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2012 Pinnacle Business Awards Honor Outstanding Businesses & Businesspeople pg. 93 INSIDE: Schmoozapalooza re-cap pg. 96 + Monthly Economic Indicators pg. 98


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

AT&T celebrated the grand opening of its new AT&T Experience store at 5429 Washington Pike in the Harvest Park shopping center. Store Manager, Drew Porter, is pictured center cutting the ribbon and is joined by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Senator Becky Massey, City Councilman Nick Della Volpe, Representative Bill Dunn, and Representative Harry Tindell.


Knox Area Rescue Ministries



Tennessee Valley Fair

Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corporation


SHERRY MCHAFFIE Pinnacle Financial Partners

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

NEW MEMBERS / NEW PREMIER PARTNERS GOLD Bandit Lites, Inc. (865) 971-3071 Audio-Visual Services: Event Lighting

BRONZE Aubrey’s Inc. (865) 584-7779 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places LeGacy Resource Corporation (865) 483-5955 Visionary Solutions, LLC (865) 482-8670

Arthritis Foundation (865) 470-7909 Healthcare Providers & Services: Agencies

Barleys Taproom & Pizzeria (865) 521-0092 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places

CMOco (865) 522-4814 Business & Professional Services: Marketing

FreshCoat (865) 978-6645 Construction & Contractors

Luna Creative (865) 292-8973 Business & Professional Services: Advertising

BGT Recruiting & Consulting (865) 813-0426 Employment, Career, & Staffing Services

Computer Systems Plus (865) 573-5303 Computer & IT Services: Hardware/Software Developers

Houla Entertainment (865) 414-9266 Event Planning, Catering, & Venues: Talent Agencies

Management Solutions, LLC (Training Center) (865) 963-0400 Education & Training

Bistro by the Tracks (865) 558-9500 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places

Construction Project Solutions, LLC (865) 474-9789 Construction & Contractors: Specialty Services

I-Deal Tickets, LLC (865) 622-7255 Entertainment: Ticket Sales

Mike Davis State Farm Agent (865) 637-8616 Insurance: Property & Casualty

Sunspot (865) 637-4663 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places

I-Recruit (865) 357-2069

Pearl Marketing Technologies (865) 679-0340 Business & Professional Services: Marketing

Triple 8 (888) 838-7987 Manufacturing: Consumer Products

Penny Kleinschmidt - State Farm Agent (865) 688-5072 Insurance: Business

Value Place Knoxville (865) 238-4545 Hotels & Lodging: Extended Stay

LegalShield (865) 567-6356 Legal Services: Attorneys

ProCare (615) 598-4897 Construction & Contractors: Specialty Services

LML Ventures, LLC (865) 233-5339 Government

Rick Terry Jewelry Designs (865) 777-3793 Shopping: Jewelry

WSI Digital Marketing (866) 862-5403 x700 Business & Professional Services: Marketing

Blue Ridge Broadcasting (828) 285-8477 Broadcast Media: Radio CG Services Corporation (865) 482-0487 Environmental Services & Equipment: Consultants Clayton Center for the Arts (865) 981-8590 Entertainment: Arts & Culture


EDITOR LORI FULLER (865) 573-4749 Business & Professional Services: Credit Card Equipment, Supplies, & Processing Digital Media Graphix (866) 584-9740 Computer & IT Services: Web Design & Hosting Everything Knoxville Magazine (865) 356-4777 Publishing/Publications

Law Family Dentistry, PLLC (865) 560-2244 Healthcare Providers & Services: Dentists















Smart Auto (865) 684-2277 Automotive Sales, Parts, & Service: Pre-Owned Cars Stefano’s Pizza (865) 522-4151 Restaurants - Eating & Drinking Places

