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April 24, 2013 | Tom Ballard

Hawks updates “Hot Topic” attendees on Cherokee Farm

CherokeeFarm_horiz_gray_lowresCliff Hawks used yesterday’s “Hot Topic Networking Lunch” at Tech 20/20 as his “first opportunity to speak publicly about Cherokee Farm,” the University of Tennessee’s (UT) Innovation Campus.

The recently named President and Chief Executive Officer of Cherokee Farm Development Corporation was profiled by in a February article that is available at

“I want to be sure everyone understands what we have to offer,” Hawks said of the research and development site. “Our mission is to enhance the University’s ability to promote economic development.”

During the presentation, he reviewed the vision for the 188-acre park, its distinguishing features, and several recent developments.

  • Cherokee has seven pads currently available for development, and Hawks expects 88 of the 188 acres to be used when the land is fully developed.
  • The site was recently rezoned from agricultural to with a technology overlay and provisions that will allow for some retail and a hotel.
  • A $40 million infrastructure investment project that brought water, sewer, electricity and roads to the site is now complete.

Hawks used two institutional sites as examples of what UT hopes to accomplish with Cherokee Farm. One is North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus, the other is at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. Both house between 70 and 90 private companies whose employees interact with university researchers and students.

The always upbeat Hawks cited several factors that “set us apart.” One is clearly the high visibility location on Alcoa Highway adjacent to the Tennessee River and across from the UT Medical Center. Others include the relationship with UT and Oak Ridge national Laboratory and the new Joint Institute for Advanced Materials that is under construction.

Acknowledging that materials  is a natural area that will help attract private companies to the park, Hawks told the attendees that he wanted to explore opportunities in many areas. “We are not focused on one particular technology,” he said in answer to a question.

Cherokee Farm also has a new website at

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