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INSIDE: Legislative Scorecard pg. 48 + 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.





(2nd Place Tie)


(2nd Place Tie)


The Early Learning Center for Research and Practice at the University of Tennessee celebrated the opening of its garden with a ribbon cutting. From left to right: James Overall, Kindergartener; Travis Burnett, ELC Assistant Teacher; Sara Phillips with the Alliance of Women Philanthropists; Lindsey Lawyer, Preschooler; Kathryn Humber, Lead Teacher; and Lulu Atwood, Preschooler.

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




(3rd Place Tie)

(3rd Place Tie)

(3rd Place Tie)




NEW MEMBERS / NEW PREMIER PARTNERS Agave Azule Mexican Grill and Tequila Bar (865) 212-9966 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places All Star Outfitters (865) 622-1183 Business & Professional Services: Promotional Products Avideo Company, Inc. (865) 919-4900 Audio-Visual Services CitySpace Realty (865) 455-8889 Real Estate: Rentals Dickens Turf and Landscape Supply (865) 588-1993 Building & Grounds Maintenance: Landscaping

Downtown Rickshaw (865) 455-8889 Transportation EOTI (865) 200-8081 Environmental Services & Equipment Express Blinds of Knoxville (865) 730-4880 Residential Services: Window Treatments Fairfield Inn & Suites Knoxville West (865) 392-1122 Hotels & Lodging Gage Talent Agency (865) 588-8815 Event Planning, Catering, & Venues: Talent Agencies

Hot Bagel Company, Inc. (865) 482-2435 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places: Sweet Treats & Bakeries

Larson Engineering, Inc. (423) 487-3349 Environmental Services & Equipment: Consultants

Schakolad Chocolate Factory (865) 675-2626 Shopping: Specialty

Impact Dental Seminars (877) 496-0300 Healthcare Providers & Services: Dentists

Mike Baker Insurance Consulting (865) 399-0518 Insurance

Single Source (865) 567-0042 Automotive Sales, Parts, & Service: Body Repairing & Painting

Indeed Marketing, Inc. (865) 242-1422 Business & Professional Services: Marketing

My Plumber, Inc. (865) 609-6080 Construction & Contractors: Plumbing

Soaring Eagle Campground (865) 376-9017 Attractions & Tourism

Joe Neubert Collision Centers (865) 525-9908 Automotive Sales, Parts, & Service:Body Repairing & Painting

Pack and Mail Plus, Inc. (865) 804-5637 Business & Professional Services: Mailing & Fulfillment

Southeast Spine and Pain Associates (865) 633-9469 Healthcare Providers & Services

Knoxville Sports & Social Club (865) 622-7600 Sports & Recreation

Pinnacle Financial Partners Cedar Bluff (865) 602-3600 Financial Services: Banks

Stock & Barrel Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places

















The Grounds Guys of Knoxville (865) 622-9089 Building & Grounds Maintenance: Landscaping The Knoxville Focus (865) 686-9970 Newspapers - Newspapers Vol Menus (610) 742-0047 Restaurant Supplies & Services

Green Initiatives Enhance Quality Of Life In Knoxville


noxville has always offered a great quality of life for residents and visitors alike. With a vibrant downtown, excellent shopping, fine dining, outdoor activities, and college sports, it really has it all. For the past few years, Knoxville has been ranked as one of the best value cities to live in, as well as one of the best cities in which to retire. In December, the Brookings Institution even named it as one of the few cities to fully recover after the recession. However, while Knoxville may be the home of the Tennessee Volunteers, it’s looking a little more green than orange these days. Businesses and organizations around the city have embraced a wide variety of green initiatives to decrease their carbon footprint. “So many places try to go green for the sake of being called green,” said Mike Michalski, a site selection consultant and owner of Cleveland, Ohio-based MCS Strategies. “However, Knoxville approaches its green initiatives as part of the overall business strategy. It’s a comprehensive effort to welcome new businesses, create a broad variety of activities, and improve the quality of life.”

