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Teknovation News and Notes
March 17, 2024 | Tom Ballard

News & Notes | Johnson City resident named Tennessee’s “Small Business Person of the Year”

In addition, there are a number of events coming up in the next few weeks across the state.

From Washington, DC but Also About Johnson City:

Craig Charles, Owner of Crown Cutz Academy which includes two barber schools in the Appalachian areas of Tennessee and Virginia, has been recognized as the “Small Business Person of the Year” for Tennessee. The recognition came from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

In 2017, Craig opened his first barber school, a location in downtown Johnson Cit with the help
of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC). In 2020, his entrepreneurial journey continued with TSBDC assistance and Craig expanded to a second location in Bristol, VA.

Since Craig opened his first barber school, he’s established himself as a figure in the barbering community and an advocate for mental health and domestic violence awareness. Craig also serves as a barber ambassador for the Confess Project of America, where he travels across the country training barbers about mental health and domestic violence awareness.

From Cookeville:

Tennessee Technological University is hosting a webinar at 2 p.m. EDT March 21 where it will present the rural charging infrastructure initiative that is part of an ongoing large U.S. Department of Energy-funded electric vehicle community project, known as Rural Reimagined.

During the webinar, attendees will  receive information regarding how to become an EV charging station site host in the Rural Reimagined project.

To register for the free one-hour session, click here.

From Nashville:

Kevin Roddey, Senior Vice President at Pinnacle Financial Partners, and Jon Eisen, Vice President of Lending at Pathway Lending, will lead a 90-minute session for the Nashville Entrepreneur Center titled “Growing Your Own Business Through Debt.” Lunch will be provided for the event that begins with 30 minutes of networking at 11:30 a.m. CDT on April 2 at the Center, 41 Peabody Street. To register, click here.

From Memphis:

The third edition of Launch Tennessee‘s “Innovator Day” will be held on March 21 at the University of Memphis.

As have the two previous editions – one at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville and the other during the recent “Innovation Week” that spotlighted Tennessee State University, this one will include a discussion about the new Tennessee Technology Advancement Consortium, a presentation from the Mid-South I-Corps Hub, and quick pitches from faculty innovators and researchers from the Patents to Product Fellowship Program at the University.

To register, click here.

From Knoxville:

The University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute (UT-ORII) will be hosting its inaugural Research Symposium April 15 and 16 in the Student Union on the UT, Knoxville campus. Both days will include presentations from UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers who have received funding from the UT-ORII and/or the Science Alliance over the past three years, since UT-ORII’s launch in 2021. There will also be lunchtime student poster sessions.

An agenda and more details can be found here.

Also from Knoxville:

Eric Dobson, Managing Partner at Community Equity Partners (CEP), announced last week that CEP led a new round of capital that has just closed for Sparkz Inc. The energy storage start-up announced in February 2020 that it had licensed five technologies from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and again in February 2021 that it had exclusively licensed a battery cycling technology designed to enable the rapid production of lithium-ion batteries commonly used in portable electronic devices and electric vehicles.

In addition to leading the round, Dobson also announced that he was joining the start-up’s Board of Directors and teased that Sparkz will soon hold a ribbon cutting for its first manufacturing facility. The next facility is expected to be placed in Southern or Middle Appalachia.


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