community to get engaged in the debate about Common Core and refute any state-level discussions to move away from the standards.” To voice support for these standards, visit “SpeakUp4Biz” in the Public Policy section of and sign the Common Core pledge.

Expanding STEM’s Reach and Impact In recent years, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, subject areas have taken center stage in K-12 education with the L&N STEM Academy opening in 2011 and STEMspark, the East Tennessee STEM Education hub, launching in 2012. The L&N STEM Academy, which is the flagship school of STEMspark, emphasizes real-world problem-solving skills in its instruction. Empowered by scientific reasoning, technological expertise, engineering design, and mathematical logic, students are able to take away useful skills for a variety of career paths. The L&N STEM Academy has partnered with businesses in the community to enhance the learning experience for its students. “Our partners help write authentic problems for student teams to tackle, they present informal chats about what their jobs are really like, and they host field trips and mentorship experiences for students,” Becky Ashe, L&N STEM Academy principal and STEM coordinator for the Knox County Schools said. “Our next step is to share with other schools in the region the tools we’re creating to do all these things.” The school currently has 505 students enrolled in grades 9 through 12. Ashe said admission is based solely on a lottery system and there are typically 70 students on the waiting list. “Our message is to get our region’s residents to understand that STEM is not a content or subject area like math or English, but rather it is the intersection of content knowledge when it is applied in real-world scenarios,” Ashe said. A second STEM-focused school has recently joined the L&N STEM Academy in the region. The Clayton-Bradley STEM Academy in Blount County opened on July 19. To learn more about STEM education and the STEMspark initative, visit www.

Plugging Into the Classroom For some time, the Knox County Schools has been evaluating how to tailor the classroom learning experience for each student. As a result, the system is starting to implement the concept of Personal Learning Environments, or PLE. PLE transforms the traditional classroom into an environment where students’ needs are assessed and met on an individual level. Instruction is then personalized to the individual student’s aptitude. Elizabeth Alves, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Knox County Schools, said the aim of a PLE is for teachers to know the student from a variety of aspects – skill level, interests, learn-

ing styles – not just their academic record. “If teachers can really know their students and meet them where they are, we believe they can significantly accelerate the learning process, particularly for those who are behind,” Alves said. “(It also helps) our students who are ready to move ahead.” One of the ways the Knox County Schools plans to personalize learning is through the School Technology Challenge which was launched earlier this year. Out of 28 applications, 11 schools were selected to implement a 1:1 technology effort in their classrooms this fall with each teacher and student receiving a device. The selected schools will receive iPads and MacBook Pro laptops to integrate into their instructional plans. Alves said students in grade levels 6 through 12 will each be assigned a MacBook Pro, while younger students will use classroomdesignated iPads and MacBook Pros. Theresa Nixon was recently appointed Director of Instructional Technology/Personalized Learning to oversee the 11-school project. Corryton Elementary School is one of the winning schools. Principal Jamie Snyder said her teachers and students are all ecstatic about winning the Challenge. Snyder said that when it came to figuring out how they wanted to use the technology in their classrooms, they listened to the students. “Our children told us how they wanted to learn,” Snyder explained. “They wanted to be able to create things that could tell their story – create with applications or create through connecting with people, whether it be in the classroom or in another country.” Snyder added, “It’s researching beyond the walls of their classroom and beyond what they’ve ever been able to do before.” Teachers spent two weeks over the summer learning the selected devices, as well as training on instructional tools and applications for integration into their classrooms. Corryton teachers Kristie Hees and Missy Warden both participated in the training. “We’re excited as a staff,” said Hees, who teaches third grade. “We’re all on the same page and we’re all in this together, so it’s not as nerve-wracking.” Kindergarten teacher Warden added, “They love iPads and computers. For them it’s natural and it’s what they’re used to.” Both teachers said they plan on using their devices to reinforce the lessons they’re teaching in the classroom. Snyder said that while the technology will be available, it won’t be integrated in all subject areas right away. They will be starting off on a smaller scale and use this school year to figure out the right balance of technology for each grade level.

