Page 1

INSIDE: Q&A with Randy Boyd pg. 71 + Monthly Economic Indicators pg. 74

MEMBERSHIP MATTERS RIBBON CUTTINGS Farmers Mutual of Tennessee celebrated the grand opening of its new Knoxville location at 837 North Hall of Fame Drive along with its 100 year anniversary. Gordo Watson with Farmers Mutual is pictured center cutting the ribbon and is joined by Farmers Mutual board members and directors, State Senator Becky Massey, State Representative Bill Dunn, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, and Knoxville Chamber Ambassadors.

CONNECT Top Achievers are recognized for their countless volunteer hours and dedication to the Ambassador Program’s mission of serving as an active volunteer extension of the Knoxville Chamber to cultivate, promote, and maintain positive relationships between the Knoxville Chamber, its members, and the community.

with the





The Creel Group of Keller Williams Knoxville Premier Properties and TJ Development broke ground and had a ribbon cutting celebration for their new development at The Villas at Anchor Park on Turkey Creek Road. Johnnie Creel is pictured center and is joined by Todd Johnson with TJ Development in cutting the ribbon. Friends, associates, and Knoxville Chamber Ambassadors are also pictured.

(2nd Place)

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



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ith the economy on the rebound, companies are looking to hire again. However, many companies are finding it hard to fill open positions because of one problem: a lack of technically skilled workers. “We hear time and time again from our existing industries in the Innovation Valley region that they have jobs available, and good-paying jobs, but there is difficulty finding candidates with appropriate skills, oftentimes the types of skills that one can earn with a two-year associate degree or certificate,” said Doug Lawyer, vice president of economic development for the Knoxville Chamber. This issue is so prevalent in the area that Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett hosted a meeting at the Chamber in January 2012 to discuss the issue with a dozen area companies feeling the skill shortage. To help remedy the problem, the Chamber has been working to connect businesses with the resources available to them at community and technical colleges in the area. It has also worked closely with Knox County Schools to develop a new Career and Technical Education Magnet School that will start preparing the workforce at the high school level.

CTE Magnet School One key to producing a skilled workforce is preparing students before they graduate high school. That’s the focus of the new Career and Technical Education Magnet School opening next fall at the Strawberry Plains campus of Pellissippi State Community College. “We see this school as ground-breaking. We are proud to be able to offer the opportunities we will be able to provide to our students,” said Daphne Odom, magnet supervisor for Knox County Schools. The school will accept 125 incoming freshmen for the 2014-15 school year. Those students will then have a year to determine which “cluster” area they want to be the focus of their instruction – advanced manufacturing, sustainable living, teacher preparation, or homeland security. These cluster areas will prepare students to continue on to a technical college, university, or career after graduation.

“This new high school offers another pathway to success for the students of Knox County Schools,” Odom said. “Students attending this school will need to be highly motivated, prefer working in groups in a hands-on environment, want to utilize project-based learning techniques, and want to be career and/or college ready.” When defining the clusters, the school system worked closely with the Knoxville Chamber to identify areas of local industry that have a high demand for skilled workers. “All potential career paths are high-demand, high-skill, and high-wage,” Odom said. “We want local industry to have confidence that our students will be prepared and qualified.” Odom said the school welcomes input in programming and support with internship and field experiences from area businesses. “We truly see this high school as a collaborative effort between KCS, industry, and PSCC,” she said. Contact Jennifer Evans, vice president of public policy at the Knoxville Chamber for more information–

Pellissippi State In the past five years, Pellissippi State Community College has seen a 17 percent spike in its enrollments across the board. The affordability of its programs and its high job placement rate make it a very attractive post-secondary education option. The career/technical programs in particular have seen a 31 percent increase in enrollments during this time. The programs with the highest enrollment growth have been engineering technology, administrative professional technology, computer science, and early childhood education. “Pellissippi State’s career/technical programs have been designed to be flexible and responsive to employer needs by providing students with two-year degrees that prepare them for today’s workforce,” said Ted Lewis, vice president of academic affairs for PSCC. “Our enrollment growth in career/technical programs and high

