Page 1

2013 Pinnacle Award Winners Announced pg. 57

INSIDE: Schmoozapalooza Recap pg. 60 + Monthly Economic Indicators pg. 62


CONNECT with the


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.




Goodwill Industries - Knoxville, Inc. celebrated the grand opening of its new vocational training center and 28th retail store location on Pleasant Ridge Road in March. Dr. Robert Rosenbaum, Goodwill President & CEO, is pictured center cutting the ribbon and is joined by County Mayor Tim Burchett, City Council representatives, County Commission representatives, Goodwill board members, and Knoxville Chamber representatives. The grand opening was sponsored by Denark Construction, Inc.

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


NEW MEMBERS / NEW PREMIER PARTNERS SILVER PREMIER PARTNER Mason Livesay Scientific (865) 771-8132 Business & Professional Services: Technical Services

84 Lumber Store #1203 (865) 584-4669 Building Materials Academy Mortgage Corporation (865) 281-3221 Real Estate: Mortgage Banking American Laser Skincare (865) 777-4774 Personal Services: Aestheticians & Medispas Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee (865) 243-3879 Social Services

Bo Harris Golf Academy (865) 803-3121 Sports & Recreation:Golf Borderland Tees (865) 363-4302 Business & Professional Services: Promotional Products Consign to Design (865) 249-7428 Shopping: Furniture CPS Payment Services (865) 684-5600 Business & Professional Services: Business Advisors & Consultants Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc. (865) 249-6035 Environmental Services & Equipment:Consultants Dead End BBQ (865) 212-5655 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places

Dock & Deck (865) 765-3625 Construction & Contractors:Specialty Services

Joint Solution Associates, LLC (256) 684-4706 Business & Professional Services: Business Advisors & Consultants

North Knox Siding & Windows (865) 689-0505 www.northknoxsidingandwindows. com Construction & Contractors

Scrumps Cupcakes (865) 688-8440 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places: Sweet Treats & Bakeries

Firstview Online (865) 357-3600 Business & Professional Services:Marketing & Sales

Marble Slab Creamery / Great American Cookie Company (865) 288-4227 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places: Ice Cream & Frozen Treats

Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt at Market Square Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places: Ice Cream & Frozen Treats

Special Notes Entertainment Agency (865) 970-3429 Audio-Visual Services: Event Lighting

GE Healthcare (865) 521-8719 Healthcare Providers & Services Hartye Technology, LLC (865) 226-9632 Computer & IT Services: Consultants Insta Dri (865) 201-1456 Construction & Contractors: Specialty Services

Men of Measure (865) 697-8189 Shopping: Men’s Clothing Moser Visuals (865) 229-6673 Photography Mountain Mutt Media (865) 712-7892 Photography

PostNet (865) 560-8828 Office Equipment, Supplies & Services: Digital Copy/Print/Fax/Scan Equip. & Ser Renewal by Andersen (865) 588-2508 Construction & Contractors: Exteriors Saving Little Hearts (865) 748-4605 Healthcare Providers & Services: Agencies

















Spirited Art (865) 584-1010 Entertainment: Arts & Culture Stoneworld TN (865) 249-7687 Construction & Contractors

Chamber Toasts Excellence at Ninth Annual Pinnacle Business Awards Gala

Pinnacle (n) – the highest point of development or achievement; a lofty peak Embodying Merriam Webster’s definition of pinnacle, the businesses honored at this year’s ninth annual Pinnacle Business Awards presented by BB&T have reached the peak of their industry. “A Pinnacle Business Award is one of the most prestigious honors a local business, entrepreneur, or organization can receive,” said Mike Edwards, Chamber president and CEO. “We are proud to recognize businesses and businesspeople that are positively impacting our region by contributing to the economic prosperity of the community and making it a better place to live.” Over 200 nominations spanning eight award categories were submitted for the 2013 awards. The Chamber’s board of directors was charged with evaluating applications to determine this year’s finalists and eventual winners, which were announced at the Pinnacle Business Awards Gala on May 3. The Chamber and its board of directors are proud to introduce the 2013 Pinnacle Award winners:

company also developed an educational program aimed at teaching children about proper pet care, behavior with dogs, and costs associated with pet ownership. In 2012, the program reached over 1,800 students. While animal welfare causes are central to their core mission, the company’s engagement in education initiatives has also been significant. As the founder of tnAchieves, a scholarship and mentoring program for Tennessee high school graduates and specifically first generation college students, Radio System’s efforts have resulted in the opportunity for students from 23 of the state’s 95 counties to attend college at no cost. Through its philanthropic efforts, Radio Systems Corporation has supported more than 30 youth education and pet-related causes in the community. In total, the company and its associates have regularly contributed more than $500,000 and countless volunteer hours each year to help make Knoxville a better place to live. The other finalists for the 2013 Impact Award were Moe’s Southwest Grill and Prestige Cleaners.



