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Weekend edition October 28, 2023 | Katelyn Keenehan

Knoxville Urban League honors minority-owned businesses

Green Home Installations, LLC, was recognized as the Minority-owned Business of the Year.

The Knoxville Area Urban League (KAUL) celebrated an evening of recognition and inspiration at their 33rd annual Equal Opportunity Awards Gala on Thursday. The event honored exceptional individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the community.

It was also Dr. Charles Lomax’s first gala as the President and CEO of KUAL.

“Our organization has been around for 55 years. And so, we’re celebrating that tonight. This event is an opportunity to recognize those that are making strides within the community, in a number of different areas,” Lomax said.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Whitney M. Young Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award, bestowed posthumously to the late Thomas Edward “Tank” Strickland. This prestigious accolade was accepted on his behalf by his wife, Terry Strickland, in recognition of Tank Strickland’s lifelong commitment to the values and mission of the Urban League. He was one of Knoxville’s longest-serving Black elected officials, serving in both the Knox County Commission and as the city of Knoxville’s community relations director. Notably, he also oversaw critical initiatives such as the Police Advisory and Review Committee, Title VI and Equal Business Opportunity Programs, and the Save Our Sons program.

Corporate Leadership Award

Knoxville Area Urban League Gala.

Truist, a company committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, received the Corporate Leadership Award. This accolade acknowledges entities that have demonstrated sensitivity to diversity, employment trends, and support for the Urban League’s mission. Angela Conner, senior vice president and community development manager, accepted the award on behalf of Truist.

The company has been a long-time partner of the Urban League. Loamx said Truist has helped fund several programs that not only benefit minority business owners but also the community.

“Those investments tie back into our local economy because it’s going to produce and provide jobs, those funds are going to be spent here locally, and it’s a win-win situation for our community,” Lomax said.

Minority Business of the Year

Green Home Installations, LLC, was recognized as the Minority Business of the Year. The award celebrates a minority-owned business making a notable economic and social impact on the community. Managing partners Robert Barnett and Justin Garner, along with senior project manager Justin Gonzales, accepted the award on behalf of their company. Green Home Installations, LLC, has experienced rapid growth, with demand for environmentally responsible construction on the rise. The company completed numerous projects since 2018, generating $10.2 million in annual gross revenue in 2022 and expanding its team to serve three states.

“I think that their company is a testament to what you can do if you have a vision and if you have support behind you,” Lomax said. “I’m hopeful that we will be able to produce more companies like that. We can take entrepreneurs with nothing more than a dream or a vision and help to give them the tools, resources, and skills to scale their businesses.”

Volunteer of the Year

The event also named Dr. Craig Pickett the “Volunteer of the Year.” He is the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, and has actively invested in youth and young professional development.

Lomax expressed his enthusiasm for the awardees and their contributions, stating, “Each one embodies the values of the Urban League, championing diversity, inclusion, and equity for all.”


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