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March 16, 2017 | Tom Ballard

Finalists announced for inaugural Paradigm Challenge focused on East Knoxville

Knoxville Area Urban LeagueThe Knoxville Area Urban League (KAUL) has announced the 10 finalists for its inaugural Paradigm Challenge program that we spotlighted in this article last August.

As one of the inaugural recipients of a grant through Launch Tennessee’s Creative Communities initiative, KAUL has crafted a laser-focused program with a simple focus: grow new job opportunities in East Knoxville.

TC Carter, KAUL’s Director of Economic and Business Development, explained in the August article that this part of Knoxville “is an area of the city that has struggled – like many communities nationwide – with disinvestment. Community residents have expressed a need for employment opportunities within walking distances of neighborhoods in East Knoxville.”

To make as sustainable an impact as possible, KAUL recruited a team of collaborators to help with the Paradigm Challenge including the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, Knoxville Chamber and its Propel program, Tennessee Small Business Development Center, and Greater Knoxville SCORE chapter.

These organizations are helping the 10 teams refine their business plans in advance of a public unveiling of their ideas set for 10 a.m. June 17 at the Eternal Harvest Life Center East Campus, 2410 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Carter says the preparation, using tools such as CO.STARTERS, and the June 17 event are focused on a specific area – East Knoxville and specific industry sectors – healthcare, specifically access to primary and urgent care services; retail and light manufacturing; and technology such as software development and multi-media.

The 10 entrepreneurs and a brief summary of their businesses are as follows:

  • Skyler O’Dell, True Patient Assistance – This is a non-medical home healthcare group that goes above and beyond to ensure clients receive the highest quality of care during their healing and recovery. The company plans to provide a variety of personalized.
  • Mabrey Duff, Community Dry Cleaning and Alterations – This is a drop dry-cleaning and alterations operation with a training component included.
  • Jervis Brown, Brown Bag Productions – The plan is a start-up providing a full range of video-related services including pre-production consulting, production, post-production editing, and video placement. Brown also will be offering writing, acting, and editing classes for youth and other individuals aspiring to advance in the video production field.
  • Lakesha Jones, The TeaSpot – She us planning a mobile tea shop offering hot herbal teas as well as cold sweetened flavored teas, delectable pastries, and bulk tea items for customers to enjoy at home.
  • Tauheedah Duvall, Soul Food Sea Food Restaurant – Her idea is spawned by an inability to find a good fried fish restaurant in East Knoxville and sees her business as bringing back to life Knoxville’s African American Culture.
  • Joy Gaetner, Walking with Joy – This is a ministry to the broken-hearted that supports individuals to be able to live with hearts healed, lives transformed, and relationships restored as they gain emotional, relational and spiritual freedom.
  • Brandon Hardin, Joyce Development LLC – As noted in this previous article, he is developing the Command Glove™, a device worn on the hand and embedded with contact switches that can easily control electronic devices by the natural movements of the wearer’s fingers.
  • Britnie Davis, Britnie’s Balloon Bonanza – She wants to open a full retail storefront for the balloon decor business she started in May 2016.
  • Mitch Downey, MEDTalk – He visualizes a turnkey system allowing a patient to talk to a doctor via a Lifesize & FullBody (Head to Toe) TeleMedicine system. The concept calls for a small “Clinic” which would allow East Knoxville resident to consult remotely with physicians without having to travel out of their neighborhood.
  • Tanika Harper, Harper’s Naturals – This is a hair and skin care company with a particular focus on individuals who have experienced health challenges and need a way to lessen the risk of disease and illness. The target client base would include, but not limited to, cancer survivors in remission, people with auto immune diseases, those suffering from eczema and dry skin, customers seeking anti-aging products, or individuals looking to help prevent those illnesses.

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