Aqua-Chem Recognizing those businesses committed to making East Tennessee a better place to live, this award honors those who develop or support projects and programs that enrich the local community.


Pershing Yoakley & Associates Commending visionary practices within the business community, this award is given to a company that has developed a new technology, innovative product or service, or applied a business system or service in an innovative way.


2013 WINNER – Radio Systems Corporation 2013 WINNER – Wampler’s Farm Sausage Company, Inc. “Our legacy can be that of an organization that gives back to future associates, to pet welfare, and to the community for decades to come,” said Randy Boyd, founder and CEO of Radio Systems Corporation. “We can pass on a foundation that lasts.” The parent company of PetSafe, the leading manufacturer of electronic pet training products in the United States, Radio Systems Corporation has committed itself to improving pet welfare in the local community by funding the construction of six dog parks in and around Knox County, donating $100,000 each year since 2009 for the construction of the parks. In this same vein, the

Founded in 1938 with just $38 worth of building materials, today Wampler’s Farm Sausage Company, Inc. utilizes the latest in meat packing machinery, including several internally developed processes and equipment. These innovations allow the company’s food manufacturing plant to go from a sow harvest to finished sausages in just 75 minutes, and a patty stacking and packing machine they co-invented stacks 840 sausage patties per minute allowing

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 57

See “Pinnacle” on pg. 58

“Pinnacle” continued from pg. 57 product to move out the door equally as fast. While LEAN manufacturing practices have always been part of the company philosophy, recent investments into sustainability and green energy truly solidify their status as leaders in innovation. Since 2009 the company has installed two solar panel systems making them the largest factory-owned and operated Solar PV System in the state, launched a corporate social responsibility program focused on “greening” the company, implemented a recycling project that reduced landfill contribution by 80 percent, and installed a fully automated waste treatment facility which cut their wastewater biochemical oxygen demand to 10 percent of permitted allowances. With the first commercial installation of Proton Power Cellulose-to-Hydrogen Power System, which converts biomass into a syngas that will power natural gas generators, the company is on pace to make all plant production processes fossil fuel free and ultimately operate with a negative carbon footprint. The other finalists for the 2013 Innovator Award were Cadre5 and LED North America.


ponents, ExpoQuip Inc.’s owner, Jorge Sanabria, once attempted to overcome the cultural barrier by changing his first name to “George” on his business cards. “Being from Columbia, I still have an accent and my name is difficult for some to pronounce,” he said in his application. “Upon greeting potential customers, I would have to repeat my name several times and spell it for them. This obstacle has created awkward moments in trying to captivate a potential customer on a first impression. I finally changed by name on my business cards so that it would no longer interrupt initial presentations.” Despite facing these challenges coupled with the normal obstacles confronting small business, Sanabria has propelled ExpoQuip in a multimillion dollar company with plans to become a key supplier in major government projects and expand their current warehouse facilities. Servicing machines weighing between 2 and 720 tons, the company allows customers to immediately get quotes or place orders through their interactive website and works to establish fast, efficient distribution channels. Focused on getting their customers up and running, ExpoQuip has proven themselves to be a small company that could offer the same quality products and competitive pricing in an industry dominated by large, well-established companies. CG Services and LeGacy Resource Corporation were the other finalists for the 2013 Minority-Owned Business Excellence Award.



Presented to a company with 50 of fewer employees, this award honors a small business that has overcome obstacles to consistently grow its workforce and revenue.

LBMC Recognizing outstanding East Tennessee womanowned business, recipients of this award have successfully overcome the challenge of being independently owned, operated, and controlled by a female in a non-diverse field.


2013 WINNER – Design Innovation Architects (DIA) Founded in 1989 by Faris Eid, Design Innovation Architects has grown from a one-person practice into one of Knoxville’s leading architectural and interior design firms. With client satisfaction as one of the company’s core values, nearly 90 percent of revenues come from repeat clients and in 2005 their need to expand led to the development of their current state-of-the-art office space in downtown Knoxville. DIA has emerged from the challenges presented by recent economic instability with an increase in overall profitability and revenue per employee. Continuing to build their business through innovation and excellent service, the firm has established an award-winning reputation for its adaptive reuse of existing and historic building and boasts a varied portfolio that includes the University of Tennessee Student Health Center, the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and Atlanta’s Hilton Hotel. Finalists for the 2013 award also included Management Solutions, LLC and Southern Shores Development, LLC.