WTNZ Fox 43 (865) 693-4343 Broadcast Media: Television


he Knoxville Chamber and the business community recognized honorees in nine categories at the 2012 Pinnacle Business Awards, presented by BB&T, on May 4 at the Knoxville Convention Center. A silent-auction sponsored by WSI Oak Ridge preceded the awards ceremony, which was emceed by WBIR-TV’s Robin Wilhoit. “A Pinnacle Award is the most prestigious award you can win as a local businessperson, entrepreneur, or organization,” Mike Edwards, President and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber said. “We’re proud to honor the dedication, community support, and success these businesses all represent.” Over 170 businesses were nominated for a Pinnacle Award this year. Each year members of the Chamber’s Board of Directors are charged with judging the applications and determining the three finalists in each of eight categories. The ninth award is the prestigious James A. Haslam II Chairman’s Leadership Award, which honors a business leader who exhibits strength of character, resolve, commitment to the community, and success in business. Larry Martin, a 36-year veteran of First Tennessee, former chief of staff to Mayor Bill Haslam, and one of Knoxville’s most respected community leaders was surprised with being named as the James A. Haslam II Chairman’s Leadership Award winner. Martin started a career with First Tennessee in 1969 as a branch manager in Memphis and had worked his way all the way up to chief operating officer of First Tennessee Financial Services by the time he retired in 2006. He moved to Knoxville in 1987 to become the regional president of First Tennessee-Knoxville, and has never left. Recognized as one of our community’s most respected leaders, his contributions have been numerous. He has served in leadership roles for the boards of the Covenant Health System, Family Investment Foundation, East Tennessee Foundation, Partnership for Neighborhood Improvement, the Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation, the Boy Scouts, Leardership Knoxville, and the Knoxville Chamber.


YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR AWARD UT-BATTELLE This award honors a professional that is 40-years-of-age or younger and is on track to be one of tomorrow’s top business and community leaders. 2012 FINALISTS: Chris McAdoo, Best Behavior Creative Club; Jonathan Williams, Accord Federal Services, LLC WINNER: Parker Frost, Founder and President, Gigmark Gigmark is a custom software solutions company that specializes in Interactive Flash Drive technology, a cost-effective cutting-edge marketing tool that allows real-time updates and performance monitoring. The patented technology has lured such marketing behemoths as Ford, NASCAR, and General Motors into his stable of clients. Frost has helped grow the company through a focus on the future and has launched two additional new businesses in the past year. “I am now 39-years-old and my time is coming to an end of being considered a ‘young entrepreneur,” Frost said in his application. “Webster’s defines an entrepreneur as one of who organizes, manages, and assumes risk of a business or enterprise. I believe these traits cannot be taught but are something you are born with. It is definitely not the lifestyle for many, but I could not imagine living my life anyway else.” PRESENTED BY

IMPACT AWARD AQUA-CHEM This award is presented to a business that displays a commitment to making East Tennessee a better place to live through the development and support of community projects or programs. 2012 FINALISTS: Grace Construction, PetSafe WINNER: Green Mountain Coffee Roasters “Creating the ultimate coffee experience in every life we touch from tree to cup – transforming the way the world underPRESENTED BY



“PINNACLE” continued from pg. 93

stands business” is the purpose and driving force behind Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and you can see that purpose through their employees’ interactions with the community in East Tennessee. Employees receive up to 52 hours per year to volunteer in their communities and also have the opportunity to participate in a program that awards non-profits with $250 grant when an employee contributes 25-volunteer hours to that organization. In just over three years, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has distributed over $350,000 to local organizations through its “Brewing a Better World” grant program and plans to infuse an additional $830,000 during 2012. More than two-thirds of Green Mountain’s Knoxville employees participate in various programs that benefitted organizations such as the East Tennessee Technology Access Center, Second Harvest Food Bank, and more. “The team members are passionate about GMCR’s ‘Brewing a Better World’ mission and their community, each offering unique perspectives and critical insight when evaluating grants to ensure that our contributions will make a sustainable impact in at least one of three focus areas,” Green Mountain Coffee Roasters stated in its nomination application.

MINORITY-OWNED BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD COVENANT HEALTH This award honors a minority-owned business that has produced outstanding business results and growth, and overcome the obstacles of race while competing in a non-diverse field. 2012 FINALISTS: ComputerWorks, Manny’s Catering WINNER: Always Moore Janitorial PRESENTED BY

Service Delnise Moore is a graduate of the Innovation Valley’s Propel Mentor/Protégé program which helped her grow Always Moore Janitorial Service from a service that helped seniors clean and organize their homes to a commercial and residential contractor with anticipated sales of more than $1 million in 2012. “I was invited by one of my clients to a networking session and that was the beginning of the growth of my business,” Moore said. “From that session I was blessed with six new clients and within three weeks my clientele grew to 24 clients in both residential and commercial. Revenue increased by 240 percent and staff by 75 percent.” Today, Always Moore Janitorial Service provides methodical professional cleaning services across Knox, Anderson, and Blount counties.

The Business Excellence Awards are presented to companies headquartered in East Tennessee or that have a significant presence here. These winners have shown remarkable profitability, growth, and stability. Two awards are given in this category based on the number of employees: a large award for companies with over 150 employees and a mid-size award for companies with 51-150 employees.

