Page 1

INSIDE: U.S. Sen. Bob Corker Luncheon Recap pg. 56 + Monthly Economic Indicators pg. 54

MEMBERSHIP MATTERS TOP ACHIEVERS 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.











NEW MEMBERS / NEW PREMIER PARTNERS GOLD PREMIER PARTNER Verizon (865) 719-9436 Telecommunications

BRONZE PREMIER PARTNERS Harrison (865) 983-3100 Construction & Contractors: Highway Construction Michael Brady Inc. (865) 584-0999 Architectural & Engineering Services: Architects Synergy Business Environments (865) 809-8480 Office Equipment, Supplies, & Services Shopping: Furniture



Tennessee National (865) 408-9992 Real Estate: Waterfront Communities Sports & Recreation:Golf, Watersports Real Estate:Residential

Echo Ridge Independent Retirement Living (865) 769-0111 Social Services: Senior Services Enroll Health (865) 243-3900 Insurance

Wal-Mart Store #1319 (865) 922-6031 Shopping: Discount Stores

Grapevine Solutions (865) 670-1001 Telecommunications

811 East Downtown (865) 253-7349 Apartments Allstate - Regal Agency (865) 693-0750\ Insurance Brenz Pizza Co. (865) 525-2882 Event Planning, Catering, & Venues: Catering Compass International Resources (888) 376-1082 Business & Professional Services

Lauderdale Design Group (865) 249-7713 Residential Services: Interior Design Office Equipment, Supplies, & Services: Commercial Interior Design Lisa Hall Tight Ship Business Coaching (865) 308-0003 Business & Professional Services: Business Advisors & Consultants

Home2Suites by Hilton (865) 973-9444 Hotels & Lodging

Longhorn Steakhouse (865) 693-8700 Restaurants

Honest 1 Auto (865) 288-7922 Automotive Sales, Parts, & Service

Max Air Trampoline Park, LLC (865) 362-5039 Attractions & Tourism

Impact Dental Seminars (865) 333-1611 Healthcare Providers & Services: Dentists

Nothing Bundt Cakes (865) 745-0800 Restaurants: Sweet Treats & Bakeries










K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 48

Public Relations Society of America Volunteer Chapter (865) 771-1553 Business & Professional Services Red Door Photography (865) 446-2289 Photography Salon Yeager (865) 281-3241 Personal Services: Salons & Spas Spectra Environmental Group (865) 970-0005 Environmental Services & Equipment Total Property Management (865) 471-5151 Building & Grounds Maintenance Turner Homes, LLC (865) 777-1700 Construction & Contractors: Residential Woody Creek Realty, LLC (865) 299-5199 Real Estate: Residential

Knoxville Chamber to Toast Best of Business at Pinnacle Awards Gala On May 8, the Knoxville Chamber will shine the spotlight on the business community at the 11th annual Pinnacle Business Awards gala. The elegant affair, presented by FSGBank, is expected to draw more than 550 businesspeople to the Knoxville Convention Center to honor this year’s finalists and winners. Twenty-four finalists will be vying for eight coveted Pinnacle awards. The Chamber received more than 180 nominations for the Pinnacle Awards. The Chamber’s board of directors was tasked with reviewing and scoring nearly 100 applications to determine the finalists and eventual winners. “We are proud that the Pinnacle Awards have had such a successful tenure in our business community,” said Mike Edwards, Chamber president and CEO. “From the beginning, the Chamber wanted the awards to shine the spotlight on the region’s most successful businesses and businesspeople. Not only have we been successful in doing that, the Pinnacle Awards are now one of the most prestigious honors a local business or businessperson can receive.”

2015 FINALISTS: The Small Business Excellence Award, sponsored by Sword & Shield, honors an East Tennessee small business that has 50 employees or less companywide, the winner will demonstrate the ability to overcome obstacles as well as a historical index of growth in revenues and workforce.

FINALISTS All Occasion Catering, LLC — A premier

provider of various catering services for events of all types and size in the Knoxville area. Expoquip, Inc. — A worldwide distributor of quality parts and components for the construction and mining industries. Mac’s Pharmacy — A locally owned, independent pharmacy that is committed to improving the health of its customers.

The Woman-Owned Business Excellence Award, sponsored by Management Solutions, LLC, is given to an outstanding East Tennessee womanowned business. Companies must be at least 51 percent owned by one or more women, and one or more women must control daily management operations.

