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October 03, 2021 | Tom Ballard

RGK’s progress, selection of national firm to lead LaunchTN CEO search, and award to ARCS Aviation top our weekly news and notes

Topping our news and notes wrap-up from last week is a great graphic that Ayumi Bennett did for Bailey Foster and Real Good Kitchen (RGK) to show the progress at the shared kitchen and food entrepreneurship hub since its opening in early January. Located on Magnolia Avenue just a few blocks east of Downtown Knoxville, RGK is a passion for Foster who noted in an email last week that three businesses used the facility on its first day of operation. Now, there are 30 member companies. In typical fashion, she notes that “The real victories . . . are the ones that we celebrate every day with our members – the courage they show, the new recipes and processes they develop, all the markets they attend, the challenges and mistakes they overcome.”

There are a number of other highlights from the week.

  • Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN) has selected executive search firm Stanton Chase as its consultant and administrator as the non-profit searches for its next President and Chief Executive Officer. The decision was made after the organization reviewed several proposals in response to LaunchTN’s public request for proposals. “We believe Stanton Chase brings several very essential aspects to this important search, including a combination of deep Tennessee roots and a national network that extends into Silicon Valley, Boston and Austin, a diverse and experienced search team, extensive executive search experience in the nonprofit and economic development arenas, along with best-in-class tools and processes,” said Search Committee Chair Bruce Doeg in this news release.
  • Local Entrepreneur Tanika Harper has been named as the recipient of the “2021 Notable Woman” award by the Knoxville Association of Women Executives. She is Founder and President of Shora Foundation and The Women Foundation and the owner of Elite Facility Maintenance and Harper’s Naturals. On the civic side, she is Chair of the “Maker City Summit” that just concluded its annual event as well as being a member of the Board of Directors of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce.
  • Cookeville-headquartered Aviation Resources and Consulting Services LLC, better known as ARCS Aviation, has announced the signing of a formal contract with the U.S. Department of the Air Force involving the merger of two technologies that the company has worked with in the past: non-destructive inspection (NDI) and augmented reality (AR). According to the announcement, the contract has two primary elements to make it a success. First, data from the NDI testing equipment will overlay on a head-up display (HUD). Second, the data will be stored, saved, recalled, and presented on a 3D display, increasing maintainers’ probability of defect detection while making the overall process safer and more efficient.
  • Pathway Lending, based in Nashville but founded in Oak Ridge, has secured a $1 million grant from the “Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund” to expand its “Flex Fund,” a new source of “patient” growth capital for minority-and woman-owned businesses in key markets across Tennessee, including Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville. Click here to read more.
  • A Nashville start-up that “empowers cancer patients with their data” was one of three new ventures that took home grant prizes after the 12th-annual “took home grant prizes after the 12th-annual “Startup Runway,” an Atlanta showcase that connects investors to underrepresented founders. Founders Jessica Thurmond and Monica Schmiede won software company Unqork’s grant for their cancer treatment start-up Athelo Health Inc.
  • There’s been a passing of the leadership baton at Local Motors which prints its iconic Olli electronic autonomous shuttle in a plant in West Knoxville. Jay Rogers, Co-Founder and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, will transition to an advisory role as Non-Executive Vice Chairman. Current President and Chief Operating Officer Vikrant Aggarwal will become the company’s Chief Executive Officer. As President, Vikrant scaled the growth of the Olli 2.0 platform both commercially and operationally. Click here to read more about the changes.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has launched a new “Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize that will award up to $2.5 million in cash prizes to groups and organizations that support entrepreneurship and innovation in communities historically underserved in climate and energy technology funding. More details can be found here.
  • Built Technologies, a Nashville-based construction finance platform, raised $125 million in a Series D funding round that valued it at $1.5 billion. The company provides cloud-based construction finance technology that connects commercial and consumer construction lenders, property developers, commercial general contractors, residential homebuilders, specialty contractors, title companies, and other critical industry vendors to improve the flow of capital through the construction ecosystem.
  • Another Nashville company – Wayspring, formerly axialHealthcare, has raised $75 million in funding. The company will use the capital to scale its value-based care solution, a full-risk medical home model for substance use disorder.

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