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INSIDE: Schmoozapalooza X Recap pg. 56 + Monthly Economic Indicators pg. 54




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.



The Knoxville Chamber congratulates Barbara Teague on her retirement from the Chamber on April 11 after 30 years of service.





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CDI Services Inc. (703) 232-3577 Construction & Contractors

Front Range Training (877) 577-4921 Education & Training

Country Oaks Apartments (865) 584-8918 Apartments

Fulin’s Asian Cuisine (865) 769-1515 Restaurants

Development Concepts (865) 766-5425 Business & Professional Services

Guaranty Trust Company (865) 824-2278 Real Estate: Mortgage Banking

Ethics Construction Company, LLC (865) 755-3216 Construction & Contractors: Residential

HealthSource Chiropractic (865) 240-4966 Healthcare Providers & Services: Chiropractors Hospitality Control Solutions (865) 312-1033 Business & Professional Services

Priority Ambulance (865) 688-4999 Haelthcare Providers and Services



Knoxville Magazine (865) 200-4319 Publishing/Publications LexLin Gypsy Ranch (865) 816-2761 Pet Care & Supplies M3 Technology Group (615) 227-0717 Audio-Visual Services Medex Patient Transport (865) 643-8666 Social Services: Senior Services

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Vanquish Worldwide (855) 468-2678 Business & Professional Services: Technical Services











ShredPro Secure (865) 938-6750 Business & Professional Services



Chamber Toasts Excellence at Tenth Annual Pinnacle Business Awards Gala


ore than 500 people gathered at the Knoxville Convention Center on May 2 to celebrate the finalist and winners of the 2014 Pinnacle Business Awards, presented by BB&T. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the prestigious awards gala. In that time, the Knoxville Chamber and its board of directors have awarded more than 80 Pinnacle awards to outstanding businesses and individuals in the community. “The Pinnacle Business Awards Gala provides the community with an opportunity to pause and celebrate the best of the best in area business,” said Mike Edwards, president and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber. “We are very proud of this year’s recipients and know they’ll continue to be great assets to the region.”

raised $33,753 for the American Cancer Society. Fricks said this is one of the company’s most cherished programs, as more than half of the Copper Cellar family of restaurant’s workforce is female and many have firsthand experience with breast cancer. In addition to helping people in the community, Copper Cellar Restaurants is committed to improving the environment. The company was an early adopter of green practices and has been implementing energy-efficient methods since 1981. All of the restaurants now have energy-efficient appliances, new green HVAC units, and fresh air dampers that reduce compressor usage. Other finalists in this category were Alcoa, Inc. and Gerdau.


Innovator Award, presented by Sword & Shield Enterprise Security, is

Impact Award, sponsored by Publix, is given to an East Tennessee non-charitable business committed to making the region a better place to live through the development and support of community projects or programs.

2014 WINNER — COPPER CELLAR RESTAURANTS Copper Cellar Restaurants is dedicated not only to serving great food, but also to serving the community. Since 1975, the restaurant group — which is composed of Calhoun’s, Copper Cellar, Smoky Mountain Brewery, Chesapeake’s, and the Cherokee Grill — has made it a priority to make East Tennessee a better place to live. “The Copper Cellar family of restaurants is proud to partner with established local programs that improve our community and start new programs of our own whenever we identify a need,” said Bart Fricks, chief operating officer of Copper Cellar Restaurants. Annually, the restaurant group works with the Knoxville News Sentinel Open to benefit the Empty Stocking Fund, which provides toys and food for families in need during the holiday season. It also provides free meals for veterans to thank them for their service on Veterans Day. In 2013, it provided more than $40,000 in meals to 3,000-plus veterans. Last October, the company’s “Making Strides for More Birthdays” program

given to an East Tennessee business that has developed a new technology, innovative product, or service, or applied a business system or service in an innovative way.