GROWING THE GARDEN-TO-TABLE MOVEMENT The Early Learning Center for Research and Practice at the University of Tennessee is teaching children the importance of sustainability and good nutrition in a fun, hands-on way. The center has converted an unused area of its ground into a garden for the children to grow their own food and learn. “We think (the garden) gets another generation excited about learning the garden-to-table concept, and it gives them an active hand in how their food is produced,” said Kathy Kidd, a program director at the learning center and a lecturer in the UT Department of Child and Family Studies. The garden boasts beans, artichokes, eggplants, and a variety of tomatoes, herbs and lettuces. They even planted a dedicated “pizza garden” with all of the

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See “Green Initiatives” on pg. 46

ers that set up at the Market Square Farmers’ Market every Wednesday and Saturday. “(The farmers’ market produce) are seasonal items that we typically incorporate into our daily special menu offerings,” Partin said. “We also use local fruit ingredients for a pie – tomatoes, basil, onions, green peppers, oregano, and to make jam for our weekend brunch.” mushrooms. Once grown, all of these vegetables will be used for the children’s The Tomato Head also buys local honey from Moore’s Acres Farm, bacon lunches at the center. from Benton’s Country Ham in Madisonville, Tenn., cheese from Sweetwater Kidd said the children, who range from infant to kindergarten age, are learnValley Cheese, and milk from Cruze Farm Dairy. ing to make better nutritional choices because of the garden. Partin said local food can be more diverse, more healthy, more environmentally friendly, and more tasty, if it is grown with care. “I think everyone here benefits from a diverse array of food offerings, from the protection of land that organic farmers provide and from the jobs created by the farmers,” Partin said. “Not to mention that Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons are a particularly vibrant time of the week to enjoy downtown because of the energy created by the farmers’ market on those days.” In addition to the Market Square Farmers’ Market, the Knoxville area has more than a dozen farmers’ markets that can help residents and visitors Popular eatery The Tomato Head buys locally-grown produce from the Market Square Farmers’ Market, held right outside its Market Square location eat farm-fresh. Some on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. of those locations include Turkey Creek, UT Gardens, and Sequoyah Hills. “If they grow it, they’re more willing to try it and see it’s not so bad or scary

“Green Initiatives” continued from pg. 45

at all,” Kidd explained. In addition to healthier food choices, the garden is teaching them a love of the outdoors. “If they have a positive relationship with an outdoor experience at this young age, they are much more likely to continue to be invested in those outdoor experiences,” Kidd said, “whether that be gardening or hiking and exploring nature.” While the children are learning garden-to-table principles, many local restaurants are putting the method into practice. “We have used local produce for years, but that use has definitely increased with the growth of interest in local agriculture and the Farmers’ Market in the past decade,” said Scott Partin, owner of The Tomato Head. The Tomato Head purchases a variety of fruits and vegetables from the farm-

ESTABLISHING AN URBAN WILDERNESS Uniquely situated at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Knoxville is surrounded by tremendous natural assets. Thanks to the Legacy Parks Foundation’s Urban Wilderness project, residents and visitors don’t have to go far to enjoy them. The project connects existing parks, greenways, historic sites, and neighborhoods with more than 40 miles of recreational trails along downtown Knoxville’s

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See “Green Initiatives” on pg. 47

“The Knoxville Convention Center’s LEED certification demonstrates to the community our staff’s commitment to sustainable practices and green building practices,” said Mary Bogert, general manager of the Knoxville Convention Center. “LEED certification puts the Knoxville Convention Center ahead of the competition in attracting meeting planners and major conventions to the area. Other convention centers around the nation are looking to us as an example as they plan to go green.” In order to qualify for LEED certification, the Convention Center had to be retrofitted for energy efficiency and implement green policies. Bogert said LEED candidates must verify the implementation of sustainable practices that reduce the environmental impacts of their building, including regular exterior building site maintenance programs; efficient water and energy use; environmentally preferred practices for building cleaning and updates; sustainable purchasing policies; waste stream management; and ongoing indoor environmental quality. “We’ve been very aggressive in ways to improve our energy efficiency and sustainability,” Bogert said. “Initially, we did this from a budgetary standpoint, but we also came to the conclusion that it is the right thing to do for our community. We want to reduce our carbon footprint on the community.” One of the first green changes the Convention Center implemented was installing more than 450 solar panels on its roof. The panels make up two solar photovoltaic systems that in total produce 120 kilowatts of energy. The Convention Center has also installed new energyefficient boilers, a 30-ton air cooled chiller, film on windows to reduce The Quarry at Fort Dickerson Park is one of many treasures that can be found as part of the Urban solar heating, a new domestic hot water system and lighting systems Wilderness project headed up by The Legacy Parks Foundation.