MINORITY-OWNED BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD Covenant Health This award honors a minority-owned company that has overcome the obstacle of race in a non-diverse field to produce outstanding business results and growth. SPONSORED BY

2013 Winner – ExpoQuip Inc.

2013 WINNER – Management Solutions, LLC. Misty Mayes founded Management Solutions, LLC in November 2002 as a home-based business, intent on providing superior project management services that allowed clients to deliver on schedule every time. Beginning with a single part-time contract, the company now boasts more than 50 clients including the United States Army Corps of Engineers, UT-Battelle, and the Y-12 National Security Complex. The company now has 38 employees and has grown steadily with an average growth per year of 146 percent. It was recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as the 2011 national sub-contractor of the year. In 2010 the company launched a new spin-off business, Construction Project Solutions, in response to recommendations from their federal clients that they start helping contractors meet federal project management requirements. Weathering the recent federal budget cuts and emerging as a leader in an industry dominated by large firms, Management Solutions strategy of listening to clients, identifying problems and providing solutions has created an awardwinning, nationally recognized small business. 2013 finalists for this award also included Cannon & Cannon, Inc. and the Shelton Group.

A worldwide distributor of quality heavy machinery replacement parts and com-

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 58

BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARDS Presented to companies with a significant presence in East Tennessee, this award salutes businesses that have demonstrated remarkable profitability, growth, and stability. The award is divided into two categories: Large Business Excellence which recognizes companies with more than 200 employees and Mid-Sized Business Excellence which recognizes companies with 51 – 200 employees.


Cherokee Distributing

2013 WINNER – Caris Healthcare Caris, which is the greek word for “grace,” is an $81 million hospice provider, and is on pace to increase revenues to $100 million by 2016. Caris delivers care to people with life-limiting illness and their families through a professional team of healthcare workers which include a nurse on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days per year. Since its founding in Knoxville 10 years ago by Norman McCrae, the company has grown from one office to 24 branches, serving 93 counties in Tennessee and has become the number-one hospice, by market share, in the state. Caris has also focused on underserved rural markets to help establish it as the market leader. To date, Caris has served 24,314 patients and their families throughout the state. The other finalists for this award included 21st Mortgage and U.S. Cellular.


2013 WINNER – Aqua-Chem Beginning with the idea that industrial equipment and water treatment should be more efficient and reliable, Aqua-Chem, Inc.’s products and services have been supplying safe drinking water for the U.S military, pharmaceutical industry, offshore oil and gas industry, commercial marines, bottled water industry, and micro-utilities market since 1940. Experiencing a 34 percent revenue increase over the past five years, the company credits its success to the development of water solutions customized to the customer’s unique industry and situation. In 2012 Aqua-Chem expanded its global reach to Brazil, securing the contract for the country’s ship building industry. Offering a full range or thermal and membrane water treatment technologies including vapor compression distillation, flash evaporation, reverse osmosis, membrane filtration, and ion exchange, Aqua-Chem has established itself as the premier water treatment and micro-utility company in the world. Claris Networks and Harper Auto Square were the also finalists for this award.

YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR AWARD UT-Battelle Honoring a professional 40-years-old or younger, this award celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit by recognizing the region’s future business and community leaders. SPONSORED BY

2013 WINNER – Matthew Tunstall, Stall Talk, Inc. Described as passionate, creative, and confident, in only two short years Matt Tunstall has grown his company to become the world’s largest outdoor advertising company specializing in advertising on portable restrooms. Tunstall, Founder and CEO of Stall Talk, Inc., has established multi-year exclusive contracts with just over 20 percent of the US Portable Restroom Industry and is also works with high profile companies such as the University of Tennessee/IMG College, Tennessee Titans, NASCAR, NFL, MLB, MLS, ESPN Worldwide Sports Complex, Disney Land, the City of Chicago, AC Entertainment, and Star Events. Establishing his company on the principals of creative problem-solving and providing value for all involved, Tunstall says entrepreneurialism appealed to him early. “After tasting success at the age of 23, I knew I would never depend on anyone for a paycheck again, other than myself,” he wrote in his application. “My confidence was heightened above most people in my age group when I made a decision to be a leader rather than an employee.” A graduate of the Propel Mentor/Protégé program, Tunstall’s confidence has grown Stall Talk, Inc. to 14 full-time employees with offices in four different cities. This year’s other finalists included John Sharpe, owner of StaffSource and Paul Sponcia, partner in The IT Company. The evening culminated with the presentation of the prestigious James A. Haslam, II Chairman’s Leadership Award, which honors a business leader who exhibits strength of character, resolve, commitment to the community, and success in business. The recipient of the 2013 James A. Haslam, II Chairman’s Leadership Award is described by friends as driven and dedicated, and he has become a pillar of the Raja Jubran community since starting his Knoxville-based construction firm in 1985. Over the past 27 years, Raja Jubran’s unwavering commitment to excellence has propelled Denark Construction Inc., to over $600 million of commercial and residential projects. Of Lebanese descent, Jubran came to Knoxville in 1977 to study engineering at the University of Tennessee and, after graduation, chose to make East Tennessee his home. Equally as recognized for his work ethic and community involvement, the CEO has served in numerous leadership roles including the Knoxville Symphony Board of Directors, the Board of Directors of Boys & Girls Club of Knoxville, the Knoxville Chamber, Leadership Knoxville, Investor’s Council of the Jobs Now! Campaign for Economic Development, and the United Way of Greater Knoxville, just to name a few. The 2013 Pinnacle Awards Gala presented by BB&T featured a silent auction and reception sponsored by Provision Center for Proton Therapy, a dinner and awards program emceed by WBIR’s Robin Wilhoit, and culminated in a toast to excellence sponsored by EnergySolutions. Additional sponsors of the event included The Greater Knoxville Business Journal, NewsTalk 98.7, and Bluegill Creative. Production assistance was provided by Bandit Lites and Sound Ventures.