2014 WINNER — GIGMARK INTERACTIVE MEDIA Gigmark Interactive Media came onto the scene in 2007 with a unique piece of technology – the Interactive Flash Drive. A concept created by 2012 Pinnacle Young Entrepreneur Award winner Parker Frost, the product provides customers with an interactive sales and marketing tool. Unlike an ordinary USB drive that has to be manually updated by the user, Gigmark’s IFD automatically updates itself and provides important insights into the behavior of the user. Frost originally identified the music industry as the target market for the technology, allowing artists to distribute their music in a new way, as well as stay in touch with their fans, sell their merchandise and track their users’ behaviors. However, it was when Gigmark refocused its technology to serve corporate America, that the product really took off. In 2008, Gigmark worked with its first corporate client Philips’ Day-Brite. The company used the IFD technology to house a digital version its 2,200-page catalogue. The automatically updating drive was able to tell Day-Brite who was looking at the catalog, what pages they were looking at, how long they were there, and what videos they may have downloaded about the product – allowing the sales staff to receive qualified leads. Day-Brite’s decision to use the IFD

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 49

See “Pinnacle” on pg. 50

“Pinnacle” continued from pg. 49

Minority-Owned Business Excellence Award, presented

for their catalogue not only helped the company’s sales and marketing efforts; it also saved it $3.3 million in printing costs. Gigmark has since provided similar solutions to GM, Ford, Sony, the Marines, and Ally Bank just to name a few. Gigmark has seen substantial growth since 2007. The company has acquired Digital Media Graphics in 2010, which in turn purchased Bluegill Creative in 2013. It also launched a new platform called YakityApp, which is a fundraising platform for nonprofits. ChoiceSpine and Functional Pathways were also finalists in this category.

The Small Business Excellence Award, presented by BB&T, honors an East Tennessee small business that has 50 employees or less companywide. The winner demonstrates the ability to overcome obstacles as well as a historical index of growth in revenues and workforce.

2014 WINNER — MASTER DRY FOUNDATION AND WATERPROOFING SPECIALISTS Specializing in foundation repair, basement waterproofing, and crawl space repair, Master Dry Foundation and Waterproofing Specialists is a family-owned and operated business that’s been in Knoxville since 2009. When it began operations, the company had five employees and two service trucks. Today, Master Dry boasts more than 40 staff members and 20 service vehicles. Master Dry owners Joshua Smith and Jonathan Babcock attribute the company’s success to following a guiding tenent in its mission statement — “do what’s right.” “We hire the best people, use the best products, train constantly, focus on our customer and their needs and work on our culture daily,” Smith said. “We do not make excuses when things go wrong. We take care of the customer. Period.” The company grew exponentially from 2010 to 2013. In Fiscal Year 2011 alone, Master Dry had a 200 percent increase in sales and added 21 new jobs. Since then, it has continued to have excellence sales growth and add more new positions. Smith said one way the company ensures quality behind its work is by not using subcontractors to perform any of the labor. “A subcontractor can leave a job unfinished or substandard and compromise what we promised and our reputation of ‘doing what’s right.’ ” Smith said. “It is too important to us. We purchased an electrical company in 2013 and now only use our own electricians for electrical requirements and products we sell.” In addition to having their own electricians, Master Dry has also hired a full-time professional engineer to guarantee they continue “doing what’s right.” Other finalists in this category were 3 Minute Magic Carwash of Knoxville and ExpoQuip, Inc.

by Covenant Health, recognizes companies that have achieved notable growth and are at least 51 percent owned by an ethnic minority.

2014 WINNER — SECURITY WALLS As retired special agent for the FBI, Juanita Walls combined her investigative skills and business savvy to create Security Walls in 2003. The company specializes in providing comprehensive security solutions and investigative services to government and private sector clients. Based in Knoxville, Security Walls provides services to locations in Alabama, Texas, New York, Illinois, New Mexico, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The company is also in the process of obtaining licensure so it can expand to several other states. The company regularly contracts with the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Defense. The company’s revenues have increased dramatically over the last three years and projections for 2014 are double that of 2013 – mainly due to the company being awarded the contract to provide armed security guard services at the Internal Revenue Service National Campus in Washington DC, as well as three IRS facilities in cities across the country. Security Walls currently employs more than 400 security specialists throughout the country. Wall’s said her company’s long-term goal is to be a large, reputable, financially stable security firm recognized on a national basis for our quality of service, customer satisfaction, and business ethics. H&T Enterprises, Inc. and Markets Demand More, LLC were also finalists in this category.

The Woman-Owned Business Excellence Award, presented by LBMC, is given to an outstanding East Tennessee woman-owned business. Companies must be at least 51 percent owned and operated by one or more women.

