Welcome865 attendees at the Knoxville Chamber

The Knoxville Chamber’s Diversity Champions and Innovation Valley teams were able to welcome an array of newcomers from all backgrounds to help them acclimate to life in the Knoxville region on January 17, 2019 for the year’s first Welcome865 event. Keynotes focused on quality of life, engaging with local Knoxville resources, and cultivating community connections. Doug Minter, Director of Small Business Development at the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce and driving force behind the Propel Montor Protégé Program, was present for the event.

“Recent migration statistics from the US Census Bureau tells us that Knoxville is one of the fastest growing metros in America”, Minter states. “A majority of newcomers come from within the state… but many are from Florida, California, or states outside the south such as New York and New Mexico. We desire for Welcome865 to be a launch pad to get involved in the community through organizations such as Volunteer East Tennessee and Leadership Knoxville. We often hear from newcomers that it took anywhere from 2 to 5 years for them to get connected within Knoxville and adjust to the culture. This timeframe is extended for newcomers from foreign countries where language and cultural norms are more pronounced, and for those who are visible minorities who can feel lost in the ethnic demographics of our region. We want to help be a hub for connections that assist in solving this dilemma.”

“We see Welcome865 as a way to allow newcomers to network with one another, get educated on the community, and create emotional and professional connections”, Minter added. “We intentionally encourage our ethnically and geographically diverse talent to attend this event to let them find like-minded connections and shorten their acclimation time. When we lose talent due to lack of cultural, community, and professional connections… that’s on us as a community. Our business community is already fighting for skilled labor, and the cost associated with losing talent is a substantial one. Welcome865 is not a silver bullet, but is purposed to be part of the solution.”

Attendees were able to network with area locals

“Welcome865 is an avenue for newcomers to learn how to connect to the key assets of the region – like our many outdoor related groups and agencies – but also our cultural assets such as the Beck Cultural Center, Centro Hispano, and other groups and programming. It is all about increasing the quality of life for newcomers so that they can authentically consider Knoxville home.”

For more information on Welcome865, please email Doug Minter at dminter@knoxvillechamber.com.

The Diversity of Knox County

Knox County, TN is currently home to a population of 456,132 people, from which 97.3% are citizens. The ethnic composition is composed of 376,208 White residents (82.5%), 40,084 Black residents (8.79%), 18,429 Hispanic residents (4.04%), 10,650 Asian residents (2.33%), and 7,634 Two+ residents (1.67%).

The most common foreign languages in Knox County, TN are Spanish (11,772 speakers), Chinese (2,016 speakers), and Arabic (1,635 speakers). Comparatively, Knox County has a relatively high number of Scandinavian (201 speakers), Arabic (1,635 speakers), and Other Indic languages (931 speakers).