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 59

BUSINESSES MAKE A SPLASH AT SCHMOOZAPALOOZA VIII Over 500 businesspeople schmoozed their way to success at Schmoozapalooza VIII, the Chamber’s semiannual networking event and Table Top Expo. The Hawaiian-themed bash in the name of business featured over 65 exhibitors. THE NIGHT’S DOOR PRIZE WINNERS WERE: • $100 VISA gift card, $30 iTunes gift card, $50 Starbucks gift card courtesy of Comcast Business Class – Gary Robillard, First State Bank • Chamber Umbrella – Michael Croyle • Chamber Umbrella – Jacob Cameron, King College • Gatlinburg Getaway for 8 courtesy of HR Comp – Mike Nelson, Edward Jones Investment • iPad mini, $30 Amazon gift card, $40 iTunes gift card courtesy of Comcast Business Class – Cindy Arnold, Cumulus Media • 42” Plasma TV and Sound Bar courtesy of Sam’s Club at Walker Springs – Nikki Fryer, Paychex

Phil Williams interviews Chamber ambassador Daniel Monday, Slamdot!, on The Phil Williams show which aired live from Schmoozapalooza VIII on Newstalk 98.7.

Curtis Johnson and Jennifer Brown were on hand to man the table for event sponsor, Comcast Business Class.

Cellular Sales, event sponsor and the Chamber’s official wireless provider, shared information on their service offerings and business solutions.

HR Comp treated attendees to cupcakes along with information about their human resource, payroll, and insurance services.

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 60

Knoxville Entrepreneur Center Celebrates Grand Opening “A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” - Nolan Bushnell The Knoxville Entrepreneur Center celebrated its official grand opening on Market Square during First Friday festivities last month. The center is a joint publicprivate venture, and will serve as a resource for aspiring business owners working to turn their dreams into reality. “When I ran for office, one of the things I heard from business people was the need for a place to encourage and help them put their ideas and dreams into action,” said City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. “I think this becomes that coffee shop where all that can happen.” Helping to connect start-ups with the professionals or services that could elevate their idea to the next level, the center features collaborative space for work and social networking, a conference room, presentation corner, and reading room stocked with titles that have inspired local established executives. During the grand opening, successful entrepreneur and KEC Executive Director Mike Carroll expressed his eagerness to encourage and assist local entrepreneurs through the resources offered at the center. “At the beginning of everything is a dream,” he said. “Don’t give up on that! We can work through the rest of it.” Executives echo Carroll’s hope the atmosphere of support and collaboration created by the center will energize and inspire local entrepreneurs. “The entrepreneur center will serve as a hub for individuals seeking resources

and direction regarding their ideas,” said Rhonda Rice, executive vice president of the Knoxville Chamber. “Instead of becoming frustrated by dead ends, entrepreneurs will now have a place where they can receive accurate Elected officials, city representatives and representatives of the guidance as to business community celebrate the grand opening of the Knoxville what their next Entrepreneur Center at 17 Market Square. steps should be.” The center is a non-profit venture spearheaded by the City of Knoxville, the city’s Industrial Development Board and members of the private sector who helped provide initial funding for the center. Local law firm Bernstein, Stair, McAdams also donated its legal services to help launch the center. Located at 17 Market Square below the Knoxville Chamber offices, the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center is open Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Healthcare Legislation Discussed at March Briefing With legislation significantly affecting healthcare for Tennesseans at the forefront of the 2013 session, Senator Becky Duncan Massey and Vice President of Government Relations for the University of Tennessee Medical Center John Sheridan discussed the impact of these decisions on the local business community during a March 22 Legislative Briefing sponsored by AT&T. Though Governor Bill Haslam has since rejected Medicaid expansion coverage as it currently stands, both Massey and Sheridan expressed their support of the expansion. “One of the things I’m most passionate about is our vulnerable populations, which is one of the main reasons I support expansion,” said Massey. “Oftentimes those folks don’t have a voice down in Nashville, and if this plan is something that can save their lives and improve their health then I want to support it on their behalf.” Noting the economic impact of the plan, Massey and Sheridan also cited the impact on local hospitals as a reason for supporting expansion. “Whether these folks are enrolled in Tenncare or not, they’re still going to get sick and come to our emergency rooms for treatment,” said Sheridan. “Sometimes we get paid, sometimes we don’t. Our thought is that over the next three years we’d be happy to receive some money for their treatment.” Acknowledging the need to include a clause permitting revision of the plan if the federal government changes its level of funding, both Sheridan and Massey favored the so-called Florida plan, which allows for re-evaluation after three years of expansion. “Hospitals are comfortable with whatever backstops are included in the Governor’s plan, provided the federal government doesn’t hold up its end of the bargain