2014 WINNER — KATOM RESTAURANT SUPPLY, INC. Patricia Bible’s KaTom Restaurant Supply, Inc. is a recipe for success that keeps growing year after year. Bible and her husband, Tim, started the company in their garage in 1987 as a better way to supply the restaurants they owned. The idea proved to be successful, as other franchisees began buying from their reserve. Soon the Bibles moved their in-home business to a small warehouse where they began selling a wider array of restaurant supplies. Following her husband’s unexpected passing in 2001, Bible stepped into the role of CEO and sole principal and became a trailblazer as a female executive in a male-dominated industry. She led the company through the transition to online sales and later added its first outside sales force to further expand KaTom’s reach. Later she created a Contract and Design Department that enables the company to assist customers from design to sale to installation.

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 50

Since Bible took the reins, the staff has grown by 70 positions and the company has seen revenues increase five-fold. Between 2009 and 2012, the company’s revenue grew 186 percent from $15.2 million to $43.6 million. KaTom has been deemed by Inc. magazine as one of the 5,000 fastest growing companies in America. In 2012, KaTom moved from a modest 20,000-square-foot warehouse to a 100,000-square-foot facility in Kodak, Tenn., where it can fulfill orders on the more than 190,000 products listed on The company also maintains dropship agreements with nearly 600 vendors. Other finalists in this category were Cannon & Cannon, Inc. and Harmony Family Center.

The Business Excellence Awards are divided into a mid-sized category for businesses with 51-200 total employees, and a large category for those companies with 201 or more employees. The Business Excellence Awards recognize East Tennessee businesses that have shown remarkable profitability, growth, and stability. Companies must have a significant presence in East Tennessee and be nationally or internationally recognized in their respective sectors.

Business Excellence Award (mid-size company), presented by the Knoxville Chamber

2014 WINNER - COULTER & JUSTUS Since 1993, Coulter & Justus has been serving the Knoxville area with top-notch accounting and financial service. Formed with 17 employees and less than $1 million in revenue, the firm has steadily grown to have more than 70 employees and over $10 million in revenue. “As CPAs, we are technical advisors, problem solvers, and resource providers to a wide range of clients,” said Mike Parton, managing principal at Coulter Justus. Parton said when the firm started out, it was limited to audit and tax compliance services. However, now those services have expanded to include audits; taxes; wealth management; litigation support; and valuation and transaction advisory; and speciality services. Coulter & Justus operate offices in Knoxville and Oak Ridge. The firm serves a broad range of clients, including publicly held companies in the U.S. and Canada, non-profits, family businesses, and entrepreneurs. “Our clients are our firm’s No. 1 priority. Bottom line, we care about our people, our clients, and getting ‘it’ right,” Parton said. “Getting ‘it’ right is our definition of business excellence and what drives us to serve, evolve, and grow every day.” Harper Auto Square and Visionary Solutions, LLC were also finalists for this award.

Business Excellence Award (large company), presented by ARG Financial Staffing

2014 WINNER - 21ST MORTGAGE For nearly 20 years, 21st Mortgage has been helping people achieve their dreams of homeownership. “The ‘essentials of life’ are food and shelter,” said Tim Williams, CEO of 21st Mortgage. “(We) specialize in helping moderate to lowerincome families acquire affordable shelter.” Since it began in 1995, 21st Mortgage has offered financing plans for manufactured home customers. At first, the company primarily focused on serving customers in the South, but now it has expanded to provide more than 100,000 manufactured home loans across the country. 21st Mortgage has operated profitably since opening its doors. It currently owns or services 173,600 manufactured home loans which total approximately $7.5 billion. The company’s business isn’t the only thing that has grown since it began. When the company opened it had four employees - three of which were its founders. Today, 21st Mortgage has nearly 600 team members working in its downtown Knoxville office. The company has been the largest employer of graduates from the University of Tennessee, Maryville College, and East Tennessee State University since 2006, and boasts competitive compensation and benefits packages for its team members. “Adhering to the strategic plan and principles adopted by the founders in 1995 to focus on manufactured homes, hiring the best and brightest, creating loan programs based on feedback from customers and retailers, and treating customers fairly is why 21st Mortgage has risen to the pinnacle of the manufactured home lending,” Williams said. Other finalists in the category were Cornerstone of Recovery and U.S. Cellular.