FINALISTS Cannon & Cannon, Inc. — A full-service consulting engineering and field surveying firm that services communities throughout the southeastern U.S. Moxley Carmichael — A premier public and media relations firm that provides a variety of communications and creative services to its clients. Performance Training, Inc. — Performance Training, Inc. (PTI) — A leading health and fitness company dedicated to enhancing not only the performance ability of amateur and professional athletes, but also dedicated to corporate wellness and making personal lifestyle changes. PTI provides result-driven program management, education and consulting as well as wellness programs to corporations and communities locally and in 5 different states.

The Minority-Owned Business Excellence Award, sponsored by Covenant Health, recognizes companies that have achieved notable growth and are at least 51 percent owned by an ethnic minority

FINALISTS B&B Lawn Services, LLC — A comprehensive lawn care company that provides lawn restoration, mowing, landscaping, among other services. Marc Nelson Denim — A designer clothing and lifestyle brand that specializes in producing small-batch, limited designs. Paramount Hospitality Management Company — A hospitality company that owns and operates six hotels under the Hilton and Marriott brands, including the new Hilton Garden Inn on Cumberland Avenue.

The Young Entrepreneur Award, FSGBank, acknowledges the importance of the entrepreneurial spirit, this award recognizes young professionals, 40 years of age or younger as of May 8, 2015, who started or are at risk in ownership of a non-franchise business in East Tennessee. The winner will have overcome obstacles and moved their business from early to growth to some maturity. sponsored by

FINALISTS Eric Barton, president and CEO of Vanquish Worldwide — Barton started his company in 2007 as a government contracting

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“Pinnacle” continued on pg. 50

“Pinnacle” continued from pg. 49 provider. Today, in addition to handling government contracts, Vanquish Worldwide has expanded into a U.S. transportation and logistics business. Mike Brown, president and CEO of M&M Productions USA — At the age 13, Brown started his company as a DJ business. Since 1988, the company has transformed into a full-service event, broadcast, and video production company. Bradford Jones, operations director of Bradford Catered Events — Jones led the rebranding and repositioning of his father’s catering company, Abner’s Attic. The company specializes in social events and weddings.

The Impact Award, sponsored by Publix Super Markets, is awarded to a non-charitable, East Tennessee business that is committed to making the region a better place to live through the development and support of a community project or program. The recipient should demonstrate the ability to improve community conditions that significantly impact the region. FINALISTS Gerdau — Located in the Lonsdale community, the steel mill is committed to improving the neighborhood and community through various outreach programs. This includes Gerdau’s creation of the Lonsdale Community Advisory Committee, which seeks to address and impact issues like drugs, crime, neighborhood cleanup, and environmental concerns. Prestige Cleaners Inc. / Prestige Tuxedo — For 30 years, Prestige Cleaners has been dedicated to bettering Knox County through its participation in initiatives like Project Classroom and Coats for the Cold. In 2007, owner and president Eddie Mannis created HonorAir-Knoxville, which has flown more than 2,200 World War II and Korean War veterans of East Tennessee to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials built in their honor. SunTrust Bank — In partnership with the SunTrust Foundation, the financial institution has contributed more than $300,000 for local and national programs in Knoxville. SunTrust teammates also completed more than 6,000 volunteer hours in the region, with 3,000 of those logged in Knoxville.

The Innovator Award, sponsored by UT-Battelle, is presented to an East Tennessee business that has developed a new technology, innovative product or service, or has applied a business system or service in an innovative way. FINALISTS 1st Choice Franchise Concepts — A unique franchise consulting company that offers a comprehensive system that addresses all aspects of a franchisor’s business, including mission and vision; branding; marketing programs; initial training programs; and support programs. Magnum Venus Products — A premier producer of composite application equipment. MVP serves a variety of industries such as automotive, aerospace, and marine. In addition to composite application, the company also supports the foam and polyurethane industries.

Proton Power, Inc. — A sustainable energy company, which has developed a technology to convert biomass material into a hydrogen-rich gas stream, which is then used to create heat, electricity, and liquid fuels. 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.

Mid-size Company, sponsored by Coulter & Justusm, P.C. FINALISTS Harper Auto Square — The auto dealer group boasts luxury brands like Audi, Porsche, Jaguar, Infiniti, and Maserati, as well as more moderate brands like Volkswagen and FIAT. The dealership has 190 employees and had a record sales year in 2014. Johnson & Galyon, Inc. — Offering an array of construction services, the company works on a variety of projects ranging from residential to multi-million dollar commercial projects. Johnson & Galyon, Inc. has 102 local employees. Threds, Inc. — Through an expansive product line as well as creative and fulfillment services, the company helps businesses expand their brand reach through promotional products. The company currently has 70 staff members and works with national brands like McAlister’s Deli and Mercury Marine. Last year alone, Threds printed more than 1 million t-shirts, and shipped 30,000 packages to more than 40 countries.

