Seema was born in India and became a naturalized US citizen at age 13. Knoxville has been her home on and off for more than 40 years. She is married and has a daughter in middle school, and she is the Program Coordinator for a Domestic Violence Offender’s Intervention program.
Seema and her husband, Eddie started their own business together 10 years ago. They were both novices and had to learn a great many skills. She utilized resources from the chamber, SCORE and KEC. Her husband now runs a successful electrical contracting company, and he has several employees and is a member of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce. Through the experience and learning curve of beginning a business from scratch and the struggles that entails, she feels well qualified to understand the challenges of entrepreneurship and young professionals in Knoxville.
What are three factors you feel are most critical to continuing Knoxville’s steady economic growth? How do you plan to support these factors?
Our economic growth is in part by outside businesses choosing this area as a desirable location. Although businesses of many types need to be encouraged to continue to come into this area, we need to be careful with any incentive programs. We must ensure that any incentive is considered thoroughly to see net value to the community. We must insist that more is coming into the community in ways of good paying jobs and profit that stays local, than actually being removed from our area.
I believe Knoxville has done a good job of using our natural attractions to attract tourism and new construction. The building trades are thriving but we need to make sure we have a well-trained workforce to fill these positions.
Knoxville has been designated a Maker City. This designation along with the redevelopment of buildings like The Standard Mill Building may be used for new businesses to begin small-scale manufacturing and/or retail as is being addressed by the new zoning criteria set forward in ReCode Knox. These businesses and other innovative endeavors must be encouraged and fostered across communities to bring economic growth to all Knoxvillians.
What is the biggest challenge facing Knoxville businesses today? How do you plan to address this issue if elected?
Nationally, and in Knoxville, the economy has changed a great deal, especially over the last decade. Young people do not have the expectations that their parents or grandparents may have had to find a good job with a livable wage, benefits and a pension plan. Many entering the workforce now are not as much on a career path but instead must engage in the gig economy and all of the adults in the household must work just to make ends meet. This does not allow for much of a disposable income to reinvest into goods and services to help build and maintain a strong economy.
Brick and mortar retail is in trouble all over the country. Large retail stores seem to suffer more than small local specialty shops.
Mixed-use development and walkability can encourage neighborhood shopping and the local economy.
In what specific ways would you like to see Knoxville’s young professionals more engaged in our community?
I would like to see young professionals engaged in strengthening connections within our community with younger adults and students. I hope to see them reach out in alternative ways and mentor youth that they may not have engaged with and create networking techniques and education opportunities for them.
All candidate profile information was submitted by the candidate’s election campaign committee. The Knoxville Chamber does not support or endorse candidates in local elections.
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