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Weekend edition November 05, 2021 | Kailyn Lamb

MetLife surveys women looking to return to the workforce and other regional news

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a roundup of business news from throughout the Knoxville region. If you have some business news that you would like to be included in Teknovation Weekend, please email us at

Women in STEM

A new survey from MetLife shows a majority of women are ready to return to the workforce after leaving for childcare during the pandemic. Of the women surveyed, 63 percent said they were looking to return, but interestingly, eight in 10 of those women are interested in a new career in the science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields. MetLife is calling this the “Great Reevaluation.”

“We’ve reached a critical inflection point in the workplace where women are evaluating their careers in a new light,” said Bill Pappas, Executive Vice President and Head of Global Technology and Operations at MetLife. “It’s more important than ever that organizations—particularly those in STEM—offer the solutions that help women succeed.”

MetLife also surveyed women on what factors encouraged them to look into STEM fields, such as dedicated training, flexibility, diversity, and more. Learn more about the survey here.


Marble City Market, Knoxville’s first food hall, opened on Depot Street this week. The hall features 11 restaurants, a bar, and two Top Golf Suites. Learn more about Marble City and its vendors here.

Executive Leadership

Knoxville-based Inhabit IQ announced in a news release earlier this week that Blake Hankins has joined the organization as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Edward James has been appointed the new Chief Financial Officer (CFO). James is succeeding Bill Roselli, who is taking over CFO duties for another company under the Inhabit IQ umbrella.

The newly created CIO position will enable Hankins to work across the enterprise to drive initiatives and infrastructure enhancing internal technology. James will partner with the leadership team at Inhabit as the CFO to maximize business objectives and strengthen the company’s long-term growth.

“Eddie and Blake are well-rounded executives whose experience extends beyond their primary functional areas,” said Inhabit Chief Executive Officer, Lisa Stinnett. “Their understanding of all facets of business operations will produce transformative results as Inhabit continues to grow, delivering innovative solutions for customers and enhanced value for shareholders.”


Inside of Knoxville reported that Sweetbriar Boutique plans to close its brick-and-mortar location in the Old Sevier neighborhood by the end of the year. The clothing store opened in January 2020. Sweetbriar will then transition into an online-only business. Read more here.

SBA News

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced last week that the agency had given out $44.8 billion in funding for fiscal year 2021.

“The SBA continues to make headway in helping small businesses access much-needed capital, but much more work remains to be done,” said Patrick Kelley, Associate Administrator for the Office of Capital Access in a news release. “Our flexible, low-interest 504 loan program grew in loan volume by 41 percent, and the SBA team is already at work for fiscal year 2022 to support job and entrepreneurial growth across the country.”

The news release also said the SBA has made it a priority to increase access to capital for small business owners, particularly those from underserved communities. The organization provided $36.5 billion in funding through 7(a) loans, $8.2 billion in funding through the 504 loan program, and $71.8 million in microloans.

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