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See “Help Wanted” on pg. 70

“Help Wanted” continued from pg. 69 placement rates upon graduation from these programs indicate that we are addressing these needs.” Lewis said the school works closely with local businesses, industries, chambers of commerce, and career/technology advisory committees to develop curricula and provide state-of-the-art technologies, classrooms, and facilities that prepare students for professional success. To further prepare students for the workforce, the school requires that those in a career/technical program complete an internship in order to graduate. “Internships are an important part of the curriculum at Pellissippi State in providing students with practical work experience that prepares them for their career. Many of our partners (e.g., Clayton Homes/Vanderbilt Mortgage, Covenant Health, DENSO, U.S. Department of Energy, Pilot Flying J, etc.) provide internship opportunities for our students.” PSCC currently has a job placement rate of 96 percent. Lewis said that in some programs, such as electrical construction management, manufacturing, general technology, and computer accounting, to name a few, had a 100 percent job placement rate. He added that some of the companies that regularly hire PSCC grads are Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Radio Systems Corporation, RbM Services, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the United Parcel Service. “In partnership with our community, Pellissippi State is committed to working with local business and industry in support of regional economic development and providing a curriculum that meets employer needs and continues to improve the quality of life for residents of East Tennessee,” Lewis said.

Tennessee College of Applied Technology The Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Knoxville, formerly known as

Tennessee Technology Center, has been producing top-notch technically skilled students since 1966. With its programs at capacity and its post-graduation placement rate, TCATs are hoping to make an impact on the deficit of technically skilled laborers. “There’s a demand for technology out there and we’ve been meeting with the major industries in this region, and every one of them is begging for highly technically skilled employees,” TCAT at Knoxville Director Dwight Murphy said. “We’ve got to get the labor force versed in technology.” Since the economic downturn, TCAT has seen a boost in enrollments. The school has 30 full- and part-time programs that are all at capacity and have lengthy waiting lists. In fact, for the most popular programs, like diesel repair, machine tool, and surgical assisting, those lists are nearly two years long. Murphy said that to cut down on those wait times, TCAT is trying to expand its capacity through using off-campus facilities and offering dual enrollment credit in Knox County Schools for classes like welding and cosmetology. The placement rates for students graduating from TCAT are incredibly high. Last year, 83 percent of graduates were placed in their fields of study, which speaks to the high demand for technically skilled laborers. “Statistics tell you that 75 percent of parents want their child to go to college and 25 percent want their child to go to technical school,” Murphy said. “The reality is that the economy wants 75 percent to go to technical schools and 25 percent to go to four-year universities.” Employers also use TCAT, not only to recruit employees, but to elevate the skills of their current workers. “We’re very flexible and very portable,” Murphy said. “When a company comes to us and tells us that they need a skill taught, we’ll develop that program and teach it. We can gear up very quickly to meet those needs.” To view a list of Tennessee companies that are hiring, visit

Innovation Valley Expands Innovation Valley, the regional economic development initiative managed by the Knoxville Chamber, is expanding its footprint with the addition of two new partner organizations. Jefferson County Economic Development and the Anderson County Economic Development Agency have officially joined the regional organization for economic development as partner agencies. Additionally, the Town of Farragut has become an investor in the organization. “The fact that we have other communities approaching Innovation Valley to be part of our regional strategy for economic development speaks highly that we are heading in the right direction,” said Doug Lawyer, vice president of economic development for the Knoxville Chamber. The new partners join six other agencies from the Blount, Loudon, Oak Ridge, Roane, Tellico, and Knoxville areas. Together they have defined a strategic plan for regional economic development. The first five-year strategic plan was successfully executed from 2008-13 and focused on public policy and workforce development; technology and entrepreneurship; global marketing, and business retention and expansion. Innovation Valley is currently implementing its second five-year plan, or Blueprint 2.0, which was launched in February. The plan focuses on six strategic priorities and it focuses attention on the recruitment of companies in five target industry clusters – advanced technology and manufacturing, corporate services, creative media

services, energy, and transportation. Lawyer said the new partners will be instrumental in helping execute Blueprint 2.0. “Jefferson and Anderson Counties each bring different assets into our mix of offerings to potential business recruits as well as existing industry expansions,” Lawyer said. “We are also excited that the Town of Farragut recognizes the value of Innovation Valley and has come on board as an investor in future of our region,” he continued. Learn more about Innovation Valley and Blueprint 2.0 at