The Lifetime Achievement Award, is presented periodically by the Chamber to an individual who has exhibited a history of distinguished service to the organization. Winners of this award have dedicated tireless hours to helping ensure the Chamber is serving the business community appropriately and effectively.

2014 WINNER – DR. JOE JOHNSON For nearly three decades, University of Tennessee President Emeritus Dr. Joe Johnson has been actively engaged with the Chamber. He currently serves on the Chamber’s finance committee, which he has actively served on for 15 years. Johnson has been involved with the Chamber since 1989 when he was the executive vice president for development at UT and recognized the symbiosis between the university and the business community. Johnson served as president of UT from 1990 to 1999. In addition to the Cham-

See “Pinnacle” on pg. 52

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 51

“Pinnacle” continued from pg. 51 ber, Johnson holds membership in a number of honor societies and educational organizations, and has served on a number of non-profit community boards in membership and leadership positions including Smoky Mountain Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Helen Ross McNabb Mental Health Center Foundation, and Knox Area Rescue Ministries among others. “We have been tremendously lucky to have someone of Dr. Johnson’s intellect and background engaged with the Chamber for such a long period of time,” said Edwards. “As staff and committee members have changed throughout the years, he has provided important historical perspective and insight and enabled us to become a better organization. We would be remiss if we didn’t take advantage of this opportunity to recognize and thank Dr. Johnson for all he has done, and we hope will continue to do, for the Chamber.”

The Young Entrepreneur Award presented by UT-Battelle, is presented to a young professional, 40 years of age or younger as of May 2, 2014, who lives and works in East Tennessee and has achieved success while overcoming obstacles, to become one of tomorrow’s top business leaders. The winner will have started or is at risk in ownership in their non-franchisee business. They will have taken their business practices and moved a company from early growth to some maturity.

2014 WINNER - JOHN SHARPE, STAFFSOURCE LLC John Sharpe founded StaffSource LLC in 2002 to focus on providing professional recruiting and staffing services. Since then, StaffSource has grown to become the parent company of multiple subsidiaries: ARG Financial Staffing, Southeastern Technology Consultants, and ARG Executive Search. In 2012, Sharpe started a separate company, StaffSource Employee Solutions, which specializes in payroll and employee administration management. As president, Sharpe said he designs strategy, drives execution, and provides leadership for the organization as it works toward its goals. And while taking risks can be a drawback to entrepreneurship, Sharpe said that’s the aspect he thrives on. “I have talked with many people that have visions and ideas, but very few of them are willing to accept the risks involved in moving those visions to a reality,” Sharpe said. “Embracing that risk and making the vision a reality, in spite of what sometimes may seem like endless challenges motivates me to succeed.” Sharpe said through his leadership, his company has achieved aggressive growth. StaffSource’s average growth rate is 40 percent, while the organization has

grown into a $5 million company, employing 15 internal staff members. “Success has come only through persistence and drive even during turbulent times,” Sharpe said. “My ability to complete the journey – from vision to fruition – is what truly sets me apart.” Other individuals nominated for this category were Joseph Nother of Designsensory and Devin Driscoll of Next Level Training.

The James A. Haslam II Chairman’s Leadership Award sponsored by Prestige Cleaners, is given to a longtime business leader that exhibits strength in character, resolve, and a commitment to the community, as well as has demonstrated exemplary success in the regional business community.

2014 HONOREE - RANDY BOYD Passionate and dedicated are just a few words that describe Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd. Through his sincere love for animals and education, Boyd has had a tremendous impact on the community. As founder and CEO of Radio Systems Corporation, Boyd has built a successful business that focuses on providing the best products and care for pets. In 2009, his brand PetSafe teamed up with Knoxville and Knox County to make the area the “Most Pet Friendly Community” by donating a total $600,000 for the construction of six dog parks around the area. The dog parks, along with countless volunteer hours and more than $500,000 in charitable donations, were a big reason Radio Systems Corporation won last year’s Impact Award at the Pinnacle awards. In 2008, Boyd sought to better the lives of the students living in Knox County by founding KnoxAchieves. The program was created to increase higher education opportunities for Knox County students by providing last dollar scholarships and mentor guidance. KnoxAchieves was so successful at the county level that it has now been renamed and rolled out at the state level as tnAchieves. Because of Boyd’s efforts, students from 23 of the state’s 95 counties have now had the opportunity to attend college at no cost. Because of the immense success tnAchieves has had, Gov. Bill Haslam asked Boyd to be his special advisor on education in 2012. In this role, he spearheaded the governor’s Drive to 55 initiative, which aims to bring the percentage of Tennesseans with college degrees or certifications to 55 percent by the year 2025. The state is currently at 32 percent. Boyd serves on the board of several non-profit organizations, including Innovation Valley, Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, University of Tennessee College of Business Development Council, University of Tennessee Alumni Association, and Knox County’s Great Schools Partnership.