LARGE BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD PRESENTED BY CHEROKEE DISTRIBUTING 2012 FINALISTS 21st Mortgage Corporation, Jewelry Television WINNER: Cellular Sales As one of the fastest growing privatelyowned retailers in the country, it’s becoming difficult to drive in the southeast without passing a Cellular Sales store. As Verizon Wireless’ largest indirect agent nationwide, Cellular Sales has over 500 retail stores in 25 states and plans to open another 150 stores during 2012. Inc. Magazine reported that the company’s revenue increased from $166.8 million in 2007 to $488.5 million last year. With about 3800 employees nationwide, Cellular Sales says it will always call Knoxville home. The company’s headquarters and customer care call center are both located here, in addition to 25 retail stores. “We owe our success to a simple and unrelenting focus on total customer satisfaction. This dedication to our customers has become our corporate mission and is the backbone to our success,” JT Thome Jr., Cellular Sales chief operating officer stated on the award application.

MID-SIZED BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD PRESENTED BY THE KNOXVILLE CHAMBER 2012 FINALISTS Power Systems, Inc., Strata-G, LLC WINNER: Consolidated Products, Inc. Consolidated Products has transformed itself from a two-man operation in one small building to a 70-employee operation occupying four buildings in Knoxville along with satellite support locations in Ashland City and Johnson City. The company is an industry leader in lean manufacturing and provides products and services worldwide. Today, the privately held company offers two state-of-the-art digital presses, one of which is the first of its kind in the world. Consolidated Products offers a wide assortment of products, from compliant printing for industrial


and medical device applications to pressure sensitive labels and tags, dome decals, RFID systems, and more. “We are focused on exceeding customer expectations and providing peace of mind that comes from partnering with a quality organization,” Kirk Iscuss, President of Consolidated Products said.

WOMAN-OWNED BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD LBMC This award is given to an outstanding East Tennessee woman-owned company that is independently owned, operated, and controlled by a female. The winner is selected based on a demonstrated ability to compete in a non-diverse field. 2012 FINALISTS Ackermann PR, Elizabeth Eason Architecture, LLC WINNER: The Trust Company With more than $1.6 billion in assets under The Trust Company’s watchful eye, the company’s first quarter-century has been filled with growth, showing profitable promise almost immediately. After its founding 1987, The Trust Company achieved profitability within the first three years of business, quickly growing a track record of stellar customer service and community awareness. Initially starting with three employees, the company now employs 54 and offers its clients a full-range of services that includes: investment management; personal trust; estate administration; retirement plan services; IRAs; and financial, estate and generational planning. “Our company’s perspective is that what is good for Knoxville is also good for the Trust Company and we find our customers agree,” the company stated in the award application. The Trust Company supports more than 60 East Tennessee non-profit organizations and beginning in 2012, the company provides each employee an additional day of paid time off specifically for volunteer or charitable efforts. PRESENTED BY

INNOVATOR AWARD PRESENTED BY PERSHING YOAKLEY & ASSOCIATES This award is given to a business that has developed a new technology, innovative product or service, or applied a business system or service in an innovative way. 2012 FINALISTS Agile Technologies, Cadre5 WINNER: Aqua-Chem While Aqua-Chem is a company that’s been around since World War II, its innovation that’s helped the Knoxvillebased company see double-digit revenue growth now, some 60 years later.

It is now considered a world-leader in water technologies, providing portable desalination and purification systems for the U.S. military, pharmaceutical manufacturers, biotech firms, and several other markets. “Aqua-Chem is an incredibly innovative and groundbreaking company because our products help people,” David Gensterblum, Aqua-Chem’s President and CEO said. “From the water we purify for United States soldiers to the Aqua-Chem water used to help fight disease.” Aqua-Chem continues to develop innovative water processing systems that are more energy efficient and appealing to today’s customers. The company’s new Enviro-Technology allows manufacturing plants to recycle 90 percent of their wastewater into clean water for re-use. It’s green, cost-saving, sustainable solutions like this that Aqua-Chem sees as the future of its clients’ needs and ultimately, its own business growth.

SMALL BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD BB&T This award is presented to a business with 50 or fewer employees that has consistently grown its workforce and revenue and overcome obstacles including access to capital, operational efficiency, control of expenses, customer loyalty, and distribution. 2012 FINALISTS M Force Staffing, Management Solutions LLC WINNER: All Occasions Party Rentals From intimate parties at a residence to Bonaroo and even Super Bowl XXXIX, All Occasions Party Rentals has grown a business on providing unique event experiences for every occasion it’s a part of. The economic slowdown proved a tough time for many businesses, All Occasion Party Rentals included. However, weathering the storm is now a point of pride for the company. During that time, the company worked to expand its range of offerings rather than reel in investment. “I am proud that during that difficult time, we did not lay off any salaried staff members and asked no one to take a reduction in pay. We continued business as usual throughout the economic downturn,” Terry Turner, the President of All Occasions Party Rentals said. In 2011, All Occasions Party Rentals experienced its most profitable year and provided services to more than 3,800 events, setting the table for the launch of a new sister company last month. All Conference and Expo Services will specialize in tradeshows and conferences and has already landed the contract to be the preferred contractor for the Knoxville Convention Center. PRESENTED BY