and fund at a certain level,” said Sheridan. “What we would like is the opportunity to receive a little reimbursement for treatment given to indigent patients over the next few years and to have that time to create a system that will provide them with adequate healthcare.” Massey also discussed the possibility that during the three years of federally funded expansion, the state government may be able to develop a viable, alternative means of support for the program. “I don’t want to create a situation where we are taking money from other areas – education, the health department, our roads – to fund expansion,” said Massey. “My hope is that the economic impact will generate enough money to help support these additional costs in the event that federal funding decreases significantly.” In addition to the implications of the Affordable Healthcare Act, Massey also weighed in on legislation giving motorcycle riders the choice wearing a helmet. “The helmet bill has wings this year, but the problem comes when people don’t consider the whole cost,” said Massey. “The base cost of an emergency room visit is significant, not to mention the resulting long term costs of brain injuries which could include permanent disability, job loss, or long term care. If it was just a personal freedom cost I could come a little closer to understanding it, but if this passes, it is going to affect healthcare costs for everyone which isn’t responsible – when we’re already looking at changes that will significantly impact that field.”

Sponsored by:

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 61


(March 2013)

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



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

% Change Mar. ’12Mar. ‘13

Mar. 2013

Feb. 2013

Mar. 2012

% Change Feb. ’13Mar. ‘13

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

231,160 364,370 3,092,600 154,727,000

234,750 371,610 3,077,900 154,316,000

0.5 0.5 0.3 -0.1

-1.1 -1.5 0.8 0.1

335,500 2,736,400

333,000 2,720,500

329,500 2,697,700

0.8 0.6

1.8 1.4

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

Residential Closings Residential Inventory Median Residential Price

Mar. 2013 1,094 13,929 $137,275

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

Mar. 2012 934 13,928 $139,075

% Change Feb. ’13Mar. ‘13 -9.4 -3.4 -0.9

% Change Mar. ’12Mar. ‘13 17.1 0.0 -1.3

Source: Knoxville Area Association of Realtors

Non-Ag Employment Knoxville MSA Tennessee


Knoxville (City)

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

Feb. 2013* 29 17 12

Feb. 2012 7 7 0

% Change Feb. ’12Feb. ‘13 314.3 142.9 100.0

Knox Co.

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

114 102 12

74 74 0

54.1 37.8 100.0

Knoxville MSA

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

138 126 12

95 95 0

45.3 32.6 100.0


Total Single-Family Multi-Family

1,446 1,157 289

1,038 938 100

39.3 23.3 189.0

Available Labor Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee

15,890 26,440 277,370

16,230 27,020 282,500

14,630 25,630 274,070

-2.1 -2.1 -1.8

8.6 3.2 1.2

6.2 6.6 8.1 7.6

6.4 6.7 8.2 8.1

5.7 6.3 8.1 8.4

-0.2 -0.1 -0.1 -0.5

0.5 0.3 0.0 -0.8

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

Mar. ’12-‘13

Feb. ’12-‘13

Mar. ’11-‘12

1.6 1.5

1.9 2.0

2.8 2.7


% Change Feb. ’12Mar. ‘13

% Change Mar. ’11Mar. ‘13

-0.3 -0.5

-1.2 -1.2

*South – City Size Class B/C

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

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

Mar. 2013

Feb. 2013

Mar. 2012

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

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

43,578,791 60,706,709 537,964,527

7.3 5.8 4.8

-0.8 -1.5 0.1

11,811,463 16,428,662

11,247,091 15,865,573

12,014,241 16,651,489

5.0 3.5

-1.7 -1.3

% Change Mar. ’12Mar. ‘13 1.8 -2.1 3.1 -4.5 3.9 4.2 0.8 -1.7 -3.6 -0.8 1.9 3.0 10.1 4.5

Local Sales Tax Knox Co. Knoxville MSA

% Change Mar. ’12Mar. ‘13

% Change Feb. ’13Mar. ‘13


Passengers Cargo

Feb. 2013 111,815 6,738,025

Jan. 2013 115,984 7,671,100

Feb. 2012 126,402 7,422,837

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

Mar. 2013 427,092 24,730 20,667 7,802 55,031 48,011 8,161 46,798 50,918 23,699 9,943 84,369 39,469

Feb. 2013 380,150 19,400 17,638 7,756 49,306 41,821 7,293 41,598 46,640 21,883 9,312 73,641 37,515

