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Weekend edition September 23, 2022 | Kailyn Lamb

Cirrus Aircraft plans new innovation center in Minnesota

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a roundup of business news from throughout the Knoxville region. If you have some business news that you would like to be included in Teknovation Weekend, please email us at

Cirrus Aircraft announces new innovation center

Cirrus Aircraft, which has its ever-expanding Vision Center Campus at the Knoxville Airport, has announced plans to develop the Duluth Innovation Center at its headquarters in Minnesota following the company’s recent acquisition of the former Northwest Airlines Corporation facility located at the Duluth International Airport in Minnesota. According to this news release, Cirrus Aircraft will invest heavily to transform the 189,000-square-foot building on 39 acres into a state-of-the-art Innovation Center where engineers will develop the next generation of Cirrus aircraft. The Duluth Innovation Center will feature amenities and flexible workspaces that enhance the working environment as people return to the office. Inspired interior features and design provide optimal collaborative workspace and break from the traditional office and lab environment.

“Doubling down with a massive facility such as this underscores our relentless pursuit of continuous innovation that makes owning and operating a Cirrus safe, convenient, and easy,” said Zean Nielsen, Chief Executive Officer of Cirrus Aircraft. “We are a company of big ideas such as putting a parachute on every Cirrus aircraft, designing and building a single engine Jet, introducing Safe Return Autoland, rolling out Cirrus IQ connectivity, and offering a 360-degree ecosystem around the customer. This investment solidifies Cirrus Aircraft’s commitment to continuous innovation. We want talent to think of Cirrus Aircraft, Duluth, and now the new Innovation Center as a special place where the latest and greatest general aviation technologies come to life. The Innovation Center is designed to become the epicenter for personal aviation engineering and to attract top talent from around the world.”

Advance Knox has two input sessions coming up in October

Advance Knox, the effort to define a vision and create a plan that will guide growth, land use, transportation, economic prosperity, and quality of life in Knox County, is having a general input session on October 4. Later, on October 12, there will be another input session for young professionals. The first session, which will be held at the Knoxville Chamber, will start at 8 a.m. Register here. The second session will be held at the Knoxville Area Association of Realtor’s office at 12 p.m. and lunch will be provided. Register here. Both events are being put on in partnership with the Chamber.

UT Baker Center launches new podcast

Earlier this month, The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, launched “You Might Be Right,” a new podcast featuring former Tennessee Governors Phil Bredesen and Bill Haslam. The podcast name came from a quote by Baker and is inspired by his ability to cross party lines, listen, and learn, according to a news release. The series aims to facilitate civil conversations on tough topics.

The first episode launched on September 14. Learn more here.

Excelerate America Fall Grant applications open

Businesses dedicated to helping their local communities are eligible to apply for the 2022 Fall Grant from Excelerate America in partnership with ODP Business Solutions. The grand prize is $15,000. Applications are open until September 30. Learn more and apply here.

New Businesses

A new natural wine bar is coming to North Central Street. The owners hope to open Zero/Zero in the former Folly Boutique location in November. Zero/Zero comes from a wine term indicating no yeast or sulfites have been added to the wine as it has been fermented and bottled, a subset of natural wines. Learn more in this Inside of Knoxville article.

Also on North Central Street, Wicked Hubz, an electric bike store opened there earlier this month. The shop sells fat-tire models that can go around 28 miles per hour. In addition to bike sales, the store offers bike repairs and maintenance. Learn more in this Inside of Knoxville article.

U.S. Chamber and MetLife release Small Business Index for third quarter

Almost all business owners surveyed (90 percent) said they were concerned with how inflation would impact their business. The report, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife, found that of those, 54 percent are very concerned, a sharp increase from 31 percent in the first quarter report. Half of the owners surveyed said inflation is the biggest challenge facing small businesses right now. Around 70 percent said the worst is yet to come.

“In recent quarters, there has been optimism from small businesses who still felt good about how their business is doing,” said Tom Sullivan, Vice President of Small Business Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “However, inflation is really hitting small business hard, and that reality is negatively impacting their confidence, their ability to hire, invest in their businesses, and grow.”

Read the full report here.

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