The Pinnacle Business Awards, presented by BB&T are sponsored by: WSI Oak Ridge, EnergySolutions, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, Aqua-Chem, UTBattelle, Cherokee Distributing, Covenant Health, Prestige Cleaners, LMBC, The Greater Knoxville Business Journal, and Bluegill Creative. Production assistance was provided by Bandit Lites and Sound Ventures.


Keeping with tradition, Schmoozapalooza VI drew a huge crowd of more than 500 chamber members and non-members to Turkey Creek Public Market. With 70 exhibitors, great food catered by Puleo’s Grille, and games at every turn, the Chamber’s semi-annual bash in the name of business was another success. DOOR PRIZE WINNERS INCLUDED: Leon Spencer, Media Blox – iPad courtesy of Ideal Roofing & Exteriors John Dudeff, LegalShield – HotSpot Phone courtesy Cellular Sales Richard Esparza, Access Solutions – Kindle Fire courtesy of Comcast Business Class Kim Olen, Independent Insurance Consultants – Two $300 Travel Vouchers courtesy of Frontier and McGhee Tyson Tisha Collins, Arctel, Inc. - $100 Downtown Knoxville gift card Stephen Willis, C.H. Robinson - $100 Downtown Knoxville gift card

The Titanic Attraction in Pigeon Forge was one of about 70 fantastic exhibitors set-up all around the Turkey Creek Public Market.

Will Davis and the Cellular Sales booth drew a crowd of attendees looking to learn more about Mi-Fi and other products.


Cody Biggs, Mark Kondas, and Steven Lawrence of Hampton Inn pause for a quick photograph

Catering sponsor Puleo’s Grille brought in a great spread, including this manchego.

Phil Williams, of Newstalk 98.7 broadcasts live from the main entrance of Schmoozapalooza VI.

Tommy Roddy, of Ideal Roofing and Exteriors (right), congratulates Leon Spencer of Media Blox for winning an iPad

Cellular Sales is a management company that operates authorized wireless phone stores for Verizon Wireless throughout the United States. With dedicated small business consultants available to service your organization with the care you deserve, Cellular Sales offers East Tennessee businesses Verizon, the nation’s most reliable wireless network. “We want to make you more productive as a business person. We’re going to find solutions to your problems and save you money,” Will Davis, a business account manager at Cellular Sales said. Cellular Sales owes their success to a simple and unrelenting focus on total customer satisfaction and they’d love to show your business that dedication. For more information or to contact them for a consultation, head to

Small businesses are built on smart decisions and Comcast Business Class is committed to providing businesses the resources they need to make those decisions as quickly as they can. Comcast Business class offers reliable internet, phone, and TV services. “We really have a competitive edge we can offer businesses,” Jennifer Brown, a business services account executive with Comcast said. “Everything with technology is the faster the better. We can give you that speed while still providing reliability.” For more information or a free consultation, contact your local account executive or see how Comcast’s internet speeds compare to the competition at

Still a relatively new airline to most Knoxville travelers, Frontier Airlines is quickly gaining a reputation as a reliable low-cost carrier that’s putting East Tennessee businesses in touch with the west coast. “Frontier has non-stop service to Denver and recently added non-stop flights to Orlando International. They’ve really made a commitment to the community here, brought in their airplanes and offer a tremendous value to the business community,” Beth Baker, of McGhee Tyson Airport said. As the premier air facility in East Tennessee, McGhee Tyson is proud to play a pivotal role as a state-of-the-art facility connecting Knoxville to the world.

With a business built on a foundation of developing a service relationship that Knoxville homeowners and businesses can trust, Ideal Roofing and Exteriors is the choice roofing company in Knoxville. As one of only two Owens Corning Platinum Certified Contractors in Knoxville, you know you’re getting a roof that will last as long as possible when it is installed by the team at Ideal Roofing and Exteriors. “Owens Corning stands behind our work with a guarantee, so we’re partners with Owens Corning,” Tommy Roddy, a project manager with Ideal Exteriors and Roofing said. “We accept that as a big responsibility but we know our customers are going to be completely satisfied with the craftsmanship that goes into their new roof.”