Large Company, sponsored by ARG Financial Staffing FINALISTS Blackberry Farm — Located In Walland, Tenn., the company offers luxurious accommodations and world-class dining in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. Blackberry Farm employs 385 staff members and is continuing invest in its facilities with several multi-million dollar construction projects that are currently underway and in the works. Radio Systems Corporation — As the producer of Invisible Fence, SportDOG, and PetSafe products, Radio Systems has long been committed to making the lives of pets and their owners happier. The company has 350 local associates at its West Knoxville headquarters, as well has 600 worldwide. TeamHealth Holdings, Inc — The company is one of the largest suppliers of outsourced healthcare professional staffing and administrative services to hospitals and other healthcare providers in the US. The company’s more than 13,000 affiliated physicians provided care for more than 16 million patients per year in 990 hospitals nationwide.

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Recent Announcements Bring New Opportunities to Innovation Valley Four recent economic development announcements have brought an influx of new job and capital investment growth to the Innovation Valley. Announcements made in March included three new corporate recruits and one existing industry expansion, totaling nearly 1,000 new jobs and $327.4 million in investments for the region. Canadian-based CVMR plans to relocate its global headquarters to Roane County, while Hicks Plastics and Total Quality Logistics are bringing new operations to the City of Knoxville. Additionally, Mesa Associates, Inc. is expanding its facility on Murdock Drive. “We are so excited to welcome these companies to Innovation Valley,” said Rhonda Rice, executive administrator for Innovation Valley. “We continue to see growth from all of our target recruitment sectors as businesses from around the world have begun to take notice of our region’s greatest assets and favorable business climate, and we could not be more pleased. These announcements prove our region offers all of the key attributes needed to thrive.” The month was headlined by an announcement from CVMR that it would be transferring all of its current operations from Toronto to a manufacturing facility in Oak Ridge. CVMR is investing $313 million to establish this facility, resulting in 630 new jobs for Innovation Valley. The new CVMR USA will refine and manufacture high-value metals and metal products directly from raw ore, scrap metals, concentrates, and mattes. “A combination of superior local resources, an ability to leverage cuttingedge knowledge, and emerging demand for high-performance products makes East Tennessee the place for the CVMR headquarters, manufacturing, and production. This environment supports investment and further development of CVMR technologies” said Michael Hargett, president of CVMR USA. Hicks Plastics followed suit and announced it too would be opening a new manufacturing facility in Knoxville in an effort to increase supplier efficiency. With a $10.4 million investment and 202 new jobs, Hicks Plastics will produce automotive lighting components, specializing in molded and vacuum metalized lighting components for various GM vehicles, including the Chevrolet Cruze and Chevrolet Malibu.

The company is expanding its manufacturing operations from Michigan to Knoxville in order to be closer to SL Tennessee, located in Clinton, Tenn. which manufacturers and produces head lamps and tail lamps for the automotive market. CVMR and Hicks Plastics are each part of Innovation Valley’s target recruitment cluster of advanced technology and manufacturing. Total Quality Logistics officials also announced plans to expand operations by opening a new location in Innovation Valley. The company will invest $1 million to open a sales office in downtown Knoxville to meet the needs of its expanding client-base, creating at least 100 new jobs over the next five years. This will be the company’s second location in Tennessee. “We are extremely pleased to open a second location in Tennessee,” said Kerry Byrne, president of TQL. “We anticipate big things from this office. Its location at the foot of the Great Smokey Mountains, combined with its highway accessibility and local talent pool, make it a perfect fit for our needs.” In late March officials at Mesa Associates, Inc. announced plans to expand operations in Innovation Valley. With a $3 million capital investment, this expansion will double the size of its current operations in Knox County, and add 65 to 85 high-wage technical jobs to the region. Mesa is a woman- and minority-owned full service engineering, procurement, and construction management firm with several locations throughout the southeast. Officials celebrated the expansion with a groundbreaking ceremony at its West Knoxville location. “Innovation Valley continues to build momentum with the four latest economic development announcements,” said Doug Lawyer, vice president of economic development for the Knoxville Chamber. “We had an exceptional start to 2015 and feel we are strongly positioned for continued advancement with our current pipeline of projects. Tackling economic development from the regional level is proven sustainable, and we will continue to work as a region to create more jobs, capital investments, and higher wages to Innovation Valley. ” Kayla Witt, marketing coordinator for the Knoxville Chamber, contributed this article.

