Knox Commerce

Statewide Partnership Markets Innovation Valley


The Knoxville Chamber’s economic development team works heavily with local, regional and statewide partners to ensure the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley brand is top of mind for site selectors and companies looking to relocate or expand operations.

One of its statewide partners is the Tennessee Economic Partnership (TEP), a public-private, non profit organization with members including the state of Tennessee, the Tennessee Valley Authority and Tennessee’s business and economic development community. Through strategically-planned networking events, TEP generates leads and business relationships with key prospects and consultants in an effort to attract jobs and investment to Tennessee.

“TEP is a way for economic development agencies across the state to band together and sell Tennessee as the place to do business,” said Jena Locke Thomas, association manager for TEP. “We do this under the assumption we can accomplish more together than individually.”

TEP hosts six to eight events each year including outbound, key-market visits and regional red carpet tours. Key-market visits allow for in-office meetings with top consulting firms and companies in the area, giving members face time with consultants and an opportunity to provide an overview of the state’s assets. Last month, the Knoxville Chamber visited Dallas for a key-market visit with TEP. Other cities have included Chicago, New York, Detroit and Atlanta.

(From left to right) Jamari Brown, Tennessee Economic and Community Development; Doug Lawyer, the Knoxville Chamber; Jenna Keller, Site Selection Group; Brian Merrion, Site Selection Group; and Wade Creswell of the Roane Alliance gather in Dal-las for a TEP key market visit in November.

“TEP builds our working relationships and demonstrates the high level of cooperation and trust statewide economic developers have for one another to potential clients, while also allowing us to have the expertise on hand to discuss our entire state and paint a more complete picture of who we are to our audiences,” said Clay Walker, chairman of the TEP board and CEO of Networks Sullivan Partnership.

“TEP has also provided me the opportunity to work with, learn from and build relationships with some really incredible professional economic developers, which has made me a much more valuable leader in my community and region.”