“Green Initiatives” continued from pg. 46

waterfront. Within the 1,000 forested acres of wilderness, visitors will find 10 parks, four Civil War sites, beautiful vistas, and unparalleled natural features. “It provides easily accessible outdoor amenities for a variety of types of recreation and a diversity of users,” said Carol Evans, executive director of Legacy Parks Foundation. “There is no need to drive hours to experience the wilderness.” The project is composed of two sections: the South Loop and the Battlefield Loop. The South Loop is a 12.5-mile route with four trailheads – Mead’s Quarry, William Hastie Natural Area, Anderson School, and Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area. The trails range from easy to moderate in difficulty. The Battlefield Loop highlights Knoxville’s historic Civil War sites. Folks exploring the route will find Fort Stanley, Fort Dickerson, and Fort Higley, as well as the site of the Battle of Armstrong’s Hill, a key Civil War battle in the defense of Knoxville. There are also lush recreational areas along the loop, such as the River Bluff and Longhaven areas. Visit to learn more about the project and plan your trek.

SETTING A SUSTAINABILITY STANDARD For more than four years, the Knoxville Convention Center has been undergoing extensive improvements to become energy efficient and sustainable. Those improvements have paid off, as the Convention Center received LEED Silver certification for existing buildings from the United States Green Building Council in June. The Convention Center is the first convention space in Tennessee to receive LEED certification.

The Knoxville Convention Center’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint includes a 450-panel solar project.

to make the building more sustainable. Bogert said these improvements have saved the Convention Center approximately $165,000 each year. “Going green was not only the right thing to do, it has also allowed the Knoxville Convention Center to become even more competitive on a national level,” Bogert said. “For many meeting planners and conventions, locating their next event at a green facility is a top priority.”

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Chamber Unveils First Legislative Scorecard The Knoxville Chamber recently released its first Legislative Scorecard. The publication reports how the Chamber’s regional and state agendas fared during a period spanning the Chamber’s fiscal year, July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013. The main focus of the scorecard is the Urban Chambers Joint State Legislative Agenda. The agenda, drafted by the Knoxville Chamber, Chattanooga Area Chamber, Greater Memphis Chamber, and Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, outlined important issues affecting member businesses across the state. The chambers saw success on the majority of those items. The following are the issues, the chambers’ position, and outcome of each agenda item.

Bill Summary: Changes the release date of the state report card by the commissioner of education from Nov. 1 to Oct. 1. Requires the department to provide raw test score data and teacher effect data to LEAs no later than May 1 beginning in the 2014-15 school year.

VOTING KEY: 4 Legislature took action supporting Joint State Legislative Agenda position 6 Legislature took action opposing our Agenda position ! No notable action

Status: Taken off notice in Senate Education committee. It is to be noted that the legislature did not pass any bill, which would weaken the existing evaluation system.



Chamber Position:

Chamber Position:

Consider, as part of the analysis of proposed legislation, the financial impact of each bill (conducted by fiscal review staff, not Chamber staff) on businesses and jobs within Tennessee. Support: (SB 116/HB 220)

Preserve the current system for selecting school superintendents, in which these leaders are appointed by an elected school board to ensure a clear and accountable governance structure. Oppose: (SB44, SB452, SB916/HB741,SB1071 HB571)

Bill Summary:

Bill Summary:

Requires committee to include impact to commerce statement in fiscal note for bills and resolutions referred to House business and utilities committee; House finance, ways and means committee; House state government committee; House local government committee; House insurance and banking committee; House consumer and human resources committee; Senate commerce; Senate labor and agriculture committee; Senate finance, ways and means committee; and Senate state and local government committee.