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Corker Talks Domestic, Foreign Policy at Chamber Luncheon On April 8, more than 250 businesspeople filled the ballroom of the Crowne Plaza to hear U.S. Sen. Bob Corker speak at the Knoxville Chamber’s Political Insight Luncheon, sponsored by FSGBank. During the luncheon, Corker gave attendees a look into several foreign policy and domestic issues he’s been working on in Washington, D.C. Corker, who serves on the Budget Committee, discussed the House and Senate recently passing a budget. This was only the second time he had seen this occur in the eight years and three months he’s served as Tennessee’s junior senator. U.S. Sen. Bob Corker addresses more than 250 businesspeople at “The budget is not something that the Knoxville Chamber’s Political solves our long-term problems. It mostly Insight Luncheon on April 8. establishes next year’s spending levels on the domestic side. Even though a budget passes on a partisan basis, the real work is actually solving our fiscal issues, which gets into programs like Medicare,” Corker said. “I still believe our greatest threat to our nation is our inability to deal with these fiscal issues. They’ve got to be solved in a bipartisan way, and I think we’re making some chip shots in that direction.” As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker has worked closely to secure a nuclear deal with Iran. So closely that Corker received a call from President Barack Obama to update him on the negotiation process just before he took to the stage at the luncheon.

FSGBank was the event sponsor for the Chamber’s Political Insight Luncheon. Left to right: Mike Kramer with FSG; Mike Edwards, Chamber president and CEO; Corker; Chamber Chairman Patrick Birmingham; and Robert Baird, FSGBank Knoxville market executive.

“A lot of people don’t realize Iran has one of the most sophisticated ballistic missile programs in the world,” Corker said. “If they were able to get the material they would have the ability to accurately deliver a nuclear weapon.” Corker said the negotiations aren’t solely aimed at dismantling Iran’s nuclear program as they have been in the past. His proposal focuses more on controlling its proliferation. If Iran were to comply with a deal of this nature, Congress could consider lifting sanctions against the country. To view Corker’s entire discussion, visit the Chamber’s YouTube channel.

Sponsored by:

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 52


Since 1869, the Knoxville Chamber has been the leading voice for business in our region. Each of these businesses are celebrating milestone anniversaries as Chamber members during the month of May. Thank you for your commitment to the Chamber and the community! 31+ YEARS


White Realty and Service Corporation


Uster Technologies, Inc.


Broadway Electric Service Corporation


March of Dimes


Regal Entertainment Group


Smith & Hammaker



Rogers Group, Inc.


Tennessee Roofing Corporation


American Red Cross of the Tennessee

Coldwell Banker Wallace & Wallace,

Mountain Valley

Realtors: Farragut Office


Knoxville Beverage Co., Inc.


Boys & Girls Clubs of The Tennessee Valley


Covenant Health


Burkhart Enterprises, Inc.


Tennova Physician Services


Children’s Center of Knoxville, Inc.


Modern Supply Company


Friedman’s Appliances


15-19 YEARS

Webb School of Knoxville


Knoxville Museum of Art


AMEC Earth & Environmental, Inc.


Arby’s Roast Beef Restaurant


Knoxville’s Community Development Corp.




Northwestern Mutual


Johnstone Supply Co.



Securities Service Network, Inc.


Marketing Dimensions



Stanley Steemer of East Tennessee, LLC


Hoya Vision Care - Knoxville


Tate’s School & Tate’s Day Camp


Hollow & Company, LLC


William E. Pinkston, CPA


Office Depot


Associated General Contractors of Tennessee/Knoxville Branch D & V Distributing Company Cindy Doyle Agency/State Farm Insurance Company



Tennessee Small Business

Commercial Realty Company


Asset Planning Corporation


Ayres & Parkey


25 – 30 YEARS

Rural/Metro Corporation


Humana 1986

Wood Properties, Inc.


LubriCorp, LLC


Partners Development


Northeast Knox Utility District



ORNL Federal Credit Union - West Knoxville


10 – 14 YEARS

Vaughn & Melton Consulting Engineers, Inc.


Summit Medical Group, PLLC


Doyle Webb-Realty Executives

Appalachian Claims Service


Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.


Novinger, Ball and Zivi, PC


Prestige Cleaners, Inc.


Chandler’s Deli, LLC


West Side Honda


Red Chair Architects


I & I Sling, Inc.


Bible Harris Smith, P.C.


TeamHealth 1988

Select Ticket Service


East Tennessee Children’s Hospital


Thompson Cancer Survival Center


Nucsafe Inc.


Thermocopy of Tennessee, Inc.


Ameriplan Benefit Corporation


Corporate Communications



Holston Gases, Inc.


Resource Advisory Services



Bandit Lites, Inc.


