Soaky Mountain Waterpark food drive raises $3,000

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Soaky Mountain Waterpark food drive raises $3,000

(SEVIERVILLE, Tenn.) — Soaky Mountain Waterpark officials announced today the food drive they hosted on their last day of the 2020 season raised $3,000 for the Sevier County Food Ministry.

According to Dave Andrews, general manager of Soaky Mountain Waterpark, “Despite the challenges of the pandemic, our first season turned out to be an amazing one, and we are so happy to be sharing our gratitude with those less fortunate in our community.

a view of a city: Soaky Mountain Waterpark's food drive raised $3,000 for the Sevier County Food Ministry.

© Submitted
Soaky Mountain Waterpark’s food drive raised $3,000 for the Sevier County Food Ministry.

“We are really grateful to everyone who has embraced our new tourist attraction, and who realizes the powerful impact it can make on Sevier County.”

City administrator Russell Treadway also recently stated that the amusement tax for Sevierville for July-September of the fiscal year 2021 was $72,127 more than budgeted and the increase can be attributed in part to Soaky Mountain.

Soaky Mountain Waterpark has added nearly 500 jobs to the local economy.

It cost $90 million to construct and was developed by Wilderness Resorts and Waterparks who also owns and operates Wilderness at the Smokies in Sevierville, and Wilderness Resort, Glacier Canyon Lodge, and Wilderness on the Lake, Wild Rock Golf Course, Sundara Spa and Glacier Canyon Conference Center in Wisconsin Dells.

For more information visit:

Tennessee Market Week hosts International Gift Expo of the Smokies and Smoky Mountain Gift Show

NEW YORK, NY. (October 14, 2020) – Emerald, owner of the International Gift Expo of the Smokies (IGES), along with Clarion Events, owner of the Smoky Mountain Gift Show, today announce two of the gift, resort and souvenir industry’s most comprehensive buying events will come together to host an in-person Tennessee Market Week on November 4-7, 2020.

The Smoky Mountain Gift Show will be located at the Gatlinburg Convention Center while the International Gift Expo of the Smokies (IGES) will be located at the Pigeon Forge Leconte Center.  Both events will feature the top name lines and new products from hundreds of leading manufacturers and newcomers. As some of the first live-events trading in the second half of 2020, the top priority is ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved.  Both event teams and management are working closely with the convention centers, service providers, and state and local authorities to implement control measures to assure strict adherence to every health and safety standards.  Collectively, the Smokey Mountain Gift Show and IGES will create a Tennessee Market Week that meets every customer expectation from safety and convenience to the hospitality both IGES and the Smoky Mountain Gift Show are known for.

The IGES and Smoky Mountain Gift Show teams have taken a customer focused approach as they plan for the upcoming trade shows. Commented Lisa Glosson, vice president at Clarion Events which produces the Smoky Mountain Gift Show, “We know that this year has been different and difficult for many in our gift and souvenir family and we want to take every step to help support their businesses. The overwhelming feedback we have gotten is that they are ready to get back together, see and feel new products in person and network with the gift and souvenir community. This year may be unique, but it is the first step on each of our paths to coming back stronger than ever. We are so ready to see our friends back in Gatlinburg for the Smoky Mountain Gift Show.”

Emerald’s Executive Vice President Karalynn Spouse solidified the event producers’ shared vision for Tennessee Market Week noting, “Having conducted more than 20 years of business in the Smoky Mountains, IGES is excited to return to Pigeon Forge and connect with the gift and souvenir community. Our team is working tirelessly to stage a safe and effective live show for IGES’ loyal vendors and buyers. Our customers have expressed a deep desire to secure new merchandise for their retail shops as the busy holiday season approaches, connect with new suppliers and celebrate the longstanding tradition that is IGES. I am truly looking forwarding to seeing our friends and colleagues move business forward, and particularly safely this year.”