Multiple bills proposed, example: Allows a county or municipality operating a school system to re-establish the office of elected school superintendent upon two-thirds vote of governing body. Clarifies that such ordinance or resolution once approved is not operative until approved by the voters in an election. Requires the state board of education to establish minimum requirements for license of qualifications for a superintendent. Specifies some of the qualifications to be included by the state board.


Status: Signed by the governor and enacted a Public Charter effective May 16, 2013.


All proposed bills to elect superintendents failed or were taken off notice, supporting our position of Appointed Superintendents.


Chamber Position: Stay the course on the teacher evaluation system to improve instruction in the classroom, with the Tennessee Department of Education ensuring the availability of all necessary data in a timely manner. Support: (SB 532/HB 565)

Make publicly available on the Tennessee Department of Education’s website the full ACT report of each school district and high school, and incorporate improvement on ACT into the state’s accountability system. Support: (SB 531/HB 647)

See “Scorecard” on pg. 49

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“Scorecard” continued from pg. 48


Bill Summary: Requires the commissioner of education to include the full ACT report of each LEA in the annual report and include the ACT report on the department’s web site.


Signed by the governor and enacted as Public Charter effective July 1, 2013, going against the chambers’ position. However, this was an improvement over last year’s bill as property owners were granted some liability protection from injuries caused by a firearm. It is important to note that Tennessee is an at-will state and employers have the right to make employment decisions based on company policy.

Signed by the governor on April 29, 2013 and enacted as Public Charter effective July 1, 2013.



Chamber Position:

Chamber Position: Support the establishment of a consistent state policy regarding local minimum wages for private businesses, leaving the federal government to set the minimum wage level. Support: (SB 35/HB 501)

Bill Summary: Prohibits local governments from requiring a private employer to pay its employees an hourly wage in excess of the minimum hourly wage required to be paid under federal or state law as a condition of doing business within the jurisdictional boundaries of the local government. Also prohibits local governments from mandating health insurance benefits, leave policies, or prevailing wage standards that deviate from state statutorily imposed standards on private employers as either a condition of operating a business within the jurisdictional boundaries of the local government or when the local government contracts with a private employer.

Support the proposed modification for appointment and retention of the state’s appellate judges, along with a temporary extension of the current system, to ensure a predictable business environment and keep these officeholders out of the political campaign cycle. Support: (SJR 2)

Bill Summary: Proposes an amendment to provide for gubernatorial appointment of appellate judges, subject to legislative confirmation, followed by retention elections.

Status: The bill passed both the Senate and House and is awaiting the speakers’ signatures, supporting the chambers’ position. The issue will now be on the ballot for voters in 2014. This proposed constitutional amendment creates a process where judges are appointed by the governor, confirmed by the legislature and retained by a vote of the people.



Signed by the governor and enacted as Public Charter effective April 11, 2013, which nullifies and prohibits local ordinances from establishing a minimum wage different from the state or federal government, providing consistency.

Chamber Position:

6. PRESERVE BUSINESS AND PROPERTY OWNERS’ RIGHTS REGARDING GUNS ON PROPERTY: 6 Chamber Position: Preserve the rights of business and property owners to prohibit firearms on their property. Oppose: (SB 142/HB 118)

Bill Summary: Allows the holder of a valid handgun carry permit recognized in Tennessee to transport and store a firearm or firearm ammunition in the permit holder’s privatelyowned vehicle while utilizing any public or private parking area, so long as the permit holder’s vehicle is parked in a location where it is permitted to be and the firearm or ammunition being transported or stored in the vehicle is kept from ordinary observation while the owner is in the vehicle or kept from ordinary observation and locked within the trunk, glove box, or interior of the person’s privately owned vehicle if the permit holder is not in the vehicle. Prohibits any business entity, public or private employer, or the owner, manager, or legal possessor of the property from being held liable in any civil action for damages, injuries, or death resulting from or arising out of another’s actions involving a firearm or ammunition.

