BY: JESSICA GUTMAN

While announcements of new company relocations create buzz and generate headlines, the majority of new job growth stems from the expansion of a region’s existing businesses and industry.

The Knoxville Chamber’s economic development team helps accelerate job growth and business investment by nurturing companies located in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley and connecting them with essential programs and services.

Alex Kleto, manager of existing industries, regularly meets with the region’s existing industries and connects them with resources and area partners to support business retention and growth and to foster the expansion of key industries in East Tennessee.

“We know that the majority of our job growth comes from companies that already exist in the region,” Kleto said. “So, my job is to support them by helping them gain access to capital and incentives, connecting them with job-training resources and working with TVA, KUB and others to drive down operational costs.

“These companies have worked hard to build their businesses in this area, and we want to make it beneficial for them to continue to do expand here. It’s definitely important to bring new business to this area, but it’s equally as important to take care of the people that are already here.”

Kleto works with human resources and operations managers at area companies to schedule existing industry visits in which she takes a facility tour, learns more about the company and listens to their challenges.

“Unemployment is very low right now, so the bulk of my conversations are about finding good people,” Kleto explained. “Companies want to know how to find the right people, how to train them and how to keep them.”

Allowing them to talk informally and discuss their challenges helps me identify which resources and partners I can connect them with.”

For more information about existing industry services or to schedule a visit, contact Alex Kleto at akleto@knoxvillechamber.com or (865) 246-2661.