Buyers have echoed that sentiment, “Given the uncertain times we are all facing, attending the IGES show in November is as critical as ever to the future success of our business. IGES helps us maximize the sales and profitability of all our shops by working with our key vendors to get the best products at the best prices. Talking with fellow retailers about what changes they’ve made to their operations and what new products are doing well for them is an additional benefit to attending the show. There is nothing like seeing new items, designs, and colors in person. Not to mention talking with new vendors to see what they have to offer, which goes well beyond just products in a catalog,” commented IGES Attendee, Don Henk, Massanutten Resort.

Ensuring the safety of exhibitors, attendees and staff at Tennessee Market Week will be both teams’ priority as buyers and exhibitors head to the events. Beginning with pre-show communications to many new onsite health and safety additions – Tennessee Market Week will follow government guidelines issued by the CDC, state and local officials with regard to COVID-19 protocols and precautions. They continue to work closely with travel partners, hotels and convention centers to provide a safe and productive environment to conduct business. Each event has a comprehensive health and safety plan detailed through their website.  (See  and

The focus of both shows this year will be on generating connections and business. On the show floors, attendees can expect to find apparel, accessories, souvenirs, décor, gourmet foods, jewelry and more, in a variety of in-demand options including custom name-drop, Made in America, sustainable and others. The combined exhibitor lists feature more than 600 leading manufacturers with thousands of lines. IGES attendee, Bill Hyland, CEO, The Summer Hut commented, “Finding new vendors is a key reason for me to go to IGES. All their products are on display and you can compare between several choices. I find the atmosphere warm and friendly at IGES and this is extremely helpful when you talk to fellow attendees to learn more about business in general or a specific vendor. Go to IGES, you will love all it has to offer. Put in the effort and you will find those things that are necessary to push your business forward.” 

Smoky Mountain Gift Show attendee, Amber Williams of U.S. Space & Rocket Center added, “I look forward to reconnecting with industry peers, vendors, and show staff. There is always to so much to learn from other buyers across all different institutions. Every year after connecting with my peers I discover something that they are doing that can be beneficial for my business. Also, I firmly believe that as things return to a semi normal state, we all need to be prepared for incredible business. My goal for Smoky Mountain Gift Show is to use this time for product development so that I am ready to place orders when the museum begins to see an increase in attendance.  I do not want to be behind the curve and just beginning product development.”

The power of Tennessee Market Week also happens off the show floor with the contribution the events bring to local businesses including hotels, retail, restaurants and ground transportation. According to Go LIVE Together, a coalition of over 1,500 organizations representing thousands of business events who have joined forces to support legislative actions that will aid the event industry’s recovery from COVID-19, trade events contribute more than $419B annually in direct spending. On a local level, both the Smoky Mountain Gift Show and IGES work closely with the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge tourism and convention bureaus to promote the unique experiences in these destination cities. Tennessee Market Week will help to support many of the destination and travel businesses that attend the shows as buyers.

Smoky Mountain Gift Show exhibitor, Beth Long with Beth Long Sales commented, “I am very excited as are all of my customers to go to the beautiful fall Gatlinburg Show. There are wonderful exhibitors and customers, and everyone is ready to have the world start moving again – and love that we feel comfortable coming to the “small town feel” Tennessee Valley. I have spoken to a number of my regular customers and they are all excited to join us at the Smoky Mountain Gift Show and see what new products everyone has to offer.”

To make the Tennessee Market Week experience easier and more enjoyable for buyers, complimentary transportation is provided with shuttles running to and from the Gatlinburg Convention Center and the Pigeon Forge Leconte Center every 30 minutes. Both teams also offer budget saving travel incentives.

For more information please visit the event websites; Smoky Mountain Gift Show,  and International Gift Expo of the Smokies, Registration is free for qualified buyers and you must register separately for both events. Information about exhibiting at the Tennessee Market Week is below.

