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April 24, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Weekly “News & Notes” feature spotlights awards, appointments, and upcoming events

From Maryville and Alcoa:

Bryan Daniels, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Blount Partnership, has been named to Consultant Connect‘s listing of the “2022 North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers.” According to the announcement, the organization asks its “robust site selector community and economic development partners to nominate individuals that they feel are top-notch and worthy of the title.” In an article published in The Daily Times, Carla Sones, Managing Director of Consultant Connect, cited the economic development that has occurred since Daniels assumed the top position in July 2020. “During Bryan’s tenure, Blount County has recruited over 75 new and expanding companies in the areas of research and development, corporate headquarters, manufacturing and back office support centers,” she wrote in an email. “The total capital investment of these companies has exceeded $4 billion and created more than 12,000 direct new jobs with average wages above Tennessee’s average.” Consultant Connect provides education programming and services for economic developers, site consultants, and communities. Click here to read the Partnership’s news release.

From Knoxville:

  • The University of Tennessee Research Park will soon announce the first six participants in the “Spark Cleantech Accelerator,” an early stage program that will offer a comprehensive set of services to support promising cleantech technology companies. The accelerator, which begins June 6, is one of three programs being offered by the “Heartland Climate Tech Partnership” with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy. Other sponsors of the accelerator include the City of Knoxville, TVA, LaunchTN, and the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council’s “Energy Mentor Network.”
  • Centro Hispano de East Tennessee, the Latina-led nonprofit organization in Knoxville that bridges the gap between the Latino community and East Tennessee, graduated the first cohort in its “Big Dreams in Small Businesses” program last Thursday. “We launched this program to set up Latino business owners to grow their reach and break into new markets that would otherwise be inaccessible,” says Brandon Ledford, Centro’s Director of Workforce Development. “Participants have learned about building a business plan, leadership development, marketing and branding, financial analysis and budgeting, licensing, lending, and more.”
  • Bunker Labs Knoxville is planning a unique opportunity this Thursday in Clinton. In conjunction with Knox Goats, the organization supporting military veterans and their spouses is hosting a free event beginning at 5:30 p.m. that is open to all – veterans and non-veterans – at the Knox Goats farm, 816 Bull Run Road, Clinton. “You (can) learn how goats are used to clear land from invasive species (Kudzu, etc.),” Bunker Labs notes on its announcement. To register, click here.

From Oak Ridge:

Elizabeth Harm, a former administrator at the Savannah River National Laboratory, is the new Executive Director of the Energy Technology & Environmental Business Association. She started about a month ago with the non-profit trade association representing approximately 170 small, large and mid-sized companies and affiliate members that provide environmental, technology, energy, engineering, construction and related services to government and commercial clients.

From Johnson City:

First Tennessee Development District leaders have chosen former Hancock County Mayor Mike Harrison to lead the organization that provides a variety of services in eight Northeast Tennessee counties. He served as Hancock County’s Mayor from 1990 to 2002, then was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives where he served until 2015. Since then, Harrison has served as Executive Director of the Tennessee Association of County Mayors.

From Nashville:

Lindsey Cox, the new CEO of Launch Tennessee, announced at Thursday’s quarterly meeting of the organization’s Board of Directors that an abbreviated “3686 Entrepreneurship Festival” is being planned. Current plans are to hold it the last week of September, specific dates and length still to be determined.

Speaking of Cox, she is transitioning into her new role while also transitioning out of her role at Chattanooga’s CO.LAB. Abby Trotter continues as Interim CEO at Launch while also engaging more in her previous roles as a Partner at Hall Strategies as well as Executive Director of both Life Science Tennessee and the BioTN Foundation.

From Nashville, but with Statewide Implications:

The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry reported late Thursday on the just passed State of Tennessee budget for 2022-23 and noted one area of concern to economic developers. “The Rural Economic Opportunity program, which enables local site development and supports the Three Star Community program as well as the Main Street program, saw cuts of $18 million, leaving the program with only $8 million to operate. Another $18 million cut lowered Fast Track incentive funding to $85 million. A remedy to the reductions was reached after significant concerns were expressed by economic development leaders from throughout the state and the Chamber. The House passed amendatory language giving ECD (Department of Economic and Community Development) the ability to overcome reductions with funds from other areas within their budget.”

From Memphis:

Under its “FedEX Cares” brand, the global giant recently spotlighted the work of Kayla Rodriguez Graff and Isaac Rodriguez, her brother, who co-founded their medical device company, SweetBio, with a singular goal in mind: help close wounds and the health disparity gap by harnessing the power of honey. launched in 2015, the start-up was selected to join the “ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator” and in the fourth cohort of Launch Tennessee’s “The TENN” master accelerator in 2017. Today, its APIS® product can help encourage healing for a range of injuries – from minor abrasions to wounds that might eventually require amputation.

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