Tennessee’s workers’ compensation system needs to be reformed to better meet the needs of both employees and employers. Support moving from a courtbased to an administrative system to resolve workers’ compensation disputes. Support (SB 200/HB 194 & SB 181/HB 175)

Bill Summary: Makes various technical changes to present law concerning workers’ compensation, including creating an administrative process for dispute resolutions.

Status: Signed by the governor and enacted as Public Charter effective April 29, 2013, supporting the chambers’ position. This bill should reduce administrative costs and make the workers’ compensation process more efficient for both the employee and employer.

To view the complete 2013 Legislative Scorecard, visit the Public Policy section of

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(May 2013)

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



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

% Change Apr. ’12Apr. ‘13

Apr. 2013

Mar. 2013

Apr. 2012

% Change Mar. ’13Apr. ‘13

233,890 368,350 3,110,700 154,739,000

232,270 366,110 3,102,700 154,512,000

235,460 371,530 3,073,700 153,905,000

0.7 0.6 0.3 0.1

-0.7 -0.9 1.2 0.5

338,600 2,759,700

335,300 2,737,400

330,300 2,715,600

1.0 0.8

2.5 1.6

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

Residential Closings Residential Inventory Median Residential Price

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

Apr. 2013 1,118 14,728 $143,000

May 2012 1,134 14,727 $143,150

% Change Apr. ’13May ‘13 18.3 2.5 2.6

% Change May ’12May ‘13 16.7 2.5 2.5

Source: Knoxville Area Association of Realtors

Non-Ag Employment Knoxville MSA Tennessee


Knoxville (City)

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

Apr. 2013* 13 13 0

Apr. 2012 8 8 0

% Change Apr. ’12Apr. ‘13 62.5 62.5 0.0

Knox Co.

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

113 104 9

113 89 24

0.0 16.9 -62.5

Knoxville MSA

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

151 142 9

141 117 24

7.1 21.4 -62.5


Total Single-Family Multi-Family

2,023 1,431 592

1,708 1,075 633

18.4 33.1 -6.5

Available Labor Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee

16,590 27,200 274,820

15,890 26,440 277,370

15,200 25,270 259,340

4.4 2.9 -0.9

9.1 7.6 5.9

6.4 6.7 8.0 7.1

6.2 6.6 8.1 7.6

5.8 6.1 7.6 7.7

0.2 0.1 -0.1 -0.5

0.6 0.6 0.4 -0.6

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

May ’12-‘13

Apr. ’12-‘13

May ’11-‘12

1.3 1.4

0.9 1.1

1.7 1.7


% Change Apr. ’12May ‘13

% Change May ’11May ‘13

0.4 0.3

-0.4 -0.3

*South – City Size Class B/C

*All 2013 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

Apr. 2013

Mar. 2013

Apr. 2012

47,711,895 66,186,549 613,603,724

43,245,237 59,785,985 538,531,912

49,251,883 68,997,164 617,909,545

10.3 10.7 13.9

-3.1 -4.1 -0.7

13,290,858 18,594,158

11,811,463 16,428,662

13,486,866 18,918,674

12.5 13.2

-1.5 -1.7

Local Sales Tax Knox Co. Knoxville MSA

% Change Apr. ’12Apr. ‘13

% Change Mar. ’13Apr. ‘13


Passengers Cargo

Mar. 2013 136,226 7,344,666

Feb. 2013 111,815 6,738,025

Mar. 2012 156,888 8,281,003

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

May 2013 444,122 33,662 21,147 7,758 56,295 48,454 8,212 48,073 55,488 23,846 11,496 86,613 36,172

Apr. 2013 414,705 30,085 19,368 7,237 51,087 46,770 7,689 45,871 50,723 23,107 10,062 80,854 35,374

423,323 30,812 20,181 7,772 54,213 46,117 8,204 48,722 54,247 23,725 10,581 79,512 32,456

