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Calling all makers! “The Maker City Summit” returns to Knoxville this weekend

By Shannon Smith, Teknovation Assistant Editor, PYA

Make a living doing what you love.

That’s The Maker City’s tagline, and something the group strives to help business owners do in Knoxville. Since being dubbed “The Maker City” in 2016, Knoxville makers and leaders have poured resources into helping creatives grow their businesses in and around Knox County.

They provide networking and educational resources all year long, but the big event makers anticipate every year is the annual “Maker City Summit,” making its return to Knoxville September 16-18.

“The purpose of the summit is to bring inspiration to our maker community, to build that maker community, and to educate maker businesses,” said Courtney Hendricks, Director of Maker Initiatives with The Maker City.

This year’s summit, which will be the seventh annual event but the first full-scale one since the pandemic, will feature 30 speakers, panel discussions, breakout sessions, one-on-one mentorship, food from all-local vendors, and even the option to get a professional headshot taken.

“What we really wanted to do this year was include as many different makers as we possibly could,” said Hendricks.

Whether you’re ready to meet a bunch of new people or prefer to take in information and keep to yourself, the summit has something for every type of maker.

“There are aspects of the event that are geared towards people that are more introverted and then
other elements that are geared towards people that are more extroverted. Hopefully, everybody in attendance will come away from the weekend inspired and having learned something new to help them grow their business,” said Hendricks.

She said the team is anticipating about 300 people to attend the summit, which will be at the Maker Exchange located inside the Marriott Knoxville and Tennessean Hotels in World’s Fair Park.

“Currently, there are 61 percent of attendees that are first timers to the Summit. It is great to see our community expanding,” said Hendricks.

And it reflects how more and more makers are starting businesses in Knoxville or bringing them here from other places.

“I have had several people tell me that they moved to Knoxville specifically because it is ‘The Maker City,’ which is really exciting to hear,” said Hendricks.

This year, the summit also serves as the kickoff event to Innov865 Week, which is a weeklong celebration of Knoxville’s entrepreneurial spirit. Previously more start-up focused, Innov865 week is adding a maker track to its series of workshops and panel events this year.

“It helps broaden the community,” said Hendricks. “We are ‘The Maker City.’ We make efforts to support and build the creative culture of the city. Additionally, much of the programming we offer is small business education. Being connected with Innov865 Week, it makes sense to interweave these audiences.”

All these events start with the Summit Soiree on Friday, September 16, kicking off both “The Maker City Summit” and Innov865 Week. That event is open to all.

If you’d like to attend the rest of the summit, tickets are required and can be purchased in advance here.

View the entire schedule and the list of featured speakers here.

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