Monthly Economic Indicators

(March 2012)

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


HOUSING MARKET % Change % Change Feb. ’12- March ’11March ‘12 March ‘12

Resident Labor Force

March 2012

Feb. 2012

March 2011

Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee U.S.

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

235,660 372,750 3,086,400 154,114,000

235,780 370,560 3,093,100 153,022,000

-0.4 -0.3 -0.3 0.1

-0.4 0.3 -0.5 0.8

335,300 2,674,500

332,800 2,652,600

325,300 2,631,500

0.8 0.8

3.1 1.6

Residential Closings Residential Inventory Median Residential Price

March 2012 934 13,928 $139,075

Feb. 2011 747 13,181 $128,450

March 2011 792 14,887 $139,450

% Change Feb. ’11March ‘12 25.0 5.7 8.3

% Change March ’11March ‘12 17.9 -6.9 -0.3

Source: Knoxville Area Association of Realtors

Non-Ag Employment Knoxville MSA Tennessee


Knoxville (City)

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

Feb. 2012* 7 7 0

Feb. 2011 15 15 0

% Change Feb. ’11Feb. ‘12 -53.3 -53.3 0.0

Knox Co.

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

74 74 0

59 57 2

25.4 29.8 -100.0

Knoxville MSA

Total Single-Family Multi-Family

96 96 0

85 83 2

12.9 15.7 -100.0


Total Single-Family Multi-Family

1,074 956 118

798 743 55

34.6 28.7 114.5

Available Labor Knox Co. Knoxville MSA Tennessee

14,630 25,630 274,070

15,890 27,360 292,050

18,250 30,770 324,190

-7.9 -6.3 -6.2

-19.8 -16.7 -15.5

5.7 6.3 8.1 8.4

6.1 6.6 8.5 8.7

7.0 7.5 9.5 9.2

-0.4 -0.3 -0.4 -0.3

-1.3 -1.2 -1.4 -0.8

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

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


Feb. ’11-‘12

March ’10-‘11

2.8 2.7

3.3 2.9

2.9 2.7

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


% Change Feb. ’11March ‘12

% Change March ’10March ‘12

-0.5 -0.2

-0.1 0.0

*South – City Size Class B/C

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

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

March 2012

Feb. 2012

March 2011

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

40,821,209 56,695,851 501,865,565

40,260,568 56,373,672 500,067,195

6.8 7.1 7.2

8.2 7.7 7.6

12,014,241 16,651,489

11,295,121 15,684,753

10,955,774 15,226,035

6.4 6.2

9.7 9.4

% Change March ’11March ‘12 7.4 12.4 12.5 -1.6 5.5 8.9 7.9 8.8 6.0 1.2 7.5 8.1 6.9 8.9

Local Sales Tax Knox Co. Knoxville MSA

% Change March ’11March ‘12

% Change Feb. ’12March ‘12


Passengers Cargo

Source: Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority

Source: Tennessee Dept. of Revenue

RETAIL SALES - NATIONAL (IN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS) Category Total Retail Sales Building Materials Clothing Stores Electronics & Appliances Food & Beverage Stores Food Svcs & Drinking Places Furniture & Home Furnishings Gasoline Stations General Merchandise Stores Health & Personal Care Stores Miscellaneous Stores Motor Vehicle & Parts Sales Non-store Retailers Sporting Goods/Books/ Hobby/Music

Dec. 2011 144,043 7,565,269

March 2012 424,121 27,578 20,343 8,128 52,923 45,549 8,310 48,345 53,084 24,140 10,225 82,150 35,822

Feb. 2012 379,160 20,487 17,871 8,008 49,259 41,146 7,466 42,112 49,306 22,860 9,929 70,313 33,921

March 2011 394,861 24,543 18,086 8,260 50,159 41,825 7,705 44,427 50,089 23,848 9,516 75,982 33,511

% Change Feb. ’12March ‘12 11.9 34.6 13.8 1.5 7.4 10.7 11.3 14.8 7.7 5.6 3.0 16.8 5.6