BNI- Business Network International


River Sports Outfitters, Inc.


Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce


Rubber Plus, Inc.

Brown, Jake & McDaniel, CPA’s Knox Chapman Utility District Better Business Bureau of Greater East Tennessee



Wimberly Lawson Wright Daves

Development Center


Cannon & Cannon, Inc.


NetGain Mobile Diagnostics


and Associates


EPRI 2003

Helen Ross McNabb Center, Inc.



Cortese Tree Specialists, Inc.


Knoxville Zoological Gardens


Farragut/West Knox Chamber of Commerce

& Jones, PLLC




L. G. Balfour Company


Frontier Communications


InsBank 2003

Senior Citizens Home Assistance Services


Knox Area Rescue Ministries


Premier Transportation, LLC

Sunshine Industries/The Arc Knox County


Presbyterian Homes of Tennessee, Inc.


GemStore 2003

West Knox Utility District


Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. -


Toyota/Lexus of Knoxville


All Occasion Catering, LLC

2004 2004

20 – 24 YEARS

Bob’s Package Store, Inc.


Mullins Warehouse Park/1605 Rentals, Inc.


Fulghum, MacIndoe & Associates, Inc.

Brandon’s Awards & Engraving


Michael Brady Inc.


Quantum Environmental & Engineering



O’Connor Communications


Creative Structures, Inc.


Common Grounds/Landscape

Kitchen Sales, Inc. McGaha Electric Company, Inc.

1984 1984

Steel Plate Fabricators/Knoxville Sheet Metal Works, Inc.


Connor Concepts, Inc.


Jos. A. Bank Clothiers



The Development Corporation


Builders Exchange of Tennessee, Inc.

of Knox County

The Arts and Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville

Management, Inc.


Jewelry Television


East TN Chapter

1992 1992

K N O X V I L L E C H A M B E R | 53


Services, LLC


U.S. Bank


Tillman Companies, LLC



(March 2015)

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


HOUSING MARKET % Change % Change Feb. ’15- March ’14March ‘15 March ‘15

Resident Labor Force

March 2015

Feb. 2015

March 2014

Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee U.S.

226,390 403,030 3,042,100 156,318,000

225,730 401,870 3,022,500 156,213,000

223,657 398,782 3,026,027 155,627,000

0.3 0.3 0.6 0.1

1.2 1.1 0.5 0.4

380,300 2,835,400

379,300 2,821,700

372,000 2,787,400

0.3 0.5

2.2 1.7

11,680 23,940 197,930

12,830 25,970 212,560

13,910 28,380 236,650

-9.0 -7.8 -6.9

-16.0 -15.6 -16.4

4.7 5.4 5.9 5.6

5.1 5.8 6.4 5.8

5.5 6.3 6.9 6.8

-0.4 -0.4 -0.5 -0.2

-0.8 -0.9 -1.0 -1.2

Non-Ag Employment Knoxville MSA Tennessee

Residential Closings Residential Inventory Median Residential Price

March 2015 1,227 9,492 $152,500

Unemployment Rates Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee U.S.

Sources: Tennessee Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development/U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


% Change March ’13March ‘15 -2.0 -1.6

March ’14-‘15

Feb. ’14-‘15

March ’13-‘14

-0.6 -0.1

-0.5 0.0

1.4 1.5

-0.1 -0.1

% Change March ’14March ‘15

*Southeast Region Avg. U.S. Avg. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

15.6 -7.9 8.9

Knoxville (City)

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

Feb. 2015* 15 15 0

Feb. 2014 38 19 19

% Change Feb. ’14Feb. ‘15 -60.5 -21.1 -100.0

Knox Co.

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

92 92 0

124 105 19

-25.8 -12.4 -100.0

Knoxville MSA

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

130 130 0

146 127 19

-11.0 2.4 -100.0


Total Single-Family Multi-Family

1,459 1,154 305

1,880 1,225 655

-22.4 -5.8 -53.4

*All 2015 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


March 2015

Feb. 2015

March 2014

% Change Feb. ’15March ‘15

Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee

42,404,070 63,951,092 550,199,153

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

42,676,482 65,618,266 568,198,995

-4.4 -4.3 -1.6

-0.6 -2.5 -3.2

11,461,938 17,871,876

12,301,121 18,887,509

11,699,093 18,405,679

-6.8 -5.4

-2.0 -2.9


Passengers Cargo

Feb. 2015 101,588 5,924,011

Jan. 2015 116,829 6,088,324

Feb. 2014 109,718 5,995,517

% Change Jan. ’15Feb. ‘1513.0 -2.7

% Change Feb. ’14Feb. ‘15 -7.4 -1.2

Source: Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority

Local Sales Tax Knox Co. Knoxville MSA

1,061 10,304 $140,000


CONSUMER PRICE INDEX (CPI) - ALL ITEMS % Change Feb. ’14March ‘15

March 2014

% Change

March ’14March ‘15

Source: Knoxville Area Association of Realtors

Available Labor Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee

Feb. 2015 890 9,149 $149,900

% Change Feb. ’15March ‘15 37.9 3.7 1.7

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

March 2015

Feb. 2015

445,583 27,305 20,960 8,370 55,659 52,349 8,605 35,219 53,552 26,092 9,963 98,867 41,789