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Radio Systems Corporation Founder and CEO

Boyd Uses Business Expertise to Fuel Education ‘Drive’


“college,” that includes our community colleges providing associates degrees and our Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT) that provide certificates. I hear too often “not everyone needs to go to college. We need welders and machinists, too.” Well, those jobs have become highly skilled and require at least a certificate from our TCATs. Third, there just aren’t enough high school graduates to get us there. We only have 20,000 a year statewide that don’t go to college now. If all of those did, and all of those graduated, that would give us 240,000 additional degrees by 2025. Yet, to get to 55 percent, we need 494,000. The only way to succeed is to get adults back to finish. Luckily, there are 940,000 adults in Tennessee with some college but no degree.

Boyd: The governor asked me last year to help him explore ways to ad-

Commerce: Why are you passionate about higher education and achieving

Randy Boyd is a man of many hats – successful businessman, restaurateur, minor league baseball team owner, and avid animal lover. Recently, the Radio Systems Corporation founder and CEO has taken on the role of education advisor to Gov. Bill Haslam. Together, he and the governor are charting the path to improve post-secondary attainment with the Drive to 55 initiative.

Commerce: Tell us about the Drive to 55 and your involvement in the

dress the “iron triangle” in higher education of costs, access, and quality. I’ve jokingly said he was looking for someone with two unique attributes to serve as his Special Advisor on Higher Education, and I am immodestly one of the few that qualified. The candidate had to first be willing to work for free. Second, they had to be unencumbered by knowledge of the subject. I qualified! Fortunately, due to the great leadership at my company, I was in a position to take a year off to serve. And while I do have some knowledge of higher education through my work with tnAchieves, I think not being an expert allows me to ask a lot of dumb questions and challenge the status quo with fresh eyes. What drew me to the job was the governor is passionate about making a difference in higher education, and knowing that if we can determine the right policies, he will be eager to champion them. My primary job is not to be the visionary, but to be a great listener – to provide the governor with an extra set of ears. There are many great, proven ideas in our state and around the country that will help us reach our goal. My job is to consolidate and organize those, and channel them back to the governor. Our mission is the Drive to 55, which means we need to take post-secondary attainment (something beyond high school) from where it is today of 32 percent to 55 percent by the year 2025. Every economist and think tank around the country has forecasted that this is the minimum Tennessee must achieve to meet workforce demand by then. For each percentage we are short, that is a percentage of our population that will be unemployed or underemployed. This is not a nice-to-have mission, it is a must-have. There are a few key things to know. First, it matters what type of degree one gets. We have forecasted both our supply and demand for over 70 career pathways by region across our state so we can see where our gaps are. Now, we need to create policies that target these gaps. Second, when we talk of

the Drive to 55 goal?

Boyd: Getting a degree or certificate changes everything. For our residents, it increases their income. An associates degree will result on average in 400 percent more in lifetime income than just a high school degree. And, there are many other outcomes that directly link to it: better health, lower unemployment, lower incarceration, more volunteerism. Likewise, for our state and our communities, revenues go up as residents become contributors, not dependents, and what we spend on health care, unemployment, and prisons goes down. It is simply the best investment we can make.

Commerce: What are the biggest barriers to the Drive to 55? Boyd: Ourselves. It’s not lack of money. We are the third highest state in the country in the amount of direct financial aid we give our students. But, we are 42nd in attainment levels. Our problem is one of culture. We have too low expectations for ourselves and for our children. This is because of a lack of knowledge about the changing need for higher skill levels, and it is because many don’t think they can afford it. We can fix both.

