As many people know, I am not a native Knoxvillian. For that matter, my ten months here barely qualify me as a resident. In order to make up for this lack of historical knowledge of this place that I now call home, I have spent a great deal of time reading about our past and discussing the days of yesteryear with those who are much more informed of it than me. Many of those stories have a recurring theme: resiliency.

The Knoxville community has shown a unique, resilient nature when it comes to its full array of challenges. Whether it be natural disasters, equality struggles or financial crises, our region has always fought its way back and come out better for it. With such an incredible track record, there is absolutely no reason to believe that we won’t do it again.

It is exactly this mindset that we must maintain during our current economic situation. It would be insincere to not acknowledge that things are tough right now, but they won’t be forever. With other countries as examples, we can see that there is a positive future around the corner. People will be able to once again freely leave their homes and patronize their favorite establishments. Supply chains will be reestablished, and commerce will resume as it has in the past. Financial markets will reach a point of equilibrium and a sense of calm will return.


That doesn’t mean, however, that we should simply sit back and wait for normalcy. We should continue our tradition of resiliency and create what our new normal will be. To paraphrase Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge, we should improvise, adapt and overcome. The dynamism currently being adopted by our businesses to make it through the COVID-19 misery could morph into completely new business models. The temporary suspension of specific regulations could be eliminated totally, leading to whole new industry sectors.

As we work through this time together, please know that the Chamber is here to help. We have assembled a significant number of resources related to assisting the business and workforce community navigate this difficult time. We are connecting those companies that are currently hiring with the people who have lost their jobs. We are highlighting and promoting those businesses that have adapted their operations to continue servicing their customers. We are ensuring that organizations are aware of aid that is available in terms of grants and low-interest loans. Essentially, we are merely trying to do our part.

It is hard to concentrate on the positive when the negative seems to be engulfing you. We are, after all, human. But it is important to remember that this is temporary. We will get through this and be stronger for it. A new tomorrow will soon arrive, and we should look and work toward it with hope, optimism, and…resiliency.





Mike Odom
President & CEO