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Weekend edition February 16, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

Knoxville business owners navigate opportunities and challenges in 2024

Knoxville companies are looking for innovative ways to embrace new technologies in the workplace this year.

The Knoxville Chamber’s monthly Economic Outlook report serves as a barometer for the vitality of the Knoxville business landscape. The January edition, released earlier this week, shows a mixture of promise and adversity, offering insights into the prospects and pitfalls awaiting entrepreneurs and businesses in the city and county.

The Chamber asked business owners to share their perceived opportunities and challenges this year as it pertains to business operations. Unsurprisingly, owners reported the biggest category of growth opportunity is embracing innovative technologies in the workplace. Most business owners are eyeing technological advancements as a gateway to progress in 2024. Other realms of opportunity cited by business owners are newfound abilities to analyze market dynamics, streamline operations, and enhance customer satisfaction.

However, beneath the surface of excitement also comes the worry about the ongoing workforce shortage, which remains a significant barrier to growth in the region. Other challenges range from housing and childcare availability to rising costs, increased competition, and worries about a possible economic downturn.

Looking at the job market, unemployment rates in Knoxville and Knox County have dropped slightly from November to December 2023.

For December, there were 8,944 unique active job postings in the Knoxville MSA (up 14.2% from November and up 12.2% from last December.) There were 5,663 unique active job postings in Knox County (up 6.7% from November and up 67.4% from this time last year.) The labor shortage continues to impact our city’s ability to fill these positions. Most job openings came from consistently understaffed sectors, including healthcare, retail, manufacturing, finance, and education.

The area is also experiencing a slow season for new business licenses. The number of people who applied for a business license dipped in December 2023 compared to November, but showed growth compared to December 2022. Sectors like services, retail, construction, and non-classified establishments saw notable increases.

A total of 100 new business licenses were issued in December 2023 compared to 177 in November and 79 in December 2022. The top industry sectors for which business licenses were issued in December 2023 were services, retail, non-classified establishments, and construction.

As Knoxville businesses move forward in 2024, they’ll need to find ways to address these challenges, seize opportunities, and work together to ensure the local economy remains strong and resilient.

You can read more highlights from the monthly report at this link.

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