% Change Apr. ’13May ‘13 7.1 11.9 9.2 7.2 10.2 3.6 6.8 4.8 9.4 3.2 14.3 7.1 2.3





May 2012

% Change May ’12May ‘13 4.9 9.2 4.8 -0.2 3.8 5.1 0.1 -1.3 2.3 0.5 8.6 8.9 11.4 1.8

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

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EST. 1869

% Change Feb. ’13Mar. ‘13 21.8 9.0

% Change Mar. ’12Mar. ‘13 -13.2 -11.3

Common Core Standards Key To Helping Prepare Students For Workforce This fall, the Knox County Schools is taking an active step to get its students better prepared for college and workforce by implementing Common Core State Standards in all K-12 classrooms. Common Core 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. The standards were implemented in Knox County schools last year, but only at the elementary and middle school as a pilot program. This school year they will be implemented across all grade levels during the 2013-14 school year. “Only 21 percent of Knox County high school students met all four ACT college readiness benchmarks in 2012,” said Jennifer Evans, vice president for public policy at the Knoxville Chamber. “We need to do more to prepare our students and implementing Common Core is a step in the right direction.” While Common Core standards are more rigorous and require educators to teach differently, Evans said students will have more depth in their education.

“The former standards were very wide and shallow,” Evans said. “They didn’t go very deeply because they were testing so many topics. Now the subject areas have been condensed and we’re able to dig down deeper and make sure students thoroughly understand fundamental concepts.” Common Core standardizes core content, although curriculum and teaching decisions will still be left to local and state leaders. It also enables collaboration between states on textbooks, digital media, and other teaching materials. “These standards have been adopted voluntarily by 45 other states, which levels the playing field across the country, so we can start comparing ourselves apples to apples,” Evans said. Through the Expect More, Achieve More Coalition, the standards have received support from more than 200 Tennessee organizations, including the Knoxville Chamber. A recent survey conducted by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education found that three out of four voters in Tennessee support Common Core standards. Using a sample size of 500 voters, 76 percent of respondents supported Common Core after hearing a brief description. “Looking ahead, we hope our legislators will stand strong and support the full implementation of Tennessee’s new education standards,” Evans said. “It is what’s right for our kids and the business community is fully supportive of these standards in order to ensure a skilled and competitive workforce.”

Local Manufacturers Expand Innovation Valley Operations Steel manufacturer Gerdau announced it will expand its manufacturing operations in Knoxville on May 20. The expansion is a multi-million dollar investment and will create approximately 40 new jobs. “We are so pleased that Gerdau has decided to expand their operations in Knox County,” said Rhonda Rice, executive vice president of the Knoxville Chamber. “Gerdau has been such an important long-term industrial citizen of our community, and their continued investment and job creation speaks volumes that the Innovation Valley is a leading region for businesses locations and expansions.” The company will add an additional facility in WestBridge Business Park that will take the steel rebar manufactured at its Londsdale mill and apply finishing services for original equipment manufacturers.

“I’m honored that Gerdau has chosen to expand their operations in Knox County’s WestBridge Business Park,” Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said in a press release. “It’s good to see a vacant building put back to industrial use by one of our strong existing industries.” Gerdau’s announcement comes on the heels of Alcoa’s May 2 announcement of its decision to expand its rolling mill in Blount County. The aluminum manufacturer’s $275 million investment will add 200 permanent jobs, as well as 400 jobs during the construction phase. “The decision of Alcoa to make this significant investment in the Innovation Valley is a testament to their belief in this region, its workforce, and its ability to produce the quality product they desire,” Rice said. The project will convert some of the plant’s can-sheet capacity to high-strength automotive aluminum capacity, as well as install incremental automotive capacity. The expansion began in May and will be completed mid-2015. When completed, the plant will be a key supplier to both the packaging and automotive markets. Much of the volume for the automotive expansion is already secured under longterm supply agreements.