Engaging the Community Student success in the classroom isn’t just dependent on academic aptitude –family involvement; neighborhood safety and stability; the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing of the child and caregivers; and family resources, all play significant roles. With this in mind, the Knox County Schools has embraced the community schools concept, which was proven to be successful in a pilot program started at Pond Gap Elementary in 2010. The program turns the school into a community hub providing resources for the immediate area it serves. The program, which was in four schools last year: Pond Gap Elementary, Green Magnet Math and Science Academy, Lonsdale Elementary, and Norwood Elementary, is expanding to three more at the start of the 2013-14 school year: Christenberry Elementary, Sarah Moore Green Magnet Academy, and Vine Middle Magnet School.

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Innovation Valley Launches New Website Innovation Valley has launched its new website – The site aims to be the primary online resource for businesses looking to locate or expand in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge region. Innovation Valley is a regional economic initiative that provides worldclass resources in science, technology, and business. The new website provides site selectors and businesses looking to locate in the region with information such as tax incentives, maps, available office and industrial space, and data sheets on cost of living, average salary, and demographics. “When businesses and site selection consultants begin their search for a new

location, their first stop for information is the Web,” said Doug Lawyer, vice president of economic development of the Knoxville Chamber. “It’s critical to have the most current information available in an easy to find format. The updated Innovation Valley website does just that.” Additionally, the site will feature Innovation Valley’s Blueprint 2.0 – its second fiveyear strategic plan for business growth that the initiative is currently implementing. “The new website provides an excellent overview of the economic development efforts of Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley, which is extremely important to current and potential investors,” said Rhonda Rice, executive vice president at the Knoxville Chamber. “Companies wanting to locate or grow in the Innovation Valley will find our strengths and assets that have consistently made this region a best place for business.“ For more information on Innovation Valley and to view its new website visit, Knoxville Chamber Intern Kayla Witt contributed to this article.

Low Airfare Initiative Recruiting Private-Sector Partners The Competitive Airfare Partnership kicked off its privatesector campaign with a breakfast at the Knoxville Chamber on June 26. CAP is part of an Innovation Valley strategy to encourage business relocation and industrial development efforts. The partnership, which consists of the city of Knoxville, Knox County, Innovation Valley, Inc., Visit Knoxville, and the Knoxville Chamber, is currently recruiting members from the private sector to join its mission to bring additional low-fare carriers to the Knoxville market. “The cost of air service in and out of TYS is something that affects everyone: private businesses, governments, and tourists alike,” said Doug Lawyer, vice president of economic development for the Knoxville Chamber. “The effort to lower airfares will be a marathon process and not a sprint.” Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero attended the breakfast to show their support for the partnership.

“Air travel is incredibly important to all of us – government, business, and individuals who live here who travel for leisure,” Rogero said. “We are committed to working with (the partnership). We know it’s not an easy problem to solve, but we know it’s incredibly important.” Representatives from Clayton Homes, Radio Systems, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Pilot Flying J, to name a few, were present to learn more about the initiative and how to invest. The partnership’s goal is to raise $3 million to entice low-fare carriers to McGhee Tyson Airport. Securing a low-fare carrier would help lower ticket prices across the board for more affordable travel from McGhee Tyson. “I’m thankful for the support CAP has received thus far, and look forward to continuing outreach about the importance of this effort,” Lawyer said. For more information on CAP or on how to become part of the partnership, contact Doug Lawyer at (865) 637-4550 or

Knox County Schools Receives Prestigious Grant From Gates Foundation Knox County Schools has been selected to receive a significant grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Valued at $1.2 million, the grant will fund the Spend Money Smartly initiative, which will ensure school system resources are being effectively used. “(The grant) will enhance the work of the Knox County Schools, ensuring that we are allocating our financial resources to the maximum educational benefit of our children and that our community is seeing the greatest possible return on our instructional investments,” said Dr. Jim McIntyre, superintendent of the Knox County Schools. Knox County is one of only four school districts in the nation to receive funding from the Gates Foundation. McIntyre said the work the school system has already done in using resources effectively played a big part in winning the grant. “Our willingness to make hard financial decisions, evaluate programs, reallocate dollars from administrative to instructional areas, and develop the extensive ‘return on

investment’ report in 2012 were tremendous assets in this extremely competitive selection process,” McIntyre said. EMIS, the Education Management Information System the Knoxville Chamber was involved with implementing four years ago, also provided the groundwork for data collection and analysis that made Knox County fitting for this grant. Knox County Schools is partnering with The Parthenon Group and Educational Resources Strategies to perform analysis on the system’s use of time, human capital, and program investment. “The effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars is always a priority of the Board of Education and the Knox County Schools,” said Karen Carson, chairwoman of the Knox County Board of Education. “’Smart spending’ means making sure that hard-earned resources of our citizens are put to effective and efficient use. I look forward to seeing the results of the grant.”

