BY: KAYLA SMITH
In Knoxville, you find a thriving, diverse business ecosystem complete with advance manufacturing facilities, notable corporate headquarters and a bustling entrepreneur-startup community. Attracted to the exceptional quality of life, unparalleled access to technology and a heritage rich in innovation, business is thriving across the region. From July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017, the Knoxville region reported a total economic impact of 1,568 new jobs created and announced $241.68 million in capital investments. Since September 2013, nearly 34,000 jobs have been created in the Knoxville MSA, representing nine percent growth.
“Knoxville has a thriving entrepreneurial culture that provides great ease of entry for start-ups as well as a vibrant talent pool for large employers,” said Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. “We have the benefit of major public institutions at the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which bring research resources and world-leading technology into our region. We are seeing strong population growth and new investment across our metropolitan area, which means an expanding base of consumers and a growing labor force. Put simply, this is a great place to do business!”
MANUFACTURING THE FUTURE
Situated at the intersections of Interstates 40 and 75, the Knoxville region is within a day’s drive to over 60 percent of the United States population, making it a convenient hub for manufacturing operations. The enterprise has a storied history in Knoxville with advanced manufacturing taking off as one of the city’s primary industries, marked by significant technological advances and scientific breakthroughs.
Home to ORNL, TVA, Y-12 National Security Complex, and the University of Tennessee, the Knoxville region has a high concentration of the scientific and technological assets necessary to convert research breakthroughs into commercial possibilities. The region has recently seen an influx of carbon fiber and composites companies as businesses tap into the available technology resources needed to elevate their operations.
The advanced composites industry is growing steadily at nearly 15 percent per year in the United States, accounting for 300,000 new, high-paying jobs over the past five years. The Knoxville region is considered a hot-bed for the composites industry, and the Knoxville Chamber’s economic development partnership announced in fall 2017 a new recruitment initiative dubbed Composites Coalition. Composite equipment manufacturer, Magnum Venus Products (MVP), is one of the companies capitalizing on the regional success of the composites industry and announced its plans to expand Knoxville operations in late 2016.
“MVP loves the many connections in the composites industry this area provides, as well as the tremendous benefit provided by the convenient logistical supply chain located in and around the area,” said Peter Hedger Jr., director of marketing and communications at MVP. “We are now situated within less than 48-hours of 80 percent of our customer base. This is a huge cost and time savings for MVP and our customers. We love the University of Tennessee and the research it provides the company. In addition, we have seen a massive uptick in our industry of composites in this area. ORNL and the cities of Knoxville and Oak Ridge have set up a robust ecosystem of startups and research that has led to the area being coined the “Silicon Valley of the composites industry.”
Knoxville is home to a diversified corporate climate with fashion labels to movie cinemas establishing corporate headquarters in the region. Launched in 2010, Patricia Nash Designs can be found in department stores like Macy’s, Dillard’s and Lord & Taylor, as well as selling live on TV and online at Home Shopping Network (HSN). In October 2016, Patricia Nash moved into its new headquarters near downtown Knoxville. The newly renovated industrial building houses its showroom, creative and corporate operations and E-commerce distribution center.
As the second biggest cinema chain in the United States, Regal Entertainment Group’s headquarters lies on Knoxville’s revitalized South Waterfront. Regal Entertainment began in Knoxville in 1989 and grew at a rapid pace. The company now employs over 500 employees at its Knoxville location and operates over 7,300 screens in 43 states.
With its corporate headquarters located just outside of Knoxville, Clayton Homes is one of the region’s major employers with nearly 3,000 employees. As one of the largest homebuilders in America, the company began in Knoxville over 60 years ago and has grown from a small retail center to one of the largest homebuilders in the U.S. The company was acquired by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway in 2003 and built more than 34,000 homes in 2015.
Knoxville has long had a healthy environment for entrepreneurism with nationally-recognized companies like Pilot Flying J, Jewelry Television, and the home of HGTV and Food Network, Scripps Networks Interactive, all getting their start in the region.
The entrepreneurial spirit is further fostered thanks to Knoxville’s abundance of resources designed to help entrepreneurs transition from concept to launch. Since its founding in 2013, the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) has helped over 700 entrepreneurs and hosted 400 start-up focused events. KEC is a mentor-driven business accelerator that serves as the front door for entrepreneurs in the region. It provides a collaborative environment for entrepreneurship, networking and inspiration to take place.
Software development startup, Cirrus Insight, has experienced the success of starting a business here firsthand. The customer relationship management application company was founded in 2011 and now boasts 3,400 customers and more than 100,000 users in every industry and in dozens of countries.
“Cirrus Insight loves Knoxville,” said Brandon Bruce, CCO and co-founder of Cirrus Insight. “We have access to the talent and resources that have helped us grow from one to 35 employees here. Our growing team enjoys all the coffee shops, craft breweries and mountain bike trails that make Knoxville a great place to call home.”
Article originally published in the 2018 Choose Knoxville Relocation Guide. Click here to read the full publication.