The Knoxville Chamber encourages the business community to be engaged and aware of public policy issues. With several seats being contested on the Knox County School Board, the Chamber asked candidates questions relative to workforce development and public education reform. Read what the candidates had to say by visiting or by scanning the QR code below:


Butch Jones Headlines Sold Out Premier Partner Event University of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones was the featured speaker at a recent Premier Partner event hosted at Cherokee Country Club and sponsored by Cope & Associates Inc., Architecture. Jones spoke to a sold-out crowd of more than 175 about the business of college football. “Running a football organization is a great challenge,” Jones said. “If you ask me, like any CEO or manager of a company, what do you enjoy the most? The thing I enjoy most is painting a vision for where we’re going.” Jones has been the Vols head coach at for a little more than 18 months. During that time he and his coaching staff have focused on rebuilding Tennessee’s football program “brick by brick.” “It’s not a fancy slogan,” Jones said. “It’s something that we truly believe in. You win with people and people make a place. So every brick is symbolic of first of all the foundation that needs to be built, but also symbolic of every individual in our football organization.” Jones said one way he and his staff have been building that foundation is through an increased emphasis on academics. When Jones arrived at UT, the football program was at risk for being sanctioned by the NCAA due to its Academic Progress Rate, which measures eligibility and retention for Division I student-athletes. However, with hard work and dedication in the classroom, the team made a perfect score for the last measured term and avoided penalties. “It’s student first and athlete second,” Jones said. “In recruiting that’s one of our big selling points - our academic reputation. We have tremendous academics at Tennessee - our GPA, our players go to class. They understand the standards

Butch Jones poses for a photo with Lanny Cope and employees of Cope Associates, Inc. Architecture at the April 17 Premier Partner event.

and expectations, but we had to teach them how to dress, where to sit, to bring a notebook to class. Those are skills that will help them, whether part of the National Football League or in their first board meeting. I want them to be different because they’re part of Tennessee.” Watch a video of Jones’ entire speech on the Chamber’s YouTube channel at


Innovation Valley Releases First Quarter Stakeholder Update for 2014 The first quarter of 2014 started off strong for Innovation Valley’s economic development efforts. Three new recruits and five existing business expansions were announced, Knoxville garnered a top ranking from Forbes magazine, and a major manufacturing recruit started production. The quarter was headlined by an announcement by Fresenius Medical Care that they would be establishing an east coast manufacturing facility in Knox County, followed by an expansion announcement by K12, Inc. in Blount County, as well as Flowers Foods opening a commercial bakery in Knox County. In all, 1,491 new jobs and $209.5 in capital investments were announced for the Innovation Valley region. “We are really excited that we have had significant job announcements in Innovation Valley during the last several months. This is one of the strongest quarters we have had in a long time,” said Doug Lawyer, vice president of economic development at the Knoxville Chamber.

Additionally, Forbes magazine ranked Knoxville No. 5 on its 2014 list of America’s Most Affordable Cities. Knoxville gained accolades due to its low cost of living and affordable housing market. “The Knoxville area provides a number of amenities, but No. 1 is a great low cost of living,” says Rhonda Rice, executive vice president of the Knoxville Chamber. “Tennessee has a very affordable tax structure. You combine that with the natural amenities—the mountains and the lakes—and those attributes make it a great place to live.” The quarter concluded with the inauguration for Del Conca’s manufacturing facility in Loudon County. The company will be manufacturing Italian ceramic tiles in its new 320,000-square-foot building. Del Conca started the site search process in 2008 and announced its location to Innovation Valley in late 2012. With a $70 million capital investment, Del Conca’s new facility will create over 170 new jobs in the Innovation Valley region. For more information about Innovation Valley, and to view the latest stakeholder update in its entirety, visit

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(March 2014)