Tennova Healthcare promotes helpline 

to assist medicare beneficiaries in health plan selection

KNOXVILLE, TN (October 14, 2020) – Tennova Healthcare announced today the availability of a toll-free helpline designed to help Medicare beneficiaries select a health plan that fits their needs and budget.

The free helpline connects callers with local licensed agents who can assist in comparing traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Supplement and Prescription plans, and then facilitate enrollment in the plan selected. Through this program it will be easier for Medicare beneficiaries to find a plan that is best for them during Medicare annual enrollment from October 15th through December 7th. Licensed insurance agents are available at no cost or obligation to help consumers find a Medicare plan that meets their healthcare needs.

Local consumers can access the helpline at 855-721-8091, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT, or online at

“Consumers are bombarded with confusing messages from competing health plans and options—and this is especially true for those just turning 65 and becoming eligible for Medicare for the first time,” said Tony Benton, president and chief executive officer of Tennova Healthcare in East Tennessee. “This helpline is a one-stop resource for insurance information, so individuals can be confident in the selections they make.”

MedicareCompareUSA is the nation’s leading company helping consumers make this important decision. Not owned or managed by any Medicare insurance company, MedicareCompareUSA’s mission is to provide individuals the unbiased information they need while simplifying the enrollment process.

In addition to providing assistance throughout the plan application and enrollment process, agents of MedicareCompareUSA can provide an annual review of an enrollee’s Medicare coverage during Medicare’s enrollment period. This often includes assisting members affected by Medicare plan network changes that sometimes occur. Doing so assures that beneficiaries have the information they need to proactively select a plan that best meets their specific needs, preferences and budget.

Benton points out that Tennova is not in-network with all insurance options or health plans, and contractual relationships may change over time. If a patient enrolls with a health plan that does not include Tennova’s hospitals in the network, their care and relationships with their doctors could be affected.

“Members of our community have been entrusting us to be their healthcare partner for many years, and that’s a responsibility and honor we don’t take lightly,” Benton said. “This helpline can help those on Medicare make an informed decision regarding their insurance options at this important time in their life. We urge all eligible consumers to take advantage of this free service.”

Traditional Medicare and the Medicare Advantage plans offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, Cigna-HealthSpring, Humana, Amerigroup, UnitedHealthcare and WellCare all allow consumers covered by these plans full access to in-network medical care and procedures at the Tennova hospitals in East Tennessee.

Hi-Wire Brewing updates core beer lineup

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — October 13, 2020 — Hi-Wire Brewing is shaking things up across the board in its core lineup of beer. “The global pandemic this year gave us some time to sit back and reflect on our core business and how we can improve it,” notes Chris Frosaker, co-owner of Hi-Wire Brewing. Frosaker continues, “We also asked ourselves how to continue to grow and stand out in the crowded beer market. Our upcoming lineup changes reflect Hi-Wire’s desire and ability to continue innovating and provide value to our customers.” These exciting updates to the brewery’s year-round flagships are rolling out starting this month, October 2020, as they become available across Hi-Wire’s distribution area. 

First off, Hi-Wire Lager and Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA just hit a growth spurt. Both beers have moved from the classic six-packs of 12-ounce cans into new tallboy six-packs of 16-ounce cans for the same price as before. That means Hi-Wire fans get to take home even more beer without paying any extra. Following this huge update, Hi-Wire Lager will no longer be available in twelve-packs, but Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA will continue to come in twelve-packs of 12-ounce cans. The bigger and better six-packs of both beers have already started to hit shelves throughout Hi-Wire Brewing’s distribution footprint. Both are also available now in Hi-Wire’s Asheville taprooms and, and they will soon be available at Hi-Wire Brewing Durham and Knoxville as well. 

The fan-favorite Lo-Pitch Juicy IPA is getting a bit hazier to become Lo-Pitch Hazy IPA (5.5% ABV). This new, easy-drinking hazy IPA packs a bright citrus hop punch without all the bitterness, and it will receive full distribution in six-packs and twelve-packs of 12-ounce cans. It is available now in Asheville taprooms and Hi-Wire’s online beer shop with bright new electric green packaging.