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


Nov. 2011 145,847 7,430,031

Dec. 2010 132,256 8,156,876

% Change Nov. ’11Dec. ‘11 -1.3 1.8

% Change Dec. ’10Dec. ‘11 8.9 -7.8

Innovation Valley’s Green Carpet Tour Showcases Region The Knoxville Chamber and Innovation Valley partners recently welcomed six site selection consultants to the area for a first-of-its-kind event, a Green Carpet Tour. Site selection consultants often work with expanding or relocating businesses, helping them determine where to build or relocate their next facility. With Knoxville recently being tapped by the Brookings Institution as the fastest growing region in the country for green jobs, the aptly named Green Carpet Tour focused on Innovation Valley’s assets, including accessibility to cutting-edge technology and innovation, as well as its workforce and education initiatives. “We really wanted to showcase all the resources the Innovation Valley has to offer expanding businesses, especially innovative ideas and technologies, so that when these consultants present a location to their clients, we are top of mind,” said Doug Lawyer, the vice president of economic development for the Knoxville Chamber. “We’ve heard great feedback from the consultants who attended. They were impressed with the access and information we provided over a threeday stretch.” The consultants arrived at various times on April 17 and gathered for a reception at Boyd’s Jig & Reel where they were welcomed by Innovation Valley board member Randy Boyd, president and CEO of Radio Systems. Following the reception, they enjoyed an authentic Knoxville dinner at Calhoun’s on the River while learning more about the assets of the Innovation Valley and its regional approach to economic development, as well as the various business park locations that are available. The group reconvened early Wednesday and traveled to Neyland Stadium where they were greeted by University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro and UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek who discussed the strategic alliance between UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the economic development assets it provides the region. Dr. David Millhorn also discussed the Cherokee Farm project, the university’s new innovation campus that is currently under construction. Representatives from the university also touted the solar, biofuels, and energy storage initiatives and research taking place on campus. Prior to leaving Neyland Stadium, the guests listened to area educators, including Knox County Schools Superintendent James McIntyre, L&N STEM Academy Principal Becky Ashe, Great Schools Partnership Executive Director Buzz Thomas, and Pellissippi State Executive Director of Business and Community Services Teri Brahams during a panel discussion on the educational assets the region offers. Scripps Networks hosted the group for a lunch that featured a CEO round-

table, allowing the consultants to hear from local business leaders about what they perceive as the advantages of doing business in the Innovation Valley. CEO’s in attendance included Dr. Tom Bogart, Doug Lawyer and site consultant Neale Rath enjoy the view at Neyland president Stadium. of Maryville College; Rick Johnson, executive vice president of Provision Healthcare; Jeff Potter, senior vice president of Tennova; and Pete Crowley, senior vice president of property development and facilities management for Scripps Networks. The setting was conversational and the consultants had many questions Christine Sullivan, of Ernst & Young speaks with NAI for the CEO’s, ranging from Knoxville’s Maribel Koella before breakfast at the the importance of tax incenUniversity of Tennessee. tives, to the quality of the workforce, to outsiders’ perceptions of the area. “We’re very reliant on getting the right people. We’ve found the right people in Knoxville,” Pete Crowley said. “The living environment is outstanding.” From there, the consultants toured Oak Ridge National Laboratory and met with ORNL’s Director, Dr. Thom Mason, before closing the day out with dinner with several local business leaders. The following morning the consultants met with Boyette Strategic Advisors, Innovation Valley Inc.’s consultants, in a facilitated discussion to get their impressions of the region before heading home.


Visionary Solutions Grows with Purchase of WestBridge Property A homegrown company and former tenant of the county’s small business incubator, Visionary Solutions, is proud to announce an expansion to the WestBridge Business Park in West Knox County. The company, a past winner of the Chamber’s Pinnacle Award for MinorityOwned Business Excellence, provides materials transport services for a number of clients in East Tennessee and currently employs approximately 78 people with plans to add more within the next 1½ years. Over the past 18 months, Visionary Solutions has worked with Doug Minter, the Knoxville Chamber’s business development manager, to find space that will allow his business to grow. “It’s herculean. We started out in a one-room incubator space and we moved into a 15,000 square foot space. Now we’ve got nine acres,” Cavanaugh Mims, Visionary Solutions founder and owner said. Visionary Solutions purchased 2553 Quality Lane, a piece of property in WestBridge Business Park. The space formerly housed the 84 Lumber Truss Plant and was privately held prior to the sale. The move is a great example of the Chamber’s on-going efforts to help existing businesses thrive in the Innovation Valley. Mims is anticipating the purchase will amount to more than $3 million in capital investment, with an initial investment of $1 million. As the corporate headquarters, Mims also anticipates a number of jobs will be added over the next several years as the move allows the company to triple its office space. “Cavanaugh and Visionary Solutions are the poster child for what we try to do when it comes to business retention and expansion at the Chamber,” Minter said. “Visionary Solutions has shown the dedication to not only start a business

Doug Minter, Dee Markelo, Cavanaugh Mims, and Teresa Sylvia stand outside Visionary Solutions new property in WestBridge Business Park

that delivers great value to its clients, the company is now giving back and helping other start-ups in the area.” A mentor in the Knoxville Chamber’s mentor/protégé program, Mims is sharing office space with Quality RX Returns, a protégé in the program. The Chamber’s mentor/protégé program pairs start-up business owners with established business leaders in the community. Since its inception three years ago, participants in the Chamber’s mentor/protégé program have seen more than $30 million in local economic impact and the creation of several dozen new jobs. The mentor/ protégé program is a component of the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley regional economic development initiative. “To whom much is given, much is required. Somebody had to help us get to where we are now. We’ve opened ourselves up to new opportunities and sometimes joint ventures can be a lot more opportunity than just going alone,” Mims said.