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

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

HOUSING MARKET % Change Mar. ’13Mar. ‘14

Mar. 2014

Feb. 2014

Mar. 2013

% Change Feb. ’14Mar. ‘14

226,430 355,730 3,031,200 155,627,000

224,620 353,470 3,017,000 155,027,000

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

0.8 0.6 0.5 0.4

-2.5 -2.8 -2.3 0.7

336,500 2,774,900

334,300 2,752,700

330,400 2,730,400

0.7 0.8

1.8 1.6

13,910 22,840 236,650

14,330 24,180 248,860

15,890 26,440 277,370

-2.9 -5.5 -4.9

-12.5 -13.6 -14.7

5.6 5.8 7.0 6.8

5.7 6.1 7.3 7.0

6.2 6.6 8.1 7.6

-0.1 -0.3 -0.3 -0.2

-0.6 -0.8 -1.1 -0.8

Non-Ag Employment Knoxville MSA Tennessee

Residential Closings Residential Inventory Median Residential Price

Mar. 2014 1,061 10,304 $143,500

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 Mar. ’12Mar. ‘14 -0.2 0.0

Mar. ’13-‘14

Feb. ’13-‘14

Mar. ’12-‘13

1.4 1.5

1.1 1.1

1.6 1.5

0.3 0.4

% Change Mar. ’13Mar. ‘14

Knoxville (City)

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

Feb. 2014* 38 19 19

Feb. 2013 29 17 12

% Change Feb. ’13Feb. ‘14 31.0 11.8 58.3

Knox Co.

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

124 105 19

114 102 12

8.8 2.9 58.3

Knoxville MSA

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

145 126 19

136 124 12

6.6 1.6 58.3


Total Single-Family Multi-Family

1,860 1,257 603

1,446 1,197 249

28.6 5.0 142.2

Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee

Mar. 2014

Feb. 2014

Mar. 2013

% Change Feb. ’14Mar. ‘14

42,676,482 59,998,231 568,198,995

41,042,037 56,877,874 519,696,988

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

4.0 5.5 9.3

-1.3 0.4 5.5

11,472,289 15,949,506

11,811,463 16,428,662

2.0 4.7

-1.0 1.7

% Change Mar. ’13Mar. ‘14 2.6 6.2 -2.3 -2.0 -0.1 2.8 1.0 -3.9 -0.2 4.0 -3.9 9.1 8.0 -5.5


Passengers Cargo

Feb. 2014 109,718 5,995,517

Jan. 2014 115,846 6,180,428

Feb. 2013 111,725 6,735,625

Source: Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority

Local Sales Tax Knox Co. Knoxville MSA

*All 2014 building permit data is preliminary and therefore subject to revision throughout the year. Sources: U.S. Housing & Urban Development – SOCDS – State of the Cities Data Systems; U.S. Census Bureau – Building Permits Survey

*South – City Size Class B/C


1,094 13,929 $137,275


CONSUMER PRICE INDEX (CPI) - ALL ITEMS % Change Feb. ’13Mar. ‘14

Mar. 2013

11,699,093 16,704,409

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. 2014

Feb. 2014

438,675 25,543 20,543 7,754 55,032 49,412 8,372 45,451 55,247 24,889 9,626 90,896 39,089

386,277 19,592 18,045 7,890 50,599 43,155 7,542 40,045 48,840 23,174 9,140 75,874 36,561

427,702 24,049 21,035 7,910 55,060 48,054 8,288 47,282 55,348 23,933 10,020 83,307 36,201

% Change Feb. ’14Mar. ‘14 13.6 30.4 13.8 -1.7 8.8 14.5 11.0 13.5 13.1 7.4 5.3 19.8 6.9