There’s also a brand-new face on Hi-Wire’s flagship roster with the addition of Double Hi-Pitch IPA (9% ABV) in six-packs of 12oz cans line-priced with its year-round peers. Previously available in a limited run of four-packs of 16-ounce cans, this even bolder version of Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA is back by popular demand and here to stay. It receives a double dose of classic West Coast hops resulting in eye-opening dank, citrus aromas. Weighing in at 65 IBUs, this dangerously drinkable double IPA boasts distinctive melon and grapefruit flavors to balance out the malt. Double Hi-Pitch IPA is available now in Hi-Wire Brewing taprooms, across Hi-Wire’s distribution footprint, and online at

With these major updates comes the partial loss of Bed of Nails Brown Ale. This American ode to a traditional English brown will no longer be distributed in six-packs of 12-ounce cans, but it will still be available on draft in select markets. However, cans of Bed of Nails Brown Ale will also still feature in the newly-updated Hi-Wire Brewing Clown Car mixed twelve-pack alongside 12-ounce cans of Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA, Lo-Pitch Hazy IPA, and a brewer’s choice beer.

The only flagship beer that will not see any changes is Go Getter Low-Calorie IPA that was added to the lineup in January 2020. It will continue to receive full distribution in six-packs of 12-ounce cans. 

Hi-Wire Brewing is known for producing approachable and balanced lagers and ales, most notably Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA, Lo-Pitch Juicy IPA, and Bed of Nails Brown, and it boasts an award-winning sour and wild ale program. Founded in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2013, Hi-Wire now has two locations in Asheville – the Big Top Production Facility, Taproom & Event Space and the South Slope Specialty Brewery & Taproom – along with a third taproom in Durham, North Carolina, and its first out-of-state taproom in Knoxville, Tennessee. Hi-Wire’s fifth taproom is slated to open in Wilmington, North Carolina, in fall 2020. Hi-Wire Brewing’s Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup award-winning beers can be found on draft and in cans across North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, Virginia, and Indiana. To learn more about the company, visit

Tanger Outlets Sevierville joins the Civic Alliance to encourage participation in November election, offers paid time off to employees who work the polls

GREENSBORO, N.C., — Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc. (NYSE: SKT), a leader in the outlet industry, announced it has joined the Civic Alliance, a non-partisan coalition of businesses whose aim is to support safe, healthy and trusted elections and inspire civic engagement amongst its employees and customers.

Through its work with the Civic Alliance, Tanger Outlets Sevierville will participate in Power the Polls, an initiative to address the nationwide poll worker shortage by recruiting and training the next generation, with the goal of securing at least one million volunteers by November. As part of the effort, Tanger Outlets Sevierville is encouraging its regular full-time employees to utilize available paid time off through the volunteerism program to serve as poll workers in their communities.

Tanger’s participation in the Civic Alliance is part of the company’s recent efforts to support civic engagement and its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council’s leadership and action goals ahead of the 2020 election. Last month, Tanger began a partnership with HeadCount, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting voter registration amongst young people, installing voter registration stations at 24 of its open-air locations nationwide. This partnership encourages employees and shoppers to check their registration status, register to vote, find a local polling place, access information about how to vote early and review registration deadlines state by state.

“At Tanger, we believe our democracy works best when we all participate. We value civic engagement, especially exercising the right to vote, which is why we have taken a number of steps to help our employees and customers navigate this election season.” said Stephen Yalof, Chief Operating Officer and President of Tanger Outlets. “We are excited to join the Civic Alliance and continue our partnership with HeadCount ahead of the upcoming election. I’m proud of Tanger’s continued commitment to supporting civic engagement among our employees and shoppers. By working together, we can ensure everyone’s voices are heard this November.”

