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Weekend edition November 19, 2021 | Kailyn Lamb

Tennessee programs receive $1.6 million in funding, 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

USDA invests in Tennessee businesses 

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced in a news release that the Department would be investing $86 million to improve equitable access in rural areas. The funding will help people who live and work in these communities with access to jobs, business opportunities, education, housing, and healthcare.

“Regardless of where they live, their race, ethnicity or gender, or the size of the town in which they live, all people must have access to decent housing, clean water and good job opportunities,” Vilsack said. “This is foundational to a healthy society and stable communities.”

The $86 million is being split into 218 investments that fall into six categories: Tribal College Initiative Grants, Rural Community Development Initiative Grants, Housing Preservation Grants, Delta Health Care Grants, Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grants, and Water and Waste Disposal Grants.

Seven of the investments are in the Tennessee area.

In the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), the Knoxville Leadership Foundation is receiving a $250,000 Rural Community Development Initiative Grant. The Loudon County Habitat for Humanity is receiving a $103,500 Housing Preservation Grant. Lastly, the Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties Inc. is receiving a $75,000 Housing Preservation Grant.

Throughout the rest of Tennessee, Appalachia Service Project Inc. is receiving a $180,000 Housing Preservation Grant. Mountain T.O.P. Inc is receiving a $75,000 Housing Preservation Grant. University of Tennessee is receiving a $547,293 Delta Health Care Grant. Lastly, Dyersburg State Community College is receiving a $339,878 Delta Health Care Grant.

In total, Tennessee is receiving nearly $1.6 million in funding from the USDA. Learn more here.

Six Tennessee companies make “North America Technology Fast 500”

Six Tennessee companies, including two from Chattanooga, made the latest listing of the “North America Technology Fast 500.”  It is similar to the “Inc. Magazine 5000” ranking in terms of being focused on revenue growth, but different in terms of casting the spotlight on the fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences, fintech, and energy tech companies in North America, whether public or private.

The listing ranks companies based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth during the period from 2017 to 2020. The two honorees from Chattanooga are Text Request, the text messaging software company, ranked #108, and FreightWaves, the provider of news and information for those in logistics, came in at #210. Others from Tennessee making the list were Revance Therapeutics Inc. on Nashville (#35), Surge Pays Inc. of Bartlett (#50), ClarisHealth of Nashville (#462), and TechnologyAdvice, also of Nashville, at #477.

In order to be eligible for “Technology Fast 500” recognition sponsored by Deloitte, companies must own proprietary intellectual property or proprietary technology, which must be sold to customers in products or services that contribute to a majority of the company’s operating revenues. Companies must have base-year operating revenues of at least $50,000 in U.S. currency and current-year operating revenues of at least $5 million. Additionally, companies must be in business for a minimum of four years and be headquartered within North America.

Ripley PR ranks in World’s Top 10 Fastest-Growing Marketing Firms

Maryville-based Ripley PR ranked in World’s Leaders Top 10 Fastest-Growing Marketing Firms. The magazine featured an interview with founder Heather Ripley. Read the article here.

Look forward to more coverage from on female-led public relations firms in the Knoxville MSA.

SBA opens nominations for 2022 National Small Business Week Awards

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2022 National Small Business Week (NSBW) Awards. The NSBW Awards recognize the achievements of SBA-assisted small businesses and the contributions they have made to their communities and our nation’s economy.

Nominations are being accepted through January 11, 2022 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Awards will be presented in the first week of May.

Nominations can be accepted in the following categories:

  • Small Business Person of the Year
  • Small Business Exporter of the Year
  • Phoenix Awards for Disaster Recovery:
    • Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery
    • Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery, Public Official
    • Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery, Volunteer
  • Federal Procurement Awards:
    • Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year
    • Small Business Subcontractor of the Year
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower Awards for Excellence (for large prime contractors who use small businesses as suppliers and contractors)
    • 8(a) Graduate of the Year
  • Awards to SBA Resource Partners:
    • Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Excellence and Innovation Center Award
    • Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award
    • Veterans Business Outreach Center of the Year
  • Small Business Investment Company of the Year

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