Mar. 2013

% Change Mar. ’13Mar. ‘14 -3.0 -26.0 4.5

Source: Knoxville Area Association of Realtors

Available Labor Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee

Feb. 2014 810 9,847 $131,400

% Change Feb. ’14Mar. ‘14 31.0 4.6 9.2

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 | 54

EST. 1869

% Change Jan. ’14Feb. ‘14 -5.3 -3.0

% Change Feb. ’13Feb. ‘14 -1.8 -11.0

Legislative Briefing Series Concludes with Panel On State Budget The Knoxville Chamber concluded its three-part Legislative Briefing series, sponsored by AT&T, on April 4 with a panel discussion on Tennessee’s budget. State Reps. Ryan Haynes, Steve Hall, and Roger Kane were present to discuss the budget shortfall facing the state. “We are mandated constitutionally to balance our budget,” Kane said. “We’re not like Washington where we can make up or borrow money. So every year we have to balance the budget and we do it based on projections that we think are going to happen. However this year we were a little off.” With a $277 million shortfall in the state’s $33 billion budget, two major items that were cut this year were raises for teachers and state employees. Hall, who serves on the house finance committee, said one of the reasons the budget estimate was off this year is because revenues from the sales tax were down $33 million. He said one possibility for the decrease could be the inclement weather Tennessee’s had this year, but another could be the change in consumer’s shopping habits. “We’re seeing more people purchase things on the Internet and we’re not seeing the sales tax for that,” Hall said. Haynes said another reason for the shortfall is revenue from the franchise and excise tax was down approximately $240 million. Haynes said the legislature suspects companies have found a loophole around paying the franchise and excise tax. He said those loopholes will need to be addressed. Haynes said while the state could raise taxes to remedy the problem, the legislature wants to avoid that measure and has focused on making cuts instead. “Government is about prioritizing, and just as families need to balance a budget,

so does the state,” Haynes said. “The budget is very serious right now. We’ve got two options - we either make cuts or raise taxes. The will of the legislature right now is to cut.” Watch the entire panel discussion on the Chamber’s YouTube channel at www.

The Knoxville Chamber concluded its Legislative Briefing series with a panel discussion on the state budget. Pictured left to right: Alan Hill of AT&T, state Rep. Ryan Haynes, moderator Susan Richardson Williams, Chamber CEO/President Mike Edwards, state Rep. Steve Hall, and state Rep. Roger Kane.


K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 55

More than 500 people filled the grand ballroom of the Knoxville Marriott for the Knoxville Chamber’s Schmoozapalooza X. The luau-themed networking event, sponsored by Comcast Business and Cellular Sales, provided a casual atmosphere for people to have fun and interact with more than 70 exhibiting businesses. As the evening concluded, several door prizes were given away. Alex Davenport of AccuForce won a Nokia Lumia tablet, courtesy of Cellular Sales; Stacey Shook of Gage Talent Agency won a Beats Pill Bluetooth speaker courtesy of Comcast Business Class; and Ron Allsobrooks of The Tennessee Riverboat took home a Kindle Fire, courtesy of the Knoxville Chamber.

More than 500 people joined the Knoxville Chamber for its semi-annual networking event, Schmoozapalooza.

Andrew Holloway with Prestige Tuxedo models one of the company’s looks at Schmoozapalooza.

Sponsors Comcast Business offered a sweet treat to guests visiting their exhibitor’s booth.

Radio personality Phil Williams broadcasts his show on NewsTalk 98.7 from Schmoozapalooza X on at the Knoxville Marriott on March 25.

The Arrow Exterminators staff got into the luau spirit with their booth at Schmoozapalooza X.

Pellissippi State Community College was one of the 73 vendors that set up at Schmoozapalooza X.

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Contestants Selected for 2014 What’s the Big Idea?! Competition Twelve contestants will participate in the 2014 What’s the Big Idea?! business plan competition, presented by the Development Corporation of Knox County, the Knoxville Chamber, and Tech 2020. The Chamber received more than 20 applications for the high-energy competition, which gives hopeful entrepreneurs a chance to turn their business ideas into a reality. The contestants’ Big Ideas were chosen based on technical feasibility, ingenuity, growth potential, and viability of a sustainable, competitive advantage. “We’re pleased with the diverse group of ideas and applicants we received this year,” said Todd Napier, president and CEO of the Development Corporation of Knox County. “We look forward to helping them grow their ideas into business plans and giving them the tools to make their ideas a reality.” Now, the 12 contestants will participate in two “Idea Launch” seminars led by Shawn Carson of Tech 20/20 and local business leaders, which will help refine their ideas and fine-tune their pitches. The contestants will then convene on May 6 to give a five-minute pitch of their Big Idea to a panel of three coaches, who are recognized as successful, local entrepreneurs. Each coach will then select three contestants to be on their teams. The contestants will then duke it out in the Knock-Out Competitions on June 3, which pits three contestants against each other, one from each team, in three separate pitch rounds. A panel of five judges will identify one winner from each round, narrowing the group from nine to three. As a new element to this year’s competition, the six contestants not selected will be eligible for the People’s Choice Pitch competition held at the finale. The finale will be held on June 24 from 5-7:30 p.m. at Relix Theater, and will feature the three finalists and the People’s Choice Pitch winner. The finalists will then present their last pitches for a chance to win the Big Idea Launch Package – $10,000 startup cost reimbursement, office space, and complimentary business services.