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Monthly Economic Indicators

(June 2013)

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



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

% Change June ’12June ‘13

June 2013

May 2013

June 2012

% Change May ’13June ‘13

236,290 371,820 3,143,300 157,089,000

235,040 369,660 3,125,500 155,734,000

243,790 384,570 3,152,900 156,385,000

0.5 0.6 0.6 0.8

-3.1 -3.3 -0.3 0.5

336,300 2,749,800

339,700 2,771,600

328,400 2,707,900

-1.0 -0.8

2.4 1.5

19,160 30,950 310,790

17,630 28,280 287,400

17,880 29,440 301,200

8.7 9.4 8.1

7.2 5.1 3.2

7.3 7.5 8.8 7.8

6.8 7.0 8.3 7.3

6.7 7.0 8.7 8.4

0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5

0.6 0.5 0.1 -0.6

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

Non-Ag Employment Knoxville MSA Tennessee

Residential Closings Residential Inventory Median Residential Price

June 2013 1,325 15,272 $148,950

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 June ’11June ‘13 0.3 0.1

June ’12-‘13

May ’12-‘13

June ’11-‘12

1.9 1.8

1.3 1.4

1.6 1.7

0.6 0.4

% Change June ’12June ‘13

Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee

June 2013

May 2013

June 2012

% Change May ’13June ‘13

47,861,990 67,742,817 596,579,750

46,670,830 65,687,018 584,794,951

47,458,318 66,464,916 589,616,339

2.6 3.1 2.0

0.9 1.9 1.2

12,996,264 18,356,920

13,189,970 18,398,079

2.3 2.2

0.8 2.0

May 2013* 74 18 56

May 2012 9 9 0

Knox Co.

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

167 109 58

75 75 0

122.7 45.3

Knoxville MSA

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

205 147 58

100 100 0

105.0 47.0


Total Single-Family Multi-Family

1,937 1,410 527

1,789 1,138 651

8.3 23.9 -19.0

*All 2013 building permit data is preliminary and therefore subject to revision throughout the year.

% Change June ’12June ‘13 3.7 6.1 3.4 -2.3 1.1 1.7 1.6 3.3 0.7 0.7 1.9 7.8 11.5 0.2


Passengers Cargo

May 2013 155,164 7,409,392

April 2013 137,011 6,610,048

May 2012 157,199 8,087,471

Source: Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority

Local Sales Tax Knox Co. Knoxville MSA

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

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


13,300,633 18,760,439

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

June 2013 420,645 28,642 19,572 7,611 53,550 46,292 8,022 47,402 53,817 22,543 10,535 81,508 34,074

May 2013 444,572 34,108 21,346 7,734 56,107 48,524 8,253 48,518 55,431 24,059 11,597 86,213 35,760

405,484 26,988 18,926 7,789 52,977 45,510 7,892 45,873 53,440 22,382 10,343 75,587 30,555

% Change May ’13June ‘13 -5.4 -16.0 -8.3 -1.6 -4.6 -4.6 -2.8 -2.3 -2.9 -6.3 -9.2 -5.5 -4.7





June 2012

% Change May ’12May ‘13 722.2 100.0

Knoxville (City)