Rep. Bill Dunn Updates Members On Legislative Session Fountain City-based State Representative Bill Dunn came to the Knoxville Chamber with a message he doesn’t believe most Knoxville-area businesses have heard from mainstream media. “If you came here to hear about bills that deal with sex and guns, you’ll be sorely disappointed,” Dunn said. Instead, Dunn praised Governor Bill Haslam’s plan to revamp the state’s current civil service system. Currently, state employees are evaluated on both skills and seniority, but their length of service is weighed more heavily in those evaluations than their actual performance. The current system also leads to “bumping”, which occurs when an employee laid off from one department can transfer into a similar role in another department because of their seniority, and cause an employee in their new department to be laid off. “That doesn’t make sense and it’s not easy to manage state government when you have that going on,” Dunn said. “It’s like musical chairs with personnel.” Dunn also tackled something he admits is much more controversial: pre-K funding and availability in Tennessee. The Representative told the room of Chamber members he doesn’t believe another state-funded year of school before kindergarten is worth the nearly half billion-dollar investment it would require. Dunn pointed to what he considers a flawed study, done five decades ago with mostly low-income students, as a bad litmus test for what the results would be in a normal, more diverse school district. Other research indicates students who attend pre-K classes do better early in their academic careers but the effect

wears off about half way through their elementary education. “Pre-K has been sold as making monumental changes in Tennessee but we’re not seeing those sorts of results,” Dunn said. “I think a lot of the time in education we focus on input. In business, we focus on output. We go to sales meetings and say ‘what did we get by doing this?’” Dunn went on to outline three major educational stances he’d back. “I don’t want to just be against something,” he said. The first stance is something to get parents more involved. Dunn pointed to the state’s books from birth program and said he would stand behind a plan to get parents more active in the reading process with their children. The second is the state deciding what exactly “ready for kindergarten” means. Dunn said there may be a way to get the state’s population ready for kindergarten without having to spend $500 million. It could even be something like a summer program, using current teachers that would cost one-third of the price. The third stance is holding parents accountable. Dunn suggested there might be some support for not allowing children to start kindergarten until they have basic skills or are considered “kindergarten ready.” “Until we get parents involved, we can hold a child back in the third grade until he’s shaving and it won’t matter,” Dunn said. You can see Dunn’s entire presentation to the Chamber on the Knoxville Chamber’s YouTube channel at com/knoxvillechamber.



12 Big Ideas Advance to Quarterfinals

Alliance Sotheby’s International Realty

After sifting through dozens of applications, the Knoxville Chamber, Development Corporation of Knox County, Tech 20/20, and Rodefer Moss are proud to present this year’s quarterfinalists in the What’s the Big Idea!? Business Plan Competition.

THE 12 QUARTERFINALISTS ARE: Casenova Backpack - Innovative backpack design Dine Touch - Smartphone integration of the dining experience Energy Video Game - Energy awareness video game Games Plus - Mobile video game theater IdentID - Web based credentialing service to assist emergency responders Infinite Aero Solutions - Unmanned aerial vehicles for law enforcement agencies Line Shark - Professional audio output for mobile devices Megnetics - Shoe appearance alteration product Perpetual Inventory - Perpetual inventory counting device for high volume SKUs Squish - Silicon water bottle for easy travel and use Virtuous Products - “Sedonite” product for counter top industry and outdoor furniture industry Winning Diabetics - Multi-lingual diabetic network and affordable diabetic product brand Each quarterfinalist now advances to a series of courses led by community business leaders with a focus on developing an effective business plan that is ready to present to venture capitalists. At the conclusion of the competition, the winning business will be eligible to receive: • $10,000 cash grant for start-up costs • $15,000 potential equity investment by Oak Ridge National Laboratory & CROET • One-year’s rent at the Fairview Technology Center • Services provided by: Rodefer Moss & Company (accounting), CEO Advisors (business coaching), The IT Company & Digital Crossing Networks (IT hosting and services), Kathleen Zitzman (legal services), Knoxville Chamber (membership), and Tech2020 (business coaching)

Debbie Elliott-Sexton, owner of Alliance Sotheby’s International Realty has made real estate her career and passion because of the benefits of helping others.