390,684 20,505 18,155 8,187 51,812 46,245 7,615 30,732 48,407 23,982 8,889 82,042 38,240

438,560 25,155 20,289 8,602 54,416 48,997 8,264 45,592 53,796 24,634 9,377 93,712 39,206

% Change Feb. ’15March ‘15 14.1 33.2 15.5 2.2 7.4 13.2 13.0 14.6 10.6 8.8 12.1 20.5 9.3





March 2014

% Change

March ’14March ‘15 1.6 8.5 3.3 -2.7 2.3 6.8 4.1 -22.8 -0.5 5.9 6.2 5.5 6.6 5.1

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

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

Knoxville Chamber Welcomes Verizon Wireless as Official Wireless Sponsor The Knoxville Chamber is pleased to have Verizon Wireless onboard as its official wireless sponsor. As the leading wireless carrier in the industry, Verizon will provide the Chamber with the technology it needs to better serve the business community. “We are so pleased to be partnered with Verizon,” said Mark Field, senior vice president of membership. “By aligning ourselves with such a successful national company, we’re able to provide our members with cutting-edge technology and information to help their businesses become more technically savvy.” Dustin Ledford, Verizon’s business sales manager for East Tennessee, is leading the Verizon Wireless Business team in its partnership with the Chamber. “We see this sponsorship as a win-win, because not only will we benefit from the market, advertising, and the exposure standpoint, but we are now growing a long-term business relationship,” Ledford said. In addition to wireless devices, the Verizon Wireless Business team will also provide free consulting from a business solutions aspect to the Chamber. “We will consistently keep the Chamber updated with new solutions and industry trends,” Ledford said. “This way, the Chamber has a high-level understanding of emerging technology and can better assist its current, new, and potential members.”


M&M Productions USA In 1988, Mike Brown and his friend Mark Farris started M&M Productions USA. What began as two 13-year-olds deejaying parties for their friends, is now a successful full-service event, broadcast, and video production company. Brown said the combination of experienced professionals and cutting edge technology professionals positions M&M Productions as an industry leader. “The company provides turnkey solutions, including lighting, stage design, audiovisual services, digital signs, scripting, and event coordination,” Brown said. “(We) serve as a one-stop-shop for our clients.” M&M Productions has a long list of prominent local and national clients. The company has worked with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Knoxville Convention Center, Scripps Networks Interactive,ESPN3, White House Communications, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. “It’s been a fun, yet wild ride, to grow the business from a DJ service for friends’ birthday parties to a nationally recognized company serving highprofile entertainment, political, and corporate clients,” Brown said. As founder and owner, Brown is very engaged in every aspect of the company and is actively planning its future. One of the key elements in M&M Productions’ future will be utilizing innovative technology. “The digital age provides the team with products that are smaller and more energy efficient, while also offering higher-quality performance,” Brown said. “M&M Productions was among the first to use high definition cameras and projectors, LED Lighting and digital wireless to livestream events.” From a process standpoint, Brown recognized early on that by offering a turnkey process, the company could fill a void in the market. “Clients appreciate that they can come to the team with no more than an idea for an event, and M&M Productions can build it,” Brown said. “The company offers clients the ability to be engaged as much or as little as they would like, and that was intentional from the beginning.” Last year, the company received national recognition for its work by becoming a bronze winner of the 35th annual Telly Awards for its production of “The Stars of Texas DECA” promotional video. The video stood out from nearly 12,000 submissions from 50 states and numerous countries to win the award. “The award establishes M&M Productions as a worldwide industry leader in video production,” Brown said.