Commerce: What changes have already been implemented to work towards this goal?

Boyd: Many, but one example is a new program called Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support (SAILS). About 70 percent of high school graduates are not ready for college level math and so they have to start their college career

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“Q&A” continued from pg. 71

WGU estimates it will contribute 10,000 degrees by 2025, in four very specific career paths.

in a remedial math course. If they have to do this, then there is only a 5 percent chance they will ever graduate. It’s the kiss of death. So, with SAILS, we intercept those students in the fall of their senior year. They take a supplemental course in

Commerce: What should the business community be doing to help achieve the Drive to 55?

Boyd: It needs to actively engage in collaboratives with universities and colleges that help to identify skills gaps and develop programs to fill those gaps. As a businessperson, too, I feel guilty. Like many, I am quick to complain about the lack of quality graduates with the wrong skills, but then I am not having my team, HR, and other departments, actively engaging with our schools. The schools can’t work in a vacuum. Quality is defined by creating products (students) that the market demands. If the market doesn’t share what it needs, then we can’t expect the quality that it wants.

Commerce: As a businessman, what has surprised you most about working for state government?

Boyd: I’ve always had a prejudice against

Randy Boyd has taken a year away from one passion, his pet-product company Radio Systems Corporation, to focus on another passion: kids and education. He is currently working as an education advisor to Gov. Bill Haslam – on a volunteer basis.

“bureaucrats.” However, I now realize that there are many very passionate, brilliant, hard-working people in our state that are making a significant sacrifice, accepting lower compensation than they could make in the private sector, because they want to make a difference. However, we are spending the people’s money, and thus there are a mind-numbing, speed-inhibiting series of checks and balances, process, and procedures, that make everything much slower and much more difficult to get done than in private industry. But, it is worth the effort, because if you can get something done, the impact can be transformative.

Commerce: You’re a successful busihigh school, facilitated by the community colleges, and if they pass that course, they are college ready. In a test last year, 84 percent of the students that were destined to failure in college passed the course! If we can expand this statewide, we go from 70 percent not college ready to only 11 percent! This year we are offering the program to 8,000 students statewide. If the whole Drive to 55 just did this one thing, it would be worthwhile. But this is just one of more than 20 initiatives we are looking at.

Commerce: Tell us about the Western Governor’s University. Who do you expect will use it? Will it work for all career paths?

Boyd: WGU-Tennessee targets those adults with some college and no degree. The average student is a 37-year-old working mom wanting to finish her degree.

nessman, a philanthropist, and a volunteer; how do you keep up with it all? What keeps you going?

Boyd: First, I don’t get too caught up in doing anything too well! Second, and more seriously, I am surrounded by great people in everything I am involved. At tnAchieves Krissy DeAlejandro and her team are amazing and do all the work. I just go around talking about the work they do. At Radio Systems, my COO Willie Wallace and CFO Chris Chandler along with an outstanding leadership team run the company with little input from me this year. I never doubted they could. In fact, they are setting record after record without me. Lastly, I find the opportunity to make a difference in our community, and in our state, to be incredibly invigorating and fulfilling. As with my company, tnAchieves and now working with the governor on the Drive to 55, it is a chance to be a part of something bigger and better than I could ever be by myself.

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(July 2013)

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



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

% Change July ’12July ‘13

July 2013

June 2013

July 2012

% Change June ’13July ‘13

238,110 374,730 3,153,600 157,196,000

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

243,050 383,400 3,141,500 156,526,000

0.8 0.8 0.3 0.1

-2.0 -2.3 0.4 0.4

336,200 2,736,700

336,500 2,750,900

327,200 2,688,600

-0.1 -0.5

2.8 1.8

18,460 29,900 300,040

19,160 30,950 310,790

18,020 29,670 305,620

-3.7 -3.4 -3.5

2.4 0.8 -1.8

7.0 7.2 8.5 7.7

7.3 7.5 8.8 7.8

6.7 7.0 8.8 8.6

-0.3 -0.3 -0.3 -0.1

0.3 0.2 -0.3 -0.9

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

Non-Ag Employment Knoxville MSA Tennessee

Residential Closings Residential Inventory Median Residential Price

July 2013 1,289 15,656 $156,300

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

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



Knoxville (City)

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

June 2013* 11 11 0

June 2012 13 13 0

% Change June ’12June ‘13 -15.4 -15.4 0.0

Knox Co.