To learn more about Tanger’s commitment to supporting civic engagement, visit

About Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc.

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc. (NYSE: SKT), is a publicly-traded REIT headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina that presently operates and owns, or has an ownership interest in, a portfolio of 38 upscale outlet shopping centers. Tanger’s operating properties are located in 20 states and in Canada, totaling approximately 14.1 million square feet, leased to over 2,700 stores which are operated by more than 500 different brand name companies. The Company has more than 39 years of experience in the outlet industry. For more information on Tanger Outlet Centers, call 1-800-4TANGER or visit the Company’s website at

About the Civic Alliance

The Civic Alliance is a nonpartisan business coalition that strengthens our democracy by supporting safe, healthy and trusted elections and inspiring every American to participate in shaping our country’s future. Founded by the CAA Foundation and Democracy Works, the Civic Alliance cultivates a community of companies united by a shared belief that an active democracy is good for business and an engaged business community is good for democracy. With its valuable tools, resources, events and partnership opportunities, the Civic Alliance helps companies engage employees and consumers as active participants in civic life. Join us at

About HeadCount 

Since 2004, HeadCount has registered over 650,000 voters and worked with a long list of musicians and partners including Ariana Grande, JAY-Z, Beyonce, March for Our Lives, RuPaul’s DragCon, MTV, and Dead & Company. With 40,000 volunteers, HeadCount ranks as one of the most active grassroots civic participation organizations in the United States.    

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Apex Bank opens in Knox County

Knoxville, Tenn. – On Thursday, October 1, 2020, Apex Bank began operations in South Knoxville. In August, Apex Bank entered into an agreement with People’s Community Bank to buy the building, along with a location in Rogersville to its rapidly expanding East Tennessee footprint.

Apex Bank, founded in 1931 and headquartered in Tennessee, is consistently ranked as one of the best performing community banks in America. Apex Bank has experienced tremendous growth since unifying its brand in 2015, increasing total assets from $157 million to over $870 million as of August 31, 2020.

“Our success is attributed to our unwavering commitment to customer service,” said President and CEO, Matt Daniels. “We continually look for ways to re-invent banking in order to best support our neighbors with their financial needs.”

The Bank’s east Tennessee expansion started in 2017 with the acquisition of American Patriot Bank. Since then, the bank opened an additional five locations in Greene County, along with an office in Bulls Gap and a new location in Rogersville, Hawkins County.

“Our team has worked extremely hard and we’ve grown significantly in east Tennessee in just three years,” said Jerome Julian, East Tennessee Community President. “Being able to expand into Knox County is a great next step in our overall growth plan. Apex Bank has earned people’s choice awards for being involved in the community with a particular focus on supporting schools. We look forward to engaging with the South Knoxville and Seymour communities.”

The South Knoxville office is located at 7570 Mountain Grove Drive and will operate Monday through Thursday 8:00 AM-5:00 PM and Friday 8:00 AM-6:00 PM. The Apex Bank team welcomes former People’s Community Bank customers to visit the team at this location and/or call us at 865 500-4127 for more information about Apex Bank and the bank’s product offerings.

Apex Bank delivers high-quality financial services and actively looks for opportunities to engage with local communities to build strong relationships that promote economic stability and growth. Apex Bank currently operates 17 offices across Tennessee, in addition to its Knoxville-based national mortgage-servicing center, where the bank purchases residential and commercial mortgages throughout the country. For more information of Apex Bank, please visit Apex Bank is a member of the FDIC.

Avison Young closes $31 million office portfolio sale

KNOXVILLE, TN: Avison Young closed the $31 million, 193,000 sq.ft. four-building office portfolio at 1965 & 1967 Hawks Landing Lane and 3225 & 3231 North Star Circle in Louisville, TN (Blount County). The disposition team at Avison Young led by John M. Adams III SIOR, CCIM and Brian Tapp CCIM represented Stock Creek Properties in the disposition.