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Chamber’s Legislative Briefings Give Insight into 109th General Assembly The Knoxville Chamber hosted a two-part Legislative Briefing series, spon“Currently for business owners, when you get a credit card machine you sored by AT&T, on March 27 and April 17. don’t know how much you are going to pay for it over the months,” Smith said. The first briefing on March 27 focused on education in Tennessee, a prima“The legislation we passed requires that this information be in the language of ry issue on the Chamber’s legislative agenda this year. It featured state Reps. the contract, so the business owner knows on the front end what they’re getting Eddie Smith, Roger in to and what it’s going Kane, and Bill Dunn, to take to get out of it.” and was moderated Massey believes that by Susan Richardson the passage of her bill Williams, chairwoman regarding the use of of the Chamber’s cannabis oil to aid those government relations with intractable epilepsy committee. and severe seizures Topics for discuswas the most significant sion included state for her this session. standards, school She said 70 percent of vouchers, and physithose who take this oil cal education. Kane have noticed significant discussed his “Tom reduction in the amount Cronan Physical of seizures they experiEducation Act,” which ence. would extend physical “Intractable seizures activity in elementary mean that they have tried and secondary schools everything and nothing is to 90 minutes per working,” said Massey. week with an instruc“This bill will save lives tor. He advocated and will improve the for its importance quality of the lives these as Tennessee leads people have. This bill Pictured left to right: Alan Hill of AT&T; Susan Richardson Williams, chairman of the Knoxville Chamber’s governthe nation in childhood was important to me.” ment relations committee; state Rep. Eddie Smith; state Sens. Becky Duncan Massey and Richard Briggs; Chamdiabetes and obesity. Insure Tennessee was ber Chairman Patrick Birmingham; and Chamber CEO and President Mike Edwards. “I was really surprised the topic of discussion that everything has been for Briggs, who advoabout testing and getting more information into the students’ heads, but cated for its importance even after its failure in the legislature. He believes that we’ve relegated some of the other things to a very small portion of the school this bill was important for business owners in regard to the cost of employee day,” Kane said. “P.E. is down to 45 minutes a week, but we need more wellhealth insurance, as well as everyday people who cannot get the healthcare rounded children. So, basically this bill just doubles it.” they require. Dunn discussed school vouchers and House Bill 1049, which he intro“The Insure Tennessee program that Gov. Bill Haslam proposed was not duced to establish a scholarship program for eligible students enrolled in a going to cost the taxpayers a cent. The cost was going to be picked up by the public school in the bottom 5 percent of schools in overall achievement to hospitals,” Briggs said. “If we bring it back next year, we’ll have to persuade the attend participating private K-12 schools. lawmakers that this is important.” “You’ve got to give these students a chance,” Dunn said. “So, to me, if you This legislative briefing series was an important way for legislators to discuss can help some child get something better it makes a difference.” these significant issues with the Knoxville community while providing means of The second briefing on April 17 recapped what the legislators worked facilitating a connection between lawmakers and their constituents. on for the first half of the 109 General Assembly. The discussion featured “The legislative briefings are an important opportunity to hear from our state state Rep. Eddie Smith and state Sens. Becky Duncan Massey and Richard legislators about the issues that impact not only our everyday lives, but our busiBriggs, and was also moderated by Williams. nesses as well,” said Williams. “It also gives our Chamber members an opporEach legislator discussed their specific bills they found particularly intertunity to have dialogue with their representatives one on one without having to esting or significant. Smith said that his bill, which requires more specific go to Nashville to be heard. We are so fortunate to be represented by dedicated information to be written in contracts between business owners and payment men and women who are also thoughtful and willing to engage with us.” processors, is one that affects many people. Chamber intern Jessica Karsten contributed this article.

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All Occasions Party Rentals’ Turner Elected American Rental Association Board President Terry Turner, president of All Occasions Party Rental, has been elected the 53rd president of the board of directors for the American Rental Association. With more than 20 years in the events industry, Turner will spend the next two years guiding the ARA in its mission of promoting the success of members and advancing the growth of the equipment rental industry. In February, Turner, who has been involved with the ARA for the past five years, was inducted into his term as board president at The Rental Show in New Orleans by Peyton Manning. “(With) having a Tennessee boy being ‘inaugurated,’ we thought it was appropriate to try to have Manning as our keynote speaker,” Turner said. “He did a tremen-

dous job and really related to our industry. He spoke about leadership and hard work mostly. Keys to our industry.” Turner, who also serves on the Knoxville Chamber’s marketing committee, said the networking aspect of this position has already proved invaluable. “I have been fortunate to meet many business owners all across the country that do what I do,” he said. “The education from that alone has been priceless. Plus, the continued friendships that you create will be lifelong. Also, with my absence from the business here in Knoxville, it has allowed my team to step up and make decisions and run the company while I serve. It will make our team much stronger in the long run.”