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

99 99 0

108 108 0

-8.3 -8.3 0.0

Knoxville MSA

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

130 130 0

133 133 0

-2.3 -2.3 0.0


Total Single-Family Multi-Family

1,800 1,281 519

1,831 1,150 681

-1.7 11.4 -23.8

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

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX (CPI) - ALL ITEMS % Change June ’12July ‘13

% Change July ’11July ‘13 0.8 0.6

July ’12-‘13

June ’12-‘13

July ’11-‘12

2.2 2.0

1.9 1.8

1.4 1.4

0.3 0.2

% Change July ’12July ‘13

Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee

July 2013

June 2013

July 2012

% Change June ’13July ‘13

47,346,542 67,115,826 634,841,867

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

48,004,196 67,109,685 613,858,234

-1.1 -0.9 6.4

-1.4 0.0 3.4

13,300,633 18,760,439

13,181,633 17,774,727

-1.0 0.2

-0.1 5.8


Passengers Cargo

May 2013 155,164 7,409,392

April 2013 137,011 6,610,048

May 2012 157,199 8,087,471

Source: Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority

Local Sales Tax Knox Co. Knoxville MSA

*All 2013 building permit data is preliminary and therefore subject to revision throughout the year. Sources: U.S. Housing & Urban Development – SOCDS – State of the Cities Data Systems; U.S. Census Bureau – Building Permits Survey

*South – City Size Class B/C


July 2012 1,034 14,862 $148,125

13,169,293 18,797,569

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

July 2013 427,547 27,439 19,452 8,026 55,417 46,654 8,490 48,668 52,522 23,272 10,806 86,010 33,863

June 2013 421,636 28,852 19,279 7,750 53,841 46,561 8,124 47,296 53,683 22,377 10,727 82,652 33,548

400,379 24,983 18,480 7,962 53,168 45,152 8,081 46,222 51,863 22,525 10,042 74,800 30,435

% Change June ’13July ‘13 1.4 -4.9 0.9 3.6 2.9 0.2 4.5 2.9 -2.2 4.0 0.7 4.1 0.9





July 2012

% Change July ’12July ‘13 24.7 5.3 5.5

Source: Knoxville Area Association of Realtors

Available Labor Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee

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

% Change June ’13July ‘13 -2.7 2.5 4.9

% Change July ’12July ‘13 6.8 9.8 5.3 0.8 4.2 3.3 5.1 5.3 1.3 3.3 7.6 15.0 11.3 3.9

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

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EST. 1869

% Change April ’13May ‘13 13.2 12.1

% Change May ’12May ‘13 -1.3 -8.4

PREMIER PARTNER PROFILE For more than a century, AT&T has been an integral part of communities across Tennessee. The company provides consumers and businesses in Knoxville and across the state with wireless, broadband, and other services to meet their growing demand for connectivity whenever and wherever they need it. Alan Hill, regional director of external affairs for AT&T, said the company focuses not only on serving the community, but also on being an active part of it. “We do not simply support our communities; we are members of them, too,” Hill said. “Since 1879, we have helped shape those communities through our investment, innovation, and jobs, and through our philanthropic efforts.” Last year in Tennessee alone, AT&T spent more than $335 million on goods and services purchased from suppliers based in the state. It also employs more than 5,400 people in the state, including several hundred in the Knoxville area. Career positions locally range from engineers, network planners, technicians, sales/marketing personnel, retail managers, call center representatives, and customer care representatives. “AT&T is investing in Tennessee and creating new jobs because consumers and businesses are demanding more advanced wireless and broadband services,” Hill said. Recently, AT&T has been using its influential position in the community to send out a powerful message through its “It Can Wait” movement, which seeks to end texting while driving. “(Cellphones) are now an indispensable part of our lives,” Hill said. “But, in recent years, there has been a spike in the number of car crashrelated injuries and fatalities specifically caused by texting while driving.” Studies show that more than 100,000 accidents a year are attributed to texting while driving, and that a driver who is texting is 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident. “(AT&T) created ‘It Can Wait’ to educate consumers about the dangers of texting and driving,” Hill said. “(The company has) spent tens of millions of dollars, and our employees have dedicated countless hours to educating consumers.” Since the movement was launched in 2009, Hill said, other wireless carriers like Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile as well as hundreds of other businesses, schools, community groups, and governments have joined the cause. “We’re encouraging every wireless user to log onto www.ItCanWait. com and to take the pledge never to text and drive,” Hill said. “No text is worth dying for.”

