Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
Weekend edition March 18, 2022 | Kailyn Lamb

ATC Drivetrain to build Knoxville manufacturing facility and other local business news

(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

ATC Drivetrain to establish manufacturing operations in Knoxville, bringing more than 200 jobs

Earlier this week, Governor Bill Lee, along with Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and officials from ATC Drivetrain, announced the company would be building its newest manufacturing facility in Knoxville. ATC Drivetrain will invest $8.3 million in the facility and create 218 manufacturing jobs over the next five years. The company is a leading global independent remanufacturer of automotive powertrain and drivetrain systems. It offers original equipment manufacturers a local option for like new transmissions and engines using state-of-the-art equipment and progressive engineering, according to a news release. This will be the company’s third manufacturing facility in the United States.

“Our customers are the focus of all we do at ATC Drivetrain. This expansion is driven by increased demand from our customers, and the Knox County location is particularly well suited for our future plans as Tennessee, and the broader region, are home to a rapidly developing electrification ecosystem,” said Greg Heald, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ATC Drivetrain. “We greatly appreciate the State of Tennessee’s support with this expansion.”

Learn more here.

East Tennessee PBS receives funds for TVA workforce initiative

East Tennessee PBS (ETPBS) announced it would be a partner in a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) initiative with a project called “Building the Future of East Tennessee’s Workforce: Creating Pathways for Early Learners to the Skills, Jobs, and Opportunities in Our Region.” The project is being considered for funding through TVA’s Connected Communities initiative. The project will share $3 million in grant funding in 2022 and 2023. The goal of East Tennessee PBS’ workforce project is to connect early learners with information about jobs, skills, and opportunities in the region through a series of engaging videos. The media nonprofit will work with production partner Land Grant Films to increase awareness of vocational and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers among K-8 students.

“We are thrilled to partner with TVA on this important work,” said Barbara Shipley, ETPBS Chief Development/Marketing Officer, who will serve as lead on this project. “For more than 50 years, East Tennessee PBS has been a trusted partner in our community, and these funds will allow us to work closely with community partners like the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, ORNL, Knoxville Chamber, and more to make a very real impact on issues our community faces today and into the future.”

Learn more here.

Knoxville Chamber to host “The World’s Fair Meant Business” webinar

Panelists Don Freeman, Chairman Emeritus of Rentenbach Construction; Cathy Ackermann, President and CEO of Ackermann Marketing & PR; and Alex Widmer, Director of Operations at Petro’s Chili and Chips will discuss how the 1982 World’s Fair impacted the Knoxville business community. The lead story in today’s Teknovation Weekend is about Ackermann’s start in PR, and readers will also remember our story interviewing Widmer about Petro’s. The Chamber webinar is on April 13 at 9 a.m. Learn more here.

New Businesses

Potchke Deli opened on North Gay Street earlier this week. The deli offers Kosher-style foods with a personal twist from owners Emily Williams and Laurence Faber. The latter has experience working as a chef in restaurants operated by Blackberry Farm. The idea for the deli first came around when Williams began baking babka and selling it on Instagram. The food at Potchke is inspired by Faber’s Ukrainian-Jewish heritage, according to an article from Inside of Knoxville.

New Hires

The Christman Company has hired Kenneth Keel as a Superintendent for the firm’s Knoxville office. Keel is currently working on improvement projects for the Public Building Authority as it is adapted for use by the University of Tennessee system and Knox County Schools. Keel previously worked as a Superintendent at Mitch Cox Companies in Johnson City.

“With nearly 18 years of industry experience, Kenneth’s experience in a variety of construction environments is an asset to our team and clients,” said Marty Gibbs, Senior Vice President and General Manager for The Christman Company’s operations in Knoxville.

Pilot Company launches in-store fundraiser for Ukraine relief

Pilot Company is raising funds for Save the Children, a global humanitarian organization working to meet the urgent needs of children and their families in Ukraine and the surrounding region. More than 650 company-operated travel centers will allow customers to round-up eligible purchases to the nearest whole dollar as a donation to Save the Children’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund. The fundraiser goes through April 3. Along with the donated funds, Pilot Company will match donations up to $100,000.

Like what you've read?

Forward to a friend!

Don’t Miss Out on the Southeast’s Latest Entrepreneurial, Business, & Tech News!

Sign-up to get the Teknovation Newsletter in your inbox each morning!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No, thanks!