419,599 25,254 20,054 8,167 52,981 46,071 8,094 47,587 52,809 23,889 9,758 81,923 35,842

% Change Feb. ’13Mar. ‘13 12.3 27.5 17.2 0.6 11.6 14.8 11.9 12.5 9.2 8.3 6.8 14.6 5.2





Mar. 2012

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

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 62

EST. 1869

% Change Jan. ’13Feb. ‘13 -3.6 -12.2

% Change Feb. ’12Feb. ‘13 -11.5 -9.2

15 Big Ideas Selected for What’s the Big Idea?! Business Plan Competition Three Local Entrepreneurs Announced as Coaches The Knoxville Chamber, The Development Corporation of Knox County, and Tech 20/20 are pleased to announce 15 contestants for this year’s What’s the Big Idea?! business plan competition presented by Rodefer Moss & Company, PLLC. Selected from over 30 applicants, the contestants’ Big Ideas were chosen based on growth potential, innovation and/or technical feasibility, newness of the concept or plan, and viability of a sustainable, competitive advantage. After attending several Big Idea Launch seminars led by local business leaders, contestants will prepare to pitch their idea on May 7 at Team Selection Night. Inspired by the hit television show The Voice, Team Selection Night adds a new dimension to this year’s competition – engaging successful, local entrepreneurs as coaches for these hopefuls. After hearing all 15 pitches, coaches Parker Frost, founder of Gigmark Interactive; John Tolsma, owner of Knowledge Launch; and Jimmy Rodefer, CEO of Rodefer Moss & Company, PLLC, will each select three contestants to be part of their team. The three coaches, who all have been recipients of the Knoxville Chamber’s Pinnacle Young Entrepreneur Award, will then have one month to mentor their team members before contestants face-off in the Knock Out Competitions. Acknowledging the integral role mentors played in his own success, Tolsma is eager to hear the big ideas of these aspiring entrepreneurs. “Having the right people coach me has made the critical difference in so many of my decisions in business and in life,” he said. “I’m looking forward to returning the favor by working with entrepreneurs who fuel new ideas and innovations in our city. I’m looking for the entrepreneur that has a plan that will lead to results. So, if you’ve got it, bring it.” On June 3, the nine semifinalists will pitch their idea to an independent panel of judges in three separate Knock Out Competitions. Judges will select a winner from each Knock Out Competition, which will lead to the identification of three finalists who will advance to the What’s the Big Idea?! Finale on June 20 at Relix Variety Theater.

THE 15 CONTESTANTS FOR 2013 ARE: Back to the Farm Wear, Brian Douglas High-quality, farm inspired apparel and accessories line Billy Lush Brand, LLC, Abe Kiggins Lifestyle/fitness brand promoting wellness through non-traditional activities CampusLife, Chad Tate College-centered social media site focused on facilitating real world connections Dwelln, Casey Peters Web-based platform designed to simplify role of property manager or owner Greenlight – Frustration Free E-mail Newsletters, Gavin Baker Strategic e-mail communications company

Loopyr, Chris Collins Mobile application leveraging fingerprint technology and commercial advertising Parker Frost, Founder and President of Neural Energy Games, Gigmark – Since launching his first promotional Charles Chin sales start-up in 2007, Parker has played a role Educational video games in launching a variety of companies including company targeting college CMOco, an independent marketing company; freshmen level courses Breathe Green, a comprehensive mold removal PipeFighters Square, Steven service; and Gigmark, a customer software solutions company that specializes in Interactive Flash Pierson Drive Technology. Gigmark’s patented technology Innovative pipe fitting tool has afforded Parker contracts with companies PTlink, Trevor Grieco such as General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Interactive mobile application and NASCAR. that improves recovery by connecting clinicians and patients John Tolsma, CEO of Knowledge Launch Sports Equipment Tracking – A graduate of Duke University, Harvard Law School, and the Harvard Business School, John Company (HELMETRIX), started his first multi-million dollar company imFranklin Hodges mediately following graduation. Recognizing the Metric based program for need to make corporate education sessions more inspection and maintenance of meaningful and engaging, he founded Knowledge football helmets Launch in 2006 which has since been recognized Survature Inc., Jian Huang by the US Chamber of Commerce as a Blue RibOnline survey tool evaluating rebon Award recipient. spondent’s answers and behavior Jimmy Rodefer, CEO of Rodefer Moss & Co, Tata Coolerz, Kimberly Gillespie PLLC – Serving as the chief executive officer of Insulated, cooling gel packs for Rodefer Moss since 1999, Jimmy has 20 years of women experience in public accounting. Dedicating most TeVal, Jeff Gotcher of his time to serving companies in the construcWeb-based platform designed to tion industry, he also has a strong concentration streamline teacher evaluation in consulting services and has assisted several distressed companies with turnaround strateprocess gies. Additionally, Jimmy played an extensive role WasteToValueStone LLC, in financial administration of the World Trade Louwrens Mulder Center Disaster Project and the Hurricane Katrina Granite waste recycling Recovery Project. Woo-Hoo Enterprises, Steve Garner Internal load securement system The winning idea 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, compliments of Rodefer Moss & Co.