Chamber Measures Itself Against Peer Organizations Results are in for the 2012-13 American Chamber of Commerce Executives Operations Survey. Each year, the Knoxville Chamber participates in the annual ACCE survey as a way to benchmark its performance amongst other chambers across the United States and Canada, in an effort to continually hold itself to the highest of standards. “Benchmarking against other similar chambers helps the board and staff to understand the range of performance levels that are possible,” said Mark Field, senior vice president of membership for the Knoxville Chamber. “The survey provides comparative data that is needed to help set a high-performance baseline and verify outcomes.” This year, results showed the Chamber continued to make positive strides in membership retention and revenue. The Chamber ranked in the 90th percentile for average member retention in dollars. Additionally, it averaged 45 percent of its total revenue in member dues, 10 percentage points above the survey average. The ACCE is a national association uniquely serving individuals involved in the management of chambers of commerce. ACCE’s mission is to support and develop chamber professionals to lead businesses and their communities. ACCE currently has more than 7,500 professional members in 1,200 chambers of commerce. Knoxville Chamber Intern Kayla Witt contributed to this article.

Congratulations to Cori Johnson(left) and Ashleigh Adkins(right) for ranking seventh and sixth, respectively, in the American Chamber of Commerce Executives’ Circle of Champions. The Circle of Champions recognizes the top performers in membership sales in the nation.

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Office Depot Program Offers Big Savings To Businesses On Supplies The Knoxville Chamber’s Office Depot Chamber Advantage Program gives member businesses a chance to save a little cash when stocking up on supplies for the office. “It’s great for our member businesses because it gives them discounts on things that they’re going to be buying anyway for their business,” said Melissa Spangler, vice president of member services for the Knoxville Chamber. Office Depot offers several ways Chamber members can save. One option is the Office Depot Business Account, which allows member businesses to order discount office supplies via phone, fax, or Web and provides next-day delivery. Business Account holders can also take advantage of monthly specials and promotions. As an added bonus, the program makes it easy to track expense by

providing members with monthly reports on supply expenses. Smaller businesses can take advantage of the program through the Office Depot Store Card. This offers discounts for purchases made in retail stores. Most recently, Office Depot has rolled out the Employee Purchase Program, which allows employers to pass along savings to their employees. With the Employee Purchase Program card, employees can save 10 percent on their purchases in store. “This is a great way to extend the Chamber Advantage Office Depot Program benefit to company employees and it’s an extra perk for being a member of the Chamber,” said Kathy Natour, Office Depot territory development manager. “It’s risk-free to try, so members should just try it out,” Spangler said. “You’ll see the savings.” To learn more about the program, visit