Tennessee Reconnect Giving Adults Second Chance at Higher Education

Young Entrepreneurs Academy Seeking Motivated Students for Inaugural Class

Gov. Bill Haslam’s new Tennessee Reconnect program is giving adults in the state a chance to pursue a postsecondary education free of cost. Tennessee Reconnect helps adults, 27 or older, enter higher education so they can gain new skills and advance in the workplace by obtaining an associates degree or certificate from one of the 27 Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT). “Our TCAT’s have an 80 percent graduation rate and an 85 percent job placement rate. To reach our Drive to 55 goals, we know we have to reach adults in Tennessee without a credential and get them back into higher education,” Haslam said in a press release. “The state’s ability to attract and retain business is tied directly to the quality of our workforce, and across our 27 technical colleges, students are gaining the necessary skills to succeed and go on to higher paying jobs and better lives.” Two years ago, Haslam launched the Drive to 55, which strives to bring the percentage of Tennesseans with college degrees or certifications to 55 percent by the year 2025. It’s projected by 2025 that 55 percent of jobs in Tennessee will require a degree or certificate. In order to reach this goal, the state needs an additional 494,000 degrees or certifications, particularly in programs provided at TCAT and community colleges. Programs like Tennessee Reconnect and the Tennessee Promise -- which gives graduating high school students two years of tuition-free community college or technical school -- aim to have a significant impact on that gap. “Haslam continues to demonstrate his leadership by investing in the people of Tennessee. Reconnect Tennessee is another opportunity for those who need to develop new skills to re-enter or advance in the workplace,” said Rhonda Rice, executive vice president for the Knoxville Chamber. “Providing tuition-free college to eligible adults who then have a sense of personal accomplishment and success is yet another way to continue to improve the economy in our region.” The deadline to apply for the Tennessee Reconnect grant is May 15. For more information or to submit your application, visit

Knoxville’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is seeking dedicated middle and high school students for its inaugural class, which is set to launch this October. YEA! is a year-long program that teaches students how to develop and run their own businesses, while giving them the opportunity to hear from local entrepreneurs and grow more confident in their ideas and abilities. The students will brainstorm business ideas, develop a business plan, pitch their plan to potential investors, and actually launch their own businesses. Classes for the program will meet every Tuesday evening for three hours at the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee. The cost is $395 for 30 weeks of classes with the opportunity for scholarships based on financial need and merit. Students will be taught by an instructor with the opportunity to also hear from guest lecturers, successful entrepreneurs, and business mentors. Recently introduced to the Knoxville community, the program is recruiting students in grades 6-12 to fill its inaugural class. These students should be responsible and creative with the ability to communicate well and demonstrate a commitment to their community and family. “While the program doesn’t officially launch until October, we are busy recruiting students now,” said Lori Fuller, vice president of marketing and events at the Knoxville Chamber. “We’d love to have our class of 24 students identified by mid-June, but we will continue to accept applications until the class is at capacity.” Knox County Schools have started the recruiting process in middle and high schools with principals, counselors, and business teachers nominating some of their most innovative and goal-oriented students. “We’ve just begun accepting applications and already have two impressive submissions,” said Fuller. “If they are representative of the young entrepreneurs in our community, we are going to have an outstanding program.” To apply for YEA!, students must fill out the application form, complete the essay and short answer questions, and submit their most recent transcript. They must also submit a letter of recommendation from their religious or community leader, teacher, or guidance counselor. After this process, the student will be invited for a personal interview with a YEA! Student Selection Committee member. The application and interview process will occur on a rolling basis. The application deadline for early selection is May 15. To apply, nominate a student, or learn more about the program visit or call 865-6374550. Chamber intern Jessica Karsten contributed this article.

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MAY 8 Pinnacle Business Awards Gala, presented by FSGBank

6 p.m. Reception & Silent Auction, sponsored by Comcast Business 8 p.m. Dinner & Awards Knoxville Convention Center $110 for Chamber Members; $140 for Non-Members

Presented by:

MAY 12 New Member Orientation 4 – 6 p.m. • Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square

Sponsored by:

MAY 19 Bright Ideas Seminar: “Fundraising 4.0” 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. • Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square $25 for Chamber Members; $35 for Non-Members

Sponsored by:

MAY 20 Employee Engagement Seminar: Creating a Culture that Engages and Retains Millenials presented by Dale Carnegie 8 – 10 a.m. • Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square $25 for Chamber Members; $35 for Non-Members

Sponsored by:

MAY 21 Business After Hours at Modern Supply 5 – 7 p.m. • 525 Lovell Road, 37932 (lbehind Harley Davidson)

Sponsored by:

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 2015  
Commerce - May 2015  

The official newsletter of the Knoxville Chamber.