International House Works, LLC, John W. Cook Construction company building and distributing simple homes, medical clinics, and Internet technology to developing countries and disaster relief areas.

FlowSink, Martin Wade Multi-use, portable sink continuously changes out dirty water with fresh and can be used in tasks like cleaning painting tools, mopping floors, camping, etc., Christopher Saah Web application that allows personal trainers to effortlessly create an ecommerce website where they can sell and suggest fitness products.

Gludi, Kyle McClain A digital support system for Type 2 diabetics that helps them track their progress and build a social network of supporters.

Vuture, Michael Crain User-friendly IOS application that captures and preserves user’s memories to be viewed in today or in the future.

Elder Tech, Theresa Maples Dedicated, patience technical experts assisting the elderly and technically challenged with computers and mobile devices., Adam Holdsworth Pacing device for runners based off the remote controlled car that provides a physical object for the athlete to follow., Jonnathan Owens Website dedicated to facilitate peer-to-peer, item-for-item trading for guitar-related music equipment.

Data Collection and Marketing Systems, Daniel Schuh System of data collection and marketing designed to facilitate small business growth through a new method of targeted advertising.

THIS YEAR’S FINALISTS ARE: HighRise Technology, Hollis Allen

Prime Medical Training, Andrew Randazzo

Technology company producing products that improve the entertainment experience through comfort and convenience.

Offers continuing education courses pertinent to the medical field, such as CPR, first aid, lifeguarding, etc.

Retailius, Casey Ash Point-of-sale software that allows small businesses to reach consumers more efficiently and effectively through the integration of selling channels.

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Area Students Compete in Regional Robotics Competition The 2014 Smoky Mountain Regional FIRST Robotics competition drew approximately 1,700 high school students from seven states to the Knoxville Convention Center in March. Fifty teams put their engineering skills to the test during the two-day event. This year’s challenge pitted two robots against each other in a high-tech ballgame. Seven teams from the Knox County area competed, including the L&N STEM Academy, Webb School, Knoxville Catholic, South Doyle High School, Farragut High School, and Halls High School. “Students who participate in this really have a life transforming experience,” said Pete Xiques, TN FIRST board member. “They learn engineering skills that some of the universities around here say they won’t learn until graduate school.” Several of the Knoxville area schools that competed took home awards. Hardin Valley Academy won the Industrial Safety Award, the Industrial Design Award, and one of their mentors, Lonnie Love, won the Woodie Flowers Mentoring Award. Knoxville Catholic High School won the Excellence in Engineering Award, and Halls High School won the Creativity Award. Xiques explained a lot of the event’s corporate sponsors are already interested in the student competitors because they already have skills they want to see in the workplace. In addition to engineering and teambuilding skills, Xiques said the competition also teaches important business lessons. “Teams are organized almost like a corporation,” he said. “They not only have an engineering lead or drive train lead, but they have business operations, they have fundraising and they have spokespersons for the team. Each person on the team has assigned roles and responsibilities. So they’re not only learning math, science, engineering and computer skills, but they learn business skills.” Watch a video of the competition on the Chamber’s YouTube channel at www.


MAY 13 Business After Hours

5 – 7 p.m. | Cherokee Innovation Farm Campus (Alcoa Hwy just across the TN River) Sponsored by:

MAY 15 Bright Ideas Seminar: The Numbers Game – Using Metrics to Make Informed Business Decisions Presented by Adam Slack of Two Roads | 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square $25 for members $35 for non-members (boxed lunch included)

MAY 20 New Member Orientation 4 – 6 p.m. | Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square Sponsored by:

JUNE 3 Innovation Valley Young Professionals BBQ 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. | Outdoor Knoxville Patio (located on Volunteer Landing next to Ruth’s Chris) Sponsored by:

JUNE 6 Business After Hours 5 – 7 p.m. | Caris Healthcare • 10651 Coward Mill Rd., 37931 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 May 2014  
Commerce May 2014  

The official newsletter of the Knoxville Chamber.