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 63


Chamber Launches New Advocacy Tool Integral to furthering the Chamber’s mission of Driving Regional Economic Prosperity is its role as an advocate for legislative issues impacting the business community’s ability to compete and grow in the marketplace. “Every strong community in the nation has a strong chamber of commerce supporting it,” said Jennifer Evans, vice president of public policy at the Knoxville Chamber. “It is our mission to serve as a go-to source for well-considered public policy and to empower our members to thoughtfully engage representatives at the local and state level.” In an effort to bolster member awareness of pending legislation and provide an avenue through which they can easily voice their position, the Chamber has

launched its new public policy tool, SpeakUp4Biz! A grassroots advocacy system, the tool allows the Chamber to alert members when crucial legislation is coming to a vote, educate them on the legislation’s potential impact, and provide verbiage they can quickly e-mail to the appropriate state and local representatives. “It is imperative that the business community speak up regarding legislation that significantly impacts workforce, education, and economic development,” said Evans. “SpeakUp4Biz makes it easy for professionals to engage, understanding that their involvement could directly influence the business climate at both the state and local level.” The tool’s initial test called members to oppose the elected superintendent bill, which failed to proceed at both the state and local level. Information on all active legislation being tracked by the Chamber and how to communicate with legislators can be found at

Four Local High Schools Advance to National Robotics Competition This March hundreds of high school students from across the Southeast filled the Knoxville Convention Center, armed with their safety glasses and Frisbee firing robots. When the Smoky Mountain Regional FIRST Robotics competition concluded, it was four teams from the Innovation Valley region who emerged victorious. The Oak Ridge High School Secret City Wildbots, Hardin Valley Academy roHAWKtics, Roane County High School Full Metal Jackets, and Halls High School Red Nation Robotics teams rose above the competition and advanced to the 2013 national tournament in St. Louis. Competing against 50 teams from nine states, students were given six weeks to build a robot that could climb a pyramid and accurately throw discs into elevated scoring targets. At the competition, alliances consisting of three robots each squared off in a twominute 15-second match. After an initial 15-second period of independent operation, drivers were able to take control over the machines in an attempt to maximize their alliance score by firing discs into the scoring boxes. At the match’s conclusion, robots

could attempt to climb pyramids located near the center of the game floor, scoring additional points based upon the height reached. Teams making up the winning alliance advanced to the next round of competition. “FIRST Robotics combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology,” said Jennifer Evans, vice president of public policy at the Knoxville Chamber. “Providing students with first-hand experiences in practical applications of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning, the competition inspires students to think about careers in these fields.” Growing from just three Tennessee-based teams at the inaugural event in 2009, this year’s competition featured 33 teams from across the state, 13 of which were from the Knoxville area. “It’s encouraging to see the growth we’ve experienced across the state,” said Evans. “STEM teaching and learning models like the FIRST Robotics competition are vital tools in preparing students to succeed in the 21st century workplace.

Secretary of Education Praises Tennessee’s Progress in Baker Center Lecture U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan advocated for expanding preschool programs, increasing teacher pay, and repealing the federal No Child Left Behind Act during his April 3 lecture at the University of Tennessee’s Baker Center. Praising the state’s current education reforms, Duncan told the full auditorium he was more concerned with the future of education in Tennessee than with past performance. “Tennessee is literally helping to lead the nation where we need to go in education,” said Duncan. “I’m not interested in where you’ve been, I’m interested in where you’re going.”

Following Duncan’s lecture, a panel of teachers, and community leaders including Governor Bill Haslam, Knox County School Superintendent Jim McIntyre, and Vice President of Public Policy at the Knoxville Chamber Jennifer Evans met to delve further into the county’s current education initiatives. Duncan was named secretary of education in 2009 by President Barack Obama. During his tenure, Duncan has launched reform initiatives such as Race to the Top, supported the use of $100 billion in stimulus funding for the creation of 325,00 teaching jobs, and strategized ways to improve low-performing schools.

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 64

Knox County Schools Budget Proposal Focuses on Four Key Investment Priorities Extolling positive gains in student achievement, academic growth, high school graduation rates, and composite ACT scores, Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre requested a 3.3-percent budgetary increase to help carry this progress into the 2013-14 school year. “While we have much to be proud of, and much to celebrate, there is also a great deal more to be done to ensure the academic success of every child, in every school, in every corner of our community,” he said. Noting the recommended $13.27 million increase is more conservative than last year’s request, McIntyre believes the budget proposal will allow the school system to continue building upon current academic gains without adversely impacting taxpayers. “The fiscal year 2014 budget recommendation will allow us to continue and deepen our core instructional work, without creating a significant additional burden on the taxpayers of our community,” McIntyre said. In order to achieve these goals within the recommended budgets, McIntyre’s proposal outlines four strategic investment priorities: enhancing educator compensation, sustaining instructional improvement initiatives, facilitating personal learning supported by technology, and bolstering student safety efforts.