Alliance Sotheby’s International Realty, owned by Debbie Elliott-Sexton, offers exclusive marketing, advertising, and referral services designed to attract well-qualified buyers to the firm’s property listings. In addition, the firm and its clients benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house, which promotes real estate referral opportunities with auction house clientele. “From the natural beauty of our lakes and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, to some of the nation’s best college athletics and state-of-the-art medical facilities, Knoxville has been recognized by many as a prime place to locate and grow a business,” said Elliott-Sexton. “Real estate is not just our job, it’s our passion. Our success has been founded on building lasting

relationships with our clients.” Alliance Sotheby’s International Realty offers real estate services to buyers and sellers in all price points. As careers and employment opportunities take clients to and from the region; Laura Kinzel, the Relocation Director, can assist with relocation needs. “Our luxury network helps connect the finest independent real estate companies to the most prestigious clientele in the world,” said Michael R. Good, chief executive officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. In February 2004, Realogy Corporation, a global provider of real estate and relocation services, entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Sotheby’s, the operator of the auction house. The agreement provided for the licensing of the Sotheby’s International Realty name and the development of a full franchise system by Realogy’s subsidiary, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. Realogy is recognized among the 2012 World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere® Institute, a leading international business ethics think-tank. Affiliations in the system are granted only to brokerages and individuals meeting strict qualifications. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC supports its affiliates with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational, and business development resources. Alliance Sotheby’s International Realty is located at 859 Ebenezer Road, Knoxville, TN 37923. For additional information, please call (865) 357-3232.


Bright Ideas: Getting Inside Your Customers’ Heads The best business decisions often come from having the best information about your customers so knowing how to ask what they want and need can better your bottom line. On June 20 the Knoxville Chamber is proud to host a Bright Ideas session focused on getting to know your customers through surveys and how to use them for maximum benefit.

Adam Weilbaecher, Ph.D. and Cynthia Hackney, Ph.D., from Impact Associates, will teach Chamber members how to design surveys, what to avoid, and how to evaluate your results to lead to increased sales and customer satisfaction. From 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Knoxville Chamber, Weilbaecher and Hackney will lead a conversation focused on making your customer surveys more effective. The opportunity is just $25 for Knoxville Chamber members and includes lunch.


MAY 8 New Member Orientation

4 – 6 p.m. • Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square

Sponsored by:

MAY 9 Premier Partner Event with featured Guest Dave Hart, Vice Chancellor and Athletic Director, University of Tennessee 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. • Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square, #201 Exclusive to Premier Partners Sponsored by:

MAY 11 Legislative Briefing with Rep. Harry Brooks

2012 Shrimp Boil Kicks Off Political Season It’s more than just a networking get-together, it’s a humdinger’ of an event that’s sure to get your mouth watering and toes tappin’. Join us for a backslapping, shake-n-howdy like no other when the Chamber hosts the 4th annual shrimp boil on Thursday, June 21 from 5:00 – 7:30 p.m. at Hunter Valley Farm in West Knoxville. Regal Entertainment Group is the entertainment sponsor. The shrimp boil will feature great food, music, and top business and community leaders. State legislators, members of the U.S. Congressional delegation, local elected officials, and local candidates have all been invited to attend. The Shrimp Boil is well known around town as an excellent opportunity to jaw with politicians as well as other businesspeople. Peelin’, Eatin’, and Politickin’ is hosted by The Pavilion at Hunter Valley Farm, 9111 Hunter Valley Lane in West Knox County. This fantastic setting will once again add to the event’s unique flair. Casual attire is strongly encouraged! In fact, if you show up in a tie, you might get hog-tied. Cost for attending the event is $25 per Chamber member and $35 for non-members and includes admission, food, and a limited number of beverages. To register please call the Chamber’s events hotline at (865) 2462622 or visit the online events calendar at


7:30 – 8:30 a.m. • Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square, #201 Sponsored by:

MAY 15 Business After Hours 5 – 7 p.m. • UT Gardens, off of Neyland Drive Sponsored by:

MAY 16 Bright Ideas Seminar: What Every Business Owner Should Know About Intellectual Property Presented by: Peter Brewer, Baker Donelson 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. • Knoxville Chamber, 17 Market Square, #201 $25 for members and $35 for non-members (boxed lunch included)

May 2012 Commerce  
May 2012 Commerce  

The Knoxville Chamber's monthly newsletter featuring business news and more in East Tennessee.