Knox Commerce

Corporate Investments Catalyst for Success of Community Projects

Photo by Ben Finch


On Tuesday, Nov. 14, Lakeshore Park debuted its newest facilities – lengthened walking trails, two pavilions, a picnic shelter, new restroom facilities, additional parking lots and a new overlook.

The enhancements are part of an ongoing improvement project aimed at using the 185 acres of green space as a catalyst for elevating all of the City’s public parks and building a lasting community asset.

A functional example of public and private partnership, the City of Knoxville maintains ownership of the land and laid the foundation for today’s renovations through the demolition of unusable buildings and installation of underground utilities. Day-to-day operations are managed by the park’s nonprofit corporation, the same entity raising funds for its current improvement projects.

The majority of the funds for renovations, which started in 2015, have come from private contributions by local businesses, foundations and families. To date, the park board has invested $25 million with plans to construct gardens, a green amphitheater, outdoor basketball courts, a sand volley court, and landscaping as funds allow.

“Lakeshore Park exemplifies what happens when charitable leadership and corporate philanthropy come together,” said Tom McAdams, Lakeshore Park board member. “A group of individuals saw a need, saw an opportunity, and they didn’t wait for someone else to do something. They worked with three mayors and four governors. They hired planners and architects. They contributed money to build the park, and they assumed responsibility for managing it.”

Last month, the Haslam family and Pilot Flying J were recognized for their support of Lakeshore Park. Jimmy Haslam served as chair of the board for more than twenty years and led efforts to obtain approvals for its Master Plan. Haslam was succeeded as board chair by his wife, Dee Bagwell Haslam, who has led for the past five years.

“There are many people in the public and private sectors who have worked hard to build Lakeshore Park,” said Cardin Bratley, director of development for the nonprofit Lakeshore Park organization. “There have been many generous contributors to the park’s capital campaign, but it all started when someone saw a need and dedicated themselves to making it happen through a combination of charitable leadership and charitable giving.

“Lakeshore Park is not the only local need that is worthy of a supporting organization, and many of our local business leaders – like the Haslams – already have the skills needed to plan, organize, budget, and operate a charitable project. The involvement of the private sector is vital to the success of community projects and fulfillment of community needs.”

The benefits of corporate philanthropy are well documented, with studies finding community investment builds reputation, expands market recognition, leads to the successful recruitment and retention of talent, and attracts new industries to a region.

“Great things don’t just happen,” said McAdams. “They need the support of great people. There are a variety of needs in Knoxville, including Lakeshore Park. As we move into a new year, I want to challenge area businesses to get involved, find a need, seize an opportunity, and contribute to a project that will impact generations.”