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January 17, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Weekly “News & Notes” spotlights activities across the eastern half of TN

After a flurry of activity to begin 2022, there was somewhat of a drop-off in announcements last week for our “News & Notes.” That said, we still have a good number of newsworthy items to share.

From Knoxville:

  • Suresh Babu has been appointed Senior Advisor for Research and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Workforce Development Initiatives at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). In this role, he will focus on strategic investments in research and development and curricular innovations aimed at preparing a 21st-century STEM workforce. The position will serve UTK’s Office of the Provost and Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development to advise on emerging national trends and opportunities to position the institution as a thought leader in the national and global community. According to the UTK news release, Babu will begin transitioning immediately from his current role as Interim Education Director of the UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute and Director of the UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education. He will retain his position as UT­-ORNL Governor’s Chair Professor for Advanced Manufacturing, a joint appointment between UTK’s Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering and also his Professorship in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
  • Endeavor Composites Inc. was one of 20 start-ups spotlighted in a recent document produced by the MassChallenge Partnerships Team. According to the introduction to the lookbook as it is described, the MassChallenge team identified “top performing start-ups prepared to address the challenges associated with specific business functions. The start-ups selected were among the highest ranked by our judges during the MassChallenge pre-final judging round and self-identified as relevant to specific markets.” Endeavor Composites and Hicham Ghossein, its Founder and Chief Executive Officer, were participants in Cohort 3 of the “Innovation Crossroads” program operated by ORNL.
  • The Interstate 40 Alternative Fuel Corridor Team is seeking to enhance the group’s efforts in identifying key organizations that would like to be involved in the conversion of Interstate 40 into a robust Alternative Fuel Corridor. To do so, the group has launched a survey will allow it to form partnerships “with and amongst a diverse group of state and local partners to accelerate the development and installation of public alt-fuel infrastructure along I-40.” The team is currently requesting responses specifically from local power companies and universities in Tennessee. Responses are due by the end of January.

From Oak Ridge:

Ed Wescott is a legend in Oak Ridge. The longtime photographer, who died at age 97, captured photographs of the Secret City during the Manhattan Project, and his work has enabled Oak Ridge to encapsulate its famous role in American history. Tomorrow on the anniversary of what would have been Wescott’s 100th birthday, the Oak Ridge Library will host an event titled “Early Oak Ridge Tennessee through the Lens of Ed Wescott.” It begins at 12 noon Wednesday. 

From Chattanooga:

Chris Cummings and Wendy Overton of Iconic Moments, the world’s first NFT (non-fungible tokens) marketplace that provides cultural institutions a new way of monetization, have been selected to participate in the newest cohort of the “VILLAGEx” program offered by The Idea Village in New Orleans. A total of 12 start-ups made the grade for the latest cohort. As regular readers of know, Cummings founded Pass It Down based on a personal experience that we captured in this April 2016 article.

From Northeast Tennessee:

Susan Reid is returning to familiar roots. The longtime Executive Director of the First Tennessee Development District (FTDD) has been named Interim Executive Director of the organization following the retirement of Chris Craig. FTDD’s Executive Committee made the announcement.

From Nashville:

  • Nashville Inno reports that entrepreneurs in Music City think its good time to start a new business in Middle Tennessee — if they can find the workers to staff it. At least that’s the conclusion from a recent survey of members of the Nashville chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), which found that 59 percent of its entrepreneurs are “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to launch a new business in 2022. Less than 14 percent of business owners said they are “somewhat” or “very” concerned about securing funding in the new year. However, respondents are worried about finding talent, with 40 percent saying it was one of their top concerns. EO Nashville is the national organization’s third-largest chapter, with more than 280 members operating businesses generating more than $2 billion in annual sales and employing more than 12,000 people, according to a news release.
  • The Nashville Entrepreneur Center reports that OMNY Health, a 2020 “Project Healthcare” alum, was selected to join MassChallenge HealthTech to participate in its “PandemicX Accelerator.” Co-led by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, this group is tasked with using digital tools and publicly accessible data to reduce the disparities and inequity worsened by the novel coronavirus.
  • A new report from Zillow, the online real estate marketplace company, places Nashville as the sixth hottest housing market for 2022. Not unexpectedly, the Sun Belt dominates Zillow’s list for the second year in a row with two Florida cities (Tampa and Jacksonville) coming in at #1 and #2 respectively followed by two North Carolina cities (Raleigh and Charlotte) ranking #3 and #5 respectively. Last year’s hottest market, Austin, fell to #10 this year. Conversely, New York, Milwaukee, San Francisco and Chicago are expected to be the coolest housing markets in 2022.

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