- All Items

% Change May ’12June ‘13

June 2012 1,115 14,767 $138,600

% Change June ’12June ‘13 18.8 3.4 7.5

Source: Knoxville Area Association of Realtors

Available Labor Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee

May 2013 1,323 15,090 $146,725

% Change May ’13June ‘13 0.2 1.2 1.5

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

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EST. 1869

% Change April ’13May ‘13 13.2 12.1

% Change May ’12May ‘13 -1.3 -8.4


For 13 years, All Occasion Catering has been serving up wedding receptions, parties, and picnics in the Knoxville community. While food is the focus of the business, top-notch customer service is the driver behind the business’s success. Owned and operated by Neal and Susan Green, the company caters 1,200 to 1,300 events per year. The husband-and-wife duo purchased the catering business in 2000 and initially operated it as a part-time venture off Sevier Avenue in South Knoxville. As the company grew, the Greens saw an increased demand from their customers to have cash bars at events. To satisfy that need, the company moved in 2009 to its current location on Central Avenue in North Knoxville. “It was the worst economy to build, borrow money, and, what most people perceive, the worst time to do business,” Neal Green said. “But we knew we had to meet that customer need and our banquet hall would give us requirements for our off-site liquor license.” Green said that despite the economic uncertainty in 2008 and 2009, their business has only grown. “The good news about catering is it’s the last to see the effects of a recession,” Green said. “People are still going to have weddings. Businesses are still going to take care of their employees with picnics and parties.” All Occasion Catering employs nearly 40 regular staff members and has approximately 125 event staffers. The company caters events ranging from 20 people to 40,000. Green said he thinks the company’s employees, customer service, and willingness to get the job done no matter what the circumstances are really what sets All Occasion Catering apart from the rest. “I wish Susan and I could take credit for our success, but the truth is we have some of the greatest employees out there,” Green said. “Customer service is a main priority for us.” The company has gained national recognition for its impeccable service. In 2012 the company was accepted into an exclusive group of the nation’s top independent caterers, called Top Gun. To become a Top Gun caterer, the company must be among the top three in its marketplace in sales, service, creativity, and ability to deliver a great event to the customer. Green said one of the most rewarding and humbling aspects of owning All Occasion Catering is the impact it has had on the community. “I think our charity and giving comes back to us ten-fold in business,” Green said. “It’s another thing that has made us a better company.” He added, “We didn’t really start in this business to be mega rich. We started it to make a good living, help people out, and serve the community. Hopefully we do that.”

Help Us Improve Our Service The Knoxville Chamber has launched a new customer satisfacton survey to gauge how it’s serving the community. Melissa Spangler, vice president of member services for the Knoxville Chamber, said the survey will help the organization gauge its customer service satisfaction by identifying what services it’s excelling at and which services need improvement. “We’re a membership organization and our focus, beyond being here to create jobs and a better economy, is on our members,” Spangler said. “This survey is very important to us in order to learn how well we’re meeting their needs. We need to make sure we are delivering the best customer service.” The Chamber encourages members and non-members to take the two-minute survey on its website, Respondents who complete the survey are entered to win a $50 Pilot Flying J gas card that is given away quarterly. “The survey responses aren’t just data,” Spangler said. “We’re going to use them to make a better chamber for this area.”


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Mike Edwards: Common Core Necessary for Students to Succeed The state of Tennessee recognized in 2007 that our K-12 public education standards were not preparing students adequately for either their transition into higher-education or their progression into the workforce. Our state was not alone in this failure. In Knox County only one in five students is adequately prepared for success in the workplace or the college classroom. As a result of this startling realization, business leaders, educators, state elected officials, parents, and many other stakeholders set about to change our public education standards. Since an algebra problem is solved the same in Ohio as it is in Oregon, state leaders from across the country decided to collaborate on the tedious and time-consuming details of sweeping education reform. (As a side note, Tennessee’s standards had fallen so low that by 2007 there were only a couple of algebra questions on the end-of-course exam in order to make the test easier and help designate Tennessee students as “proficient.”) The outcome of the collaborative state-level effort is known as the Common Core State Standards. Common Core provides a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. There are 45 states committed to the Common Core State Standards, but it is important to note that the states decided, independently, whether or not to adopt the standards. Now and for reasons not at all clear to me, opposition to Common Core has arisen and could threaten its adoption. The two most commonly heard reasons are: Common Core is a federal take-over of public education, dictating what students learn, thus making it a Stalin-like Obama plan (no kidding, really); and that each state does not need outsiders telling it what or how to teach. Again, Common Core was an effort undertaken by states and their governors long before President Barack Obama was elected. Additionally, Common Core is not a curriculum. It is a standard. State and district leaders determine how to teach the subjects and skills. American businesses, large and small, have been the major driver in identifying the need for the Common Core State Standards, and the business community will be a major loser should it be repealed. Actually, I would argue that we lose as a society if we continue preparing only one out of five students to lead productive lives after high school. And let me emphasize that you don’t have to go to college to live a productive life – but the skills needed for entering the workforce directly from high school have changed as well. If people want to work, they must have the knowledge to fill tomorrow’s jobs. I ask you to join me in voicing your support of the Common Core State Standards, by visiting the Public Policy section of and signing the Common Core Pledge. We will be sharing all the signed pledges with our state-level elected officials.