1. ENHANCING EDUCATOR COMPENSATION According to the Tennessee Education Association, last year the average salary of a classroom teacher in Knox County Schools ranked 35th in the state with surrounding districts offering as much as $8,000 - $9,000 more in starting salaries. “In order for our school systems to become more competitive in retaining and attracting top teaching talent, we must make progress in increasing our base salary for educators, while simultaneously ensuring the sustainability of our strategic compensation system, APEX.” McIntyre’s budget proposal includes a full 1.5-percent pay raise for all teachers, payable at the beginning of the school year, with an additional 1-percent salary increase slated to take affect in January 2014. Along with teacher salaries, the budget also addresses the competitiveness of school principal salaries, including moving to year-round contracts for high school and middle school principals.

2. SUSTAINING INSTRUCTIONAL IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVES Continued investment in instructional improvement strategies is also a focus of the 2014 budget request, a focus McIntyre says is vital to lasting gains in academic achievement. “These critically important educational strategies are making a difference in student learning and success,” he said. “Therefore, sustaining these efforts is another one of our budget priorities for the 2014 fiscal year.” Pointing specifically to maintaining critical initiatives funded by the $7-million in-

crease appropriated for the current fiscal year, the proposed budget will support the continuation of early literacy efforts, teacher support and professional development, magnet and community schools, interventions and tutorial services, and academic enrichment for students.

3. FACILITATING PERSONALIZED LEARNING SUPPORTED BY TECHNOLOGY A third priority outlined in the fiscal year 2014 budget is the facilitation of personalized learning with the support of instructional technology, a priority considered particularly critical when examining the new, higher academic expectations of the Common Core State Standards. “Instructional technology can allow teachers to better personalize and differentiate their instruction, and enable educators to continuously and seamlessly adapt their teaching to meet the unique needs of their students,” said McIntyre. “In fact, a successful instructional technology initiative is not really about technology at all, it’s much more about what teachers and students can do with the technology.” Moving away from the broad based technology plan outlined in last year’s proposal, this year’s plan seeks funding to begin a 1:1 technology effort at eleven schools. Recipients were selected through the districts “School Technology Challenge,” which require participating schools to explain how instructional technology would specifically benefit their students. “We believe selecting a small, representative sample of schools to embrace instructional technology will leverage the creativity and expertise within our schools, build capacity for future expansion, and demonstrate success in schools across our community,” said McIntyre. “With this initiative parents, teachers, stakeholders, and taxpayers will be able to see how instructional technology is enhancing education right in their own neighborhood.”

4. BOLSTERING STUDENT SAFETY EFFORTS In response to the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, McIntyre is making the implementation of a foundational level of security resources a priority for every school in the district. “I believe these resources are critical to our on-going efforts to keep our children safe in our schools,” said McIntyre. “Therefore, I am integrating these proposals into the Knox County Schools fiscal year 2014 operating and capital budget recommendations.” Included in McIntyre’s plan are a current generation video camera system, a school access control strategy, and an armed, uniformed school resource or security officer at each school. Along with these four key priorities, McIntyre’s proposal also accounted for fixed costs and other expenditures requirements necessary to daily operations including transportation and facility costs, increased staffing needs, and servicing students with disabilities. The Board of Education approved McIntyre’s budget proposal during its April 8 meeting. Knox County Commission will evaluate both the school system’s recommendation and recommendations made by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett before voting on the county’s 2014 budget at their June 6 meeting.

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 65

Jimmy Haslam Featured at Executive Speaker Series Lunch



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

MAY 14 Business After Hours 5–7 p.m. • UT Gardens, Neyland Drive Sponsored by:

MAY 15 Burning Down the House: Crisis Response Demands More Than Good Talking Heads Presented by Mary Beth West, Mary Beth West Consulting 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.• Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square Cost: $25 Chamber Members/$25 for non-members (Lunch will be included.) Sponsored by:

Jimmy Haslam was the featured speaker at the Chamber’s April 10th execUTive Speaker Series Luncheon hosted at the Knoxville Marriott. Nearly 300 business leaders attended the lunch to hear him talk about Pilot Flying J and his ownership of the Cleveland Browns.

JUNE 6 Business After Hours 5 – 7 p.m. • Hilton Knoxville, 501 West Church Ave.

Sponsored by:

Sponsored by:

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 66

Commerce May 2013  
Commerce May 2013  

The official newsletter of the Knoxville Chamber.