ORNL honors local small business partners and more Knoxville business 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

ORNL honors small business partners

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) held its “2021 Small Business Awards Ceremony” earlier this week, honoring the exceptional performance of four businesses and one employee for their support of the lab. A news release from ORNL said the lab allocated 53 percent of its subcontracting funds to small businesses for a total of nearly $400 million.

“ORNL takes pride in the partnerships we have formed with small businesses locally, regionally, and nationally,” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia. “Each company we work with helps to ensure our success in delivering cutting-edge science and technology for the nation’s benefit.”

This year’s winners were: ORNL Procurement Officer Stacey Johnson, PVM, Schmiede Corporation, CTI, and Materials Engineering and Testing Corporation. Learn more about the four businesses here.

Stowers Machinery named “Supplier of the Year”

Stowers Machinery Corporation, the family-owned business that was founded in 1960 and featured in two of the early editions of Teknovation Weekend (see Part 1 and Part 2), has been honored as “Supplier of the Year” in the most recent “Build Knoxville Awards” from the local chapter of Associated General Contractors. In a social media post, Lisa Rottman, General Manager of Marketing and Strategy, wrote: “Our team has had the privilege of serving East Tennessee for 61 years, and we could not be more grateful for the trust our customers place in us as they build East Tennessee.”

UScellular announces $96.3 million network investment in Tennessee

Teknovation Weekend readers will remember our feature last Saturday on UScellular. The company recently announced it had made an investment of $96.3 million in 2021 on its Tennessee network. The work included general network upgrades, 5G modernizations, and a 5G spectrum. In addition to investing in the network, a news release from the company said it had given around $43,000 to Tennessee nonprofits, teachers, and youth organizations, as well as $893,000 in state retail environments.

Knoxville named second best city to live in for young professionals by GOBankingRates

GOBankingRates recently released its “6 Best Cities to Live in for Young Professionals,” looking at the 100 largest U.S. cities where “Gen Z can live well on a budget.” The top six cities have a balance of livability, affordability, and career opportunity. First on the list was Raleigh. North Carolina’s Triangle made the list in part as the second-fastest growing tech hub in the country. For Knoxville, affordable cost of living and tax benefits helped it gain its #2 ranking. The Knoxville Chamber’s Talent Retention and Attraction Task Force also got a special mention. Learn more here.

New business and developments

The Brass Pearl, an oyster bar and seafood restaurant, has opened on Market Square for reservation dining. The restaurant eventually plans to add drop-in and carry-out options. Read more in this Inside of Knoxville article.

SVN Wood Properties purchased the building at 119 West Fifth Ave. Also known as the Swift Building, it will be the new business location for the company. The building also houses Craft Axe Throwing. The property was built in 1936. Learn more in this Inside of Knoxville article.

The former Concourse and International buildings at 940 Blackstock Avenue have been purchased. The new owners plan to host a concert series in the two-acre parking lot on the site. The concerts would start in September. Learn more in this Inside of Knoxville article.

Seven cabinet agencies release supply chain reports

Agencies including the Departments of Defense and Energy, have released reports assessing vulnerabilities of and strengthening American supply chains. The reports were released on the one-year anniversary of an executive order from the White House directing an “all-of-government” approach on the assessments. The reports identify key weaknesses in crucial supply chains and give multi-year strategies to address them, according to a news release from the White House. Find the news release, reports, and a capstone report from the White House, here.

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