Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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November 20, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Pausing of annual “CodeStock” conference tops this week’s “News & Notes” feature

This week’s “News & Notes” feature includes: (1) a longstanding Knoxville tech conference calling a “pause audible” for 2023; (2) a Chattanooga-based credit union enhancing one of its programs; and (3) a new initiative from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

From Knoxville:

  • Don DenUyl and Brad Miller, two of the key leaders of Knoxville’s annual “CodeStock” conference, announced last week that the event would not be held in 2023. “After extensive consideration, we have chosen to postpone the event in 2023 as we evaluate the future look and feel of the CodeStock conference,” the duo wrote in an email. “We believe the event, as well as our organization, requires change in order to be sustainable and continue to provide value to the tech community. To pursue that evolution, we must create the space to explore what that will be going forward.”
  • TVA has joined twith four other Southern utilities and the Battelle Corporation to submit a proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy for a Southeast Hydrogen Hub to produce and distribute hydrogen as a cleaner fuel for transportation, industry and power generation in the future. The coalition of utilities delivered a concept paper to the DOE to begin the process of seeking some of the $7 billion allocated for regional clean hydrogen hubs as part of the infrastructure investment package adopted by Congress last year.
  • The Knoxville Technology Council has posted a video of its recent “KTech Pulse: Technology Summit.” If you were not able to attend or want to revisit the event, you can do so at this link.

From Oak Ridge:

  • Emery Csulak, former Chief Data Officer for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), announced via LinkedIn that he has joined Boston Government Services (BGS) where he will be focused on enterprise cybersecurity. As virtual Chief Information Security Officer and Director of Cybersecurity Compliance at BGS, Csulak will be responsible for creating a cybersecurity maturity model certification team to help the business management consultant align with information technology security regulations.
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory is joining with two other DOE labs – National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – to co-lead Stor4Build. It is a new consortium focused on energy storage for buildings that will accelerate the growth, optimization and deployment of storage technologies. Click here to learn more.

From Chattanooga:

  • For the first time ever, the Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU) is hosting three separate “Idea Leap Grant Competitions” in the Chattanooga, Cleveland and Dalton areas. The organization is giving away $75,000 to entrepreneurs in the Chattanooga area and $50,000 each in the Cleveland and Dalton areas. To be eligible, small businesses must operate in TVFCU’s 17-county service area. Applications are open until 5 p.m. EST on December 16. TVFCU says there is only one application (click here), and small business owners may use it to enter any one of the three competitions.
  • A new study published by Text Request reveals that 70 percent of people say texting is the fastest way to reach them. That’s just one of the many findings in the “2023 State of Business Texting Report” that is anchored by more than a thousand survey responses, details what consumers want when it comes to business texting, how businesses are currently leveraging SMS technology to communicate with audiences, and where the most business texting opportunities exist. Other findings include: (1) 68 percent of people read every text they get, even spam; (2) 90 percent of people want to text with businesses; (3) 70 percent of consumers say they want to text about payments and billing options, but only 30 percent of organizations are utilizing texting for such purposes; (4) 77 percent of consumers want to text for customer service; and (5) 42 percent of those not currently texting in their organizations are actively working to implement or planning to implement it soon.
  • The Enterprise Center has launched an Innovation District Calendar, so Chattanoogans and those visiting the city can discover all the ways to Collide, Connect, Collaborate, and Create with the businesses, bars, and organizations around the district.
  • Under the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded $250,000 under a cooperative agreement to Chattanooga Area Regional Council of Governments to coordinate the implementation of a regional placemaking and tourism development program and a corresponding marketing initiative for public arts, heritage tourism, and outdoor recreation development in four counties. The region served includes Sequatchie Valley Region of Southeast Tennessee (Grundy, Bledsoe, Sequatchie, and Marion counties). The Southeast Tennessee Development District is contributing $45,000 to this project.

From Nashville but with Statewide Implications:

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is accepting applications through early December from agricultural, food, and forestry businesses desiring to receive cost-share funding through its “Agricultural Enterprise Fund” (AEF) program. Grants are awarded to starting or expanding businesses in Tennessee that demonstrate a strong potential for impact on local farm income, access to markets, increased capacity, or agricultural innovation. The application for the AEF program can be found here, and the deadline to apply is December 5. Businesses must include proof of financing and a business plan with their application for it to be considered.


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