Mike Edwards is the president and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber. He represents the 2nd Congressional District on the Tennessee State Board of Education, is Chairman of the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, and is a Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.


Rob Betler BB&T Market President As market president for BB&T, Rob Betler has been in charge of managing and optimizing the company’s commercial banking functions for nearly 10 years and in Knoxville for the past year. Betler’s role also includes providing sales leadership through coaching employees, and working on integrating the retail and commercial teams in Knoxville to ensure BB&T executes the top-notch customer service. “At BB&T it is important that our clients and prospects know that we will be reliable, responsive, empathic and competent while delivering solutions for their business needs,” Betler said. BB&T was founded in 1872 in Winston-Salem, N.C. The company and its subsidiaries offer full-service commercial and retail banking and other financial services such as insurance, investments, retail brokerage, corporate finance, asset management, and trust. BB&T has eight financial centers in Knoxville with more than 100 employees total. Betler said despite the financial crisis, BB&T as proved to be one of the most resilient banks in the country. He said BB&T was one of only three large regional banks in the country to remain profitable during the “Great Recession.” In fact, Bloomberg Markets Magazine ranked BB&T on its list of the top 20 strongest banks in the world in 2012. “A driving force behind BB&T’s success is that BB&T is a mission-driven organization with a clearly defined set of values,” Betler said. “Specifically, our mission is to make the world a better place to live by: helping our clients achieve economic success and financial security; creating a place where our associates can learn, grow, and be fulfilled in their work; making the communities in which we work better places to be thereby optimizing the long-term return to our shareholders, while providing a safe and sound investment.” Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Betler said Knoxville is a place he, his wife, and their three children call home. “Knoxville provides us with so many opportunities not only from work, but also personally,” Betler said. “Having the Knoxville Zoo, Tennessee and Bijou Theatres, the University of Tennessee, a vibrant downtown, Knoxville Museum of Art, a great medical community, as well as a great school system makes it easy to call Knoxville home.”

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East Tennessee STEM Hub Launches New Website STEMspark, East Tennessee’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education hub, has launched its new website,, which will host STEM-related content for its partners, educators, students, and parents. STEMspark is part of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network and the nationwide STEMx coalition. The hub is a partnership of educational, business, scientific, research institutions, and community partners that have been organized to promote and support high-quality STEM education. “The new website will serve as a repository for all types of STEM information and

is very user driven,” said Crystal Brooks, public policy assistant for the Knoxville Chamber. “Students in the STEM field can go to the site and find information for a science project they are doing, or teachers can go to connect with other teachers and find out what they are teaching and get ideas.” The STEMspark website is designed to serve as an interactive central resource for users to share STEM-related content, with an overall goal of supporting STEM’s main areas of focus. “The website is a wonderful forum for students, parents, educators, and businesses to converse and interact with one another,” Brooks said. “It’s important that users generate content for a more robust exchange.” The website will also provide information on scholarships, internships, and grants, in addition to STEM events, news, and lessons. STEMspark serves 23 school districts across 13 counties and seven institutes of higher education in the region. For more information, visit the website at Knoxville Chamber Intern Kayla Witt contributed to this article.