PROPEL MENTOR/PROTÉGÉ PROFILE Protégé: Chad Ridner, Two Roads Mentor: Thomas H. Dickenson, Hodges, Doughty & Carson, PLLC One of the key components of mentorship is giving back knowledge learned through one’s own experiences. Mentor Thomas H. Dickenson of Hodges, Doughty & Carson, PLLC is an example of that notion. “I think those that have experience need to give back to the community that made their business successful, and this is one way to do that,” Dickenson said. “Furthermore, as a community we want small or start-up companies to be successful and grow because that benefits us all. Providing leadership through mentoring can foster that process.” Having seen many failed business ventures through his years of practicing law, Dickenson has a unique perspective to offer his protégé Chad Ridner, owner of Two Roads bookkeeping company. Ridner’s company partners with small business owners to relieve them of their bookkeeping headaches, freeing them to do what they are passionate about, and empowering them to make financially informed business decisions. Two Roads concentrates on clients in the construction, retail, restaurants, and non-profit industries. Ridner said he’s learned some simple, but powerful lessons from Dickenson through the mentoring process. “Tom is a gracious and thoughtful mentor,” Ridner said. “The first thing that struck us was his selfless desire to give back. We don’t really have the ability to provide much in the way of helping him so it’s humbling and won-

derful to receive his counsel.” Ridner added, “Another thing we have learned is power of asking questions and then listening to the answers. It seems so simple but listening is a skill that is often overlooked.” Ridner expressed that having a mentor has been invaluable and Protégé Chad Ridner, of Two Roads (left) and he hopes that he and his company Mentor, Tom Dickenson of Thomas H. Dickenwill give back and do the same for son, Hodges, Doughty & Carson, PLLC (right). others one day. “Being a small business owner is really tough. Having a mentor helps you to traverse the rough waters and smooth things out,” he said. “Tom’s circle of influence and network of people far exceeds ours, so it’s great to connect to people we would not otherwise know. Additionally, owning and running a business can often be like a horse with blinders. Even though it is sometimes painful, it is important to have an objective set of eyes to shed light on things you wouldn’t otherwise see.” This article was written by Doug Minter, program director for the Propel Mentor/Protégé Program. To learn more about the program, contact Minter at (865) 246-2662 or email him at

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Capacity Crowd at Knoxville News Sentinel Open Networking Event


SEPTEMBER 12 Premier

Partner Appreciation Reception 5-7 p.m. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse Exclusive for members at the Premier Partner level

SEPTEMBER 17 Bright Ideas Seminar: A Panel Discussion on Doing Business with the Government Panelists include: Brian Strong, Vendor Registry; Misty Mayes, Management Solutions, LLC; Paul Middlebrooks, Procurement Counselor 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square $25 for Chamber Members and $35 for Non-Members

Jeremy Hayes of Labor Ready, Candace Smith of Allstate Insurance, and Jan Cook of Labor Ready pose for a photo on the terrace of Fox Den Country Club on Aug. 15 at the Knoxville News Sentinel Open Business After Hours.

The Knoxville News Sentinel Open hosted a Business After Hours on the first day of play at Fox Den Country Club, and a capacity crowd of Knoxville Chamber members attended the popular event. Attendees were given VIP treatment with access to the clubhouse dining area, patio, and course to watch the final pairings wrap up the day of play. The evening concluded with Lindsay Serfass of PMG Benefits Consulting and George Lucke of Edwards Jones winning the door prizes – two tickets to the Calhoun’s Heiniken House Tent for Saturday and Sunday’s action on the course.

SEPTEMBER 19 a.m. Exchange 8-9 a.m. Image Matters, 3017 Sutherland Ave. Sponsored by: Catering Sponsor:


SEPTEMBER 26 Schmoozapalooza 4-7 p.m. Knoxville Civic Coliseum, 500 Howard Baker Jr. Ave. Exhibit: Tables start at $200 Attend: $10 (Chamber Members can save $5 by preregistering online prior to Sept. 24) Sponsored by: Media Sponsors: Rob Leach, director of the Knoxville U.S. Export Assistance Center which is part of the Knoxville Chamber Partnership, received a 10-year service award for helping U.S. exporters with international sales. (Left to right) Mike Miller, Department of Commerce regional network director, Doug Lawyer, vice president of economic development for the Knoxville Chamber, and Leach.

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 September 2013  
Commerce September 2013  

The official newsletter of the Knoxville Chamber.