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Chamber Providing Opportunity For Local Manufacturers To Learn From One Another The Knoxville Chamber began hosting manufacturing roundtable discussions more than six months ago for industry representatives to come together and gain insight from each other on topics specific to their industry. The meetings came about when manufacturing representatives in the area reached out to the Chamber expressing interest in creating a forum for professionals who work in similar disciplines to discuss issues that affect the industry. “Our group’s goal is to benchmark and, through the sharing of best practices, raise the level of performance for our businesses,” said Kimberly Williamson, corporate process manager for Techmer PM. “Teamwork and problem-solving are our focus – collaborative efforts like these will help keep us be profitable and keep industry and jobs in our local communities.” Mark Field, senior vice president of membership, said he is delighted the Chamber could help provide space and resources for the peer group discussions. He said the meetings have also helped the Chamber better understand what skills manufacturing companies are looking for in their workforce. “There is value in bringing people with similar practices together to educate

their peers in ways that are more effective, relevant, and productive,” Field said. “Everyone is at a different point in their journey to quality production, which allows members to help each other overcome obstacles or share personal experiences.” East Tennessee currently has a rapidly growing workforce of more than 400,000 people, 45,000 being technical workers. Businesses are under pressure to keep up with the fast-growing economy and population to meet the demand. Companies are focusing on supply chain, lean management, and productive maintenance now more than ever, thus increasing the importance of peer group discussion. “I find the roundtable valuable because it allows us, as manufacturers to collaborate and share ideas in an open, non-competitive atmosphere,” said Scott Snyder, materials manager at Astec Underground. “Since we all operate in different environments, we bring to the table different manufacturing philosophies and perspectives. The sharing of these perspectives is the true benefit of the roundtable.” The roundtable meets the last Tuesday of each month from 8- 9 a.m. at the Knoxville Chamber. For more information, contact Lauren Longmire at 865-246-2610 or Chamber intern Mackenzie Evans contributed this article.

Chamber Shows Appreciation For Ambassadors At Luncheon The Knoxville Chamber recognized its team of Ambassadors at an appreciation luncheon at the Square Room on June 11. Approximately 50 volunteers make up the Chamber’s Ambassador program. Throughout the year, these individuals give countless hours volunteering at Chamber events and mentoring new members. “The Chamber has more than 80 events per year and we could not come close to pulling those off without the commitment and dedication of our Ambassadors who volunteer their time to help us,” said Leslie Smith, member services manager for the Knoxville Chamber. During the luncheon, each Ambassador was recognized with a certificate for his or her service. Bank of America’s Cameron Puckett was named “Ambassador of the Year” for his steadfast dedication to the Chamber and its programming. Puckett has served as co-chair for the past year and has been an ambassador since 2008. “Over the years our Ambassador program has become known as one of the outstanding ambassador programs in the nation,” said Mark Field, senior vice

Ambassador co-chairs Brooke Thurman, Kim Davis, and Cameron Puckett pose with Mike Edwards, Knoxville Chamber CEO and president, at the Ambassador appreciation luncheon on June 11.

president of membership for the Knoxville Chamber. “I’m often asked what kind of programing causes this program to be so special. My answer is that it isn’t the programing that is special, it’s the people.”

July’s Bright Ideas Seminar To Focus On Attracting, Retaining Top Employees The Knoxville Chamber’s July Bright Ideas seminar, sponsored by AT&T, will highlight how to attract and retain top-notch employees. Christine Bell and Jill Green of BGT Recruiting will share ways in which employers can recruit and keep top talent through measures that do not require a significant financial investment or changes to employee compensation. They will also share insight into their own experience, specifically on employee retention strategies and the importance of company culture.