PROPEL Mentor/Protégé Profile Protégé: Jennifer Moore, Mesa Technologies Mentor: Stacy Lang, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Stacy Lang of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters says being a mentor in the Knoxville Chamber’s Propel Mentor/Protégé program has given her some unexpected benefits. “Interesting enough, it offered an opportunity to re-live and share past experiences,” Lang said. “To become excited about the work I had accomplished, and to realize how much business knowledge I’ve got stored inside my head that can be truly helpful to others. It also got my creative juices flowing.” Lang has been mentoring Jennifer Moore of Mesa Technologies. The company is a minority-, woman-owned small business that provides custom equipment, machines, and automation systems to a variety of clients in the automotive, chemicals, food & drug, medical, power generation industries, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Energy. Lang said her role as a mentor is to help keep the protégé Moore from “re-inventing the wheel.” “Being a mentor is akin to being a storyteller who frames thoughts and experiences in a way that sparks intuition and transferable skills that allows the protégé to have a vision of how they can tailor a situation in a way that works for them,” Lang said. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is a rising national brand leader in the single-cup coffee industry and is expanding its footprint in the soda market

as well. GMCR has learned how to compete and work with their competition by partnering with coffee companies like Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks. When asked what they have learned from this market leader, Moore said, “The three main things we have learned are the importance of investing in our people, understanding our customer’s needs by keeping open communication lines, and to continually tailor our product to our customers’ changing environment.” Moore said that having a mentor is critical to any business owner. She remarked that a significant amount of business cost comes from not knowing what you don’t know. “The mentor helps you see around the curve ahead so that your company is in a more proactive state instead of the reactive state,” Moore said. “Most small businesses tend to be in a reactive state most of the time.” Because of the mentorship from GMCR, Mesa Technologies is doing a better job of balancing between hiring talent and training talent, and finding the balance between the two. They have also learned how to better tailor their message and capabilities to the customer’s needs. “The improvements we have made are having a bigger impact on our profitability rather than revenue,” Moore said. “We are learning to do business smarter.” She remarked that they anticipate accelerated growth in profitability with a more controlled growth in revenues. For more information about Propel’s Mentor/Protégé Program, call program director Doug Minter at (865) 246-2662 or email him at

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UT LIFESTAR Helicopter Lands At BAH


August 13 New Member Orientation 4-6 p.m. Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square Sponsored by:

August 15 Business After Hours at the Knoxville News Sentinel Open 4:30 – 7 p.m. Fox Den Country Club, 12284 North Fox Den Drive Exclusive event for Chamber members only. Pre-Registration REQUIRED!

Representatives from UT LIFESTAR, AirMedCare Networks, and the Knoxville Chamber stand in front of a UT LIFESTAR helicopter at Gettysvue Polo, Golf and Country Club on July 11. Left to right: Ron Dethless, Travis Estes, Jeff Gregory, Mark Field, Walter Cook, Jean Hickman, Chance Owen, Devona Wright, and Andrew Slemp.

Sponsored by:

Nearly 150 guests gathered at the Gettysvue Polo, Golf and Country Club on July 11 for the Knoxville Chamber’s Business After Hours, sponsored by AirMedCare Network. The event highlighted AirMedCare Network’s membership program, which is the largest air ambulance membership program in the United States. UT LIFESTAR is a part of the network and serves a 150 nautical mile radius around Knoxville. The evening culminated with a visit from a UT LIFESTAR helicopter for guests to tour. The door prize for the evening -- an AirMedCare membership -- went to Monica Flatford of the Knoxville Convention Center.

August 21 Dale Carnegie Employee Engagement Seminar “How the Best Senior Leaders Pave the Way to Engagement” 7:30 – 9:30 a.m. Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square $25 for Chamber Members/$35 for Non-Members Presented by:

Visit our YouTube channel to watch a video from the event.

September 19 a.m. Exchange

Premier Partner Event

8-9 a.m. Image Matters, 3017 Sutherland Ave. Sponsored by: Catering Sponsor:

September 26 Schmoozapalooza 4-7 p.m. Knoxville Civic Coliseum, 500 Howard Baker Jr. Ave. $10 (Chamber Members can save $5 by pre-registering online prior to Sept. 24)

TVA’s new president and CEO Bill Johnson recently spoke at a Knoxville Chamber Premier Partner Event, sponsored by Ernst & Young. Pictured left to right: Josh Trusley of Ernst & Young, Knoxville Chamber Chairman Patrick Birmingham, Bill Johnson, Randy Gregson of Ernst & Young, Jessica Donan of Ernst & Young, and Matt Heuer of Ernst & Young.

Sponsored By:

Sponsored by: Media Sponsors:

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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Commerce August 2013  
Commerce August 2013  

The official newsletter of the Knoxville Chamber.