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Weekend edition March 11, 2022 | Kailyn Lamb

Pilot launches $1 billion remodel initiative 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

Pilot Company Launches $1 Billion ‘New Horizons’ Initiative to Remodel Travel Centers Nationwide

Knoxville-based Pilot Company announced the “New Horizons” initiative earlier this week. The $1 billion project is estimated to take three years and will upgrade the equipment and experience at stores nationwide. It is the company’s largest investment in store modernization to date, according to a news release from Pilot. More than 400 Pilot and Flying J locations will be fully remodeled, and several other locations will receive upgrades.

“For 63 years, we’ve been proud to fuel millions of journeys and as we have done since our founding, we will continue to evolve the travel center experience to meet the changing needs of our guests and team members,” said Shameek Konar, Pilot Company Chief Executive Officer. “We are listening to what our guests want most at our locations and how we can improve our offerings to make their travels easier and more enjoyable. New Horizons will incorporate this feedback as we overhaul our entire network to deliver on what our guests value today and prepare our stores for the future.”

Learn more here.

KUB hires first female lineworker

On International Women’s Day, the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) announced it had hired its first female line worker. Amber Ray, who is also the first female graduate of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology’s powerline technician program, was hired in January for KUB’s apprenticeship program. Nationally, only 6.6 percent of powerline technicians are female.

“I’m happy to be in this role at KUB, and proud to be the first female lineworker here,” Ray said. “I love this line of work, and it’s exciting to know that I could make an impact on other women who might be interested in this work.”

The apprenticeship program at KUB lasts between 4-6 years.

MEDIC Regional Blood Center to hold two events this month

MEDIC is having a special blood drive for St. Patrick’s Day where all donors from March 14-18 will receive a t-shirt and ticket to Knoxville Ice Bears game on March 20, while supplies last. The local nonprofit is also holding a “Blood Bank Madness” tournament along with other centers including Blood Bank of Hawaii, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, ConnectLife, Carter BloodCare, ImpactLife, Community Blood Bank, and Houchin Community Blood Bank. The tournament will coincide with the March Madness basketball tournament and begins on March 15. Blood centers will compare donation numbers each week with the winning center moving to the next round.

Knoxville Chamber announces dates for fourth annual “Workforce Symposium”

The Knoxville Chamber, in partnership with the University of Tennessee’s (UT) Center for Advanced Systems Research & Education, and the Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, will host the fourth annual “Workforce Symposium: Growing and Retaining Talent.” The event will be held from April 21-22 at UT and the Knoxville Convention Center. Learn more here.

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