The seminar is scheduled for July 17 from 11:30 a.m – 1 p.m. at the Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square. Registration, which includes a boxed lunch, is $25 for members and $35 for non-members. For more information or to register for “How to Attract, Retain, and Reward ‘A’ Team Employees,” visit

Sponsored by:

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Winner Of What’s The Big Idea?! Competition Crowned At Finale After nearly two months of competition, the finalists for the What’s the Big Idea?! business plan competition, sponsored by Rodefer Moss & Company and supported by Knowledge Launch and STC Staffing, took the stage at the Relix Variety Theatre on June 20 for the final round. One by one, under the bright lights of the stage, the three finalists took their last shot to pitch their Big Ideas to the judges. The ideas included a cutting-edge online survey software, an innovative pipe-fitting tool, and video-gaming software designed to assist college freshman with grasping science curriculum. They had 10 minutes to pitch each of their ideas to the panel of five judges and five minutes to answer questions from the panel. Ultimately, it was Steve W. Pierson, and his Big Idea, PipeFighters Square, who took the grand prize. Pierson was coached by Jimmy Rodefer, CEO of Rodefer Moss & Company, PLLC. “I’m shocked,” Pierson said. “I knew I had the greatest product, but I’m not the best public speaker. I just hoped my product would pull me through, because it’s something that’s been needed for a long time.” Pierson said the PipeFighters Square tool is the first of its kind. The tool allows pipe fitters to cut the pipe on any angle degree, which is an important part of pipe fabrication. You can also measure the degree the fittings are on existing pipe installations, including horizontal, vertical, and rolling offsets. The product is not only limited to pipe fitting, it can be used on carpentry, masonry, and automotive jobs. “I’m really happy we were able to take his idea and communicate it,” Rodefer said. “(As the engineer of PipeFighters Square) he needed the business consulting to perfect and solidify his company. I thought we could help out by putting this idea with some administration, financing and marketing ideas. It seems like it took and he’s going to go a long way.” Pierson will receive a Big Idea Launch Package that includes up to $10,000 in start-up reimbursement costs, one year of free rent at the Fairview Technology Center, and complimentary business services. “I’m just sorry I didn’t invent it sooner,” Pierson said with a chuckle.

What’s the Big Idea?! winner Steven Pierson with his coach, Jimmy Rodefer.

The crowd takes a quick break while the judges deliberate the winner of the What’s the Big Idea?! Competition on June 20.

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Hilton Downtown Plays Host To June Business After Hours



Power 30 Speed Networking 4-7 p.m. • Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square Members Only!

JULY 11 Business After Hours 5 – 7 p.m. • Gettysvue Country Club Sponsored by:

JULY 17 Bright Ideas Seminar – How to Attract, Retain & Reward A-Team Employees Diana Morgan and Ann LeZotte of Pilot Flying J join Linda Ashton and Lynne Foster of Humana for a glass of wine at the June 6 Business After Hours at the Knoxville Hilton.

Presented by Christine Bell & Jill Green, BGT Recruiting & Consulting Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square $25 for members and $35 for non-members (includes lunch) Sponsored by:

Nearly 150 guests gathered at the Knoxville Hilton for Business After Hours on June 6. The event highlighted the hotel’s recent renovations and featured a tasting of some of the property’s catering offerings. Hilton General Manager Paul Jordan welcomed attendees and spoke briefly about the recent renovations to the hotel. Also during the event, Jason Altman of Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon announced the winners of Covenant Health’s 2013 Fittest Company Challenge, which is presented by Humana. The Challenge offers a friendly competition for area businesses during all the marathon events. Companies receive one point per mile finished for each employee that finishes one of the various-lengthed races.

THE 2013 TOP FINISHERS INCLUDED: Large (501+ employees) 1. Pilot Flying J - 1604.25 Points 2. Tennessee Valley Authority - 898 Points 3. University of Tennessee - Faculty and Staff - 556.05 Points Medium (101-500 employees) 1. Radio Systems Corporation - 891.5 Points 2. ORNL FCU - 422.8 Points 3. Bush Bros. & Co. - 268.85 Points Small (1-100 employees) 1. AllMeds - 175.45 Points 2. Management Solutions, LLC - 120.3 Points 3. IG Brown TEC - 107.9 Points The evening concluded with Joyce Shoudy, executive director at Family Promise of Knoxville, winning the door prize – a weekend getaway at the hotel.

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Commerce July 2013  
Commerce July 2013  

The official newsletter of the Knoxville Chamber.