These properties are conveniently located to Pellissippi Parkway between McGhee Tyson Airport and I40/75. These properties have been exceptionally maintained and were 100% leased as they were built in phases in 2000, 2006, 2011 & 2015.

Avison Young opened its Knoxville office in September of 2015. The Knoxville office boasts over 225 years of combined brokerage experience. They currently represent over 1.85 million square feet of commercial, office and industrial space in Knoxville alone. The Knoxville team includes ten brokers, six of whom hold CCIM designations—the most of any other local firm—and three SIOR members. These designations recognize expertise in various disciplines in commercial real estate. In addition to industry certified team members, they also have a full-time marketing and support staff and premium memberships across various marketing platforms.

Pilot Pumpers event raises $94,697 for United Way of Greater Knoxville

Pilot donated $94,697 to the United Way of Greater Knoxville thanks to the support of community members who purchased gas and other items at Knox County Pilot Convenience Stores during the “Pilot Pumpers” fundraiser Oct. 5-7.

During the 28th annual Pilot Pumpers three-day event, Pilot donated five cents of every gallon of gasoline sold and 10 cents of every dollar spent in-store to the United Way of Greater Knoxville’s 2020 annual campaign.

“We are impressed and humbled that, during a unique year without in-person celebrity pumpers greeting guests at the pump, the community stepped up and showed up at our stores to support the Pilot Pumpers fundraiser,” Pilot Founder Jim Haslam said. “Now, more than ever, the United Way is ready and able to help many people in East Tennessee, and this $94,697 will go a long way in supporting our community. Thank you!”

To prioritize the health and safety of guests and local celebrities, Pilot Pumpers did not have on-site pumpers greeting guests in 2020. However, Pilot remained committed to partnering with the community and the United Way to raise funds and support the increased need for relief due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to guests who participated and stopped at stores to fuel up and grab a coffee or a snack, the event again was a success.

“We’re staying apart but working together to make our community stronger for everyone,” Haslam said.

Pilot Pumpers is the single-largest special event fundraiser for the United Way of Greater Knoxville’s annual campaign. Since its inception in 1992, the event has raised more than $1.6 million for United Way.

For more information, visit Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, Pilot operates 38 convenience stores in Tennessee.

Marcus & Millichap arranges the sale of a 9,014 square foot net-leased property

SEYMOUR, TN, October 9, 2020 – Marcus & Millichap (NYSE: MMI), a leading commercial real estate brokerage firm specializing in investment sales, financing, research and advisory services, announced today the sale of a Dollar General Seymour, TN (Knoxville MSA), a 9,014-square foot net-leased property, according to Josh Caruana, regional manager of the firm’s Cincinnati office. The asset sold for $975,000, which represents a 7.86% cap rate and 99% of asking price.

Darpan Patel, First Vice President in Marcus & Millichap’s Cincinnati office, and Dan Yozwiak, First Vice President, and Justin Fenn, Senior Associate in Marcus & Millichap’s Columbus office, had the exclusive listing to market the property on behalf of the seller, a private investor. Jody McKibben, Tennessee Regional Manager and Broker of Record, assisted in closing this transaction.

The Dollar General property generated national interest and the team was able to secure seven (7) offers, the owner selected an Alabama based buyer who was able to visit the site and had similar assets in their portfolio.

“Our marketing efforts generated action immediately and we were able to efficiently select a buyer to achieve a great price with a smooth escrow,” said Darpan Patel. “The competitive bidding for this asset proves now is a great time to evaluate your options as an investor to see if it makes sense to capitalize on the market,” added Dan Yozwiak.

Five local startups graduate from Tennessee’s Energy Mentor Network

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. –  Five Tennessee energy startups are graduating from the Energy Mentor Network, a rigorous mentorship program that cultivates energy entrepreneurship across the state.

Run by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) in partnership with Launch Tennessee, the Energy Mentor Network equips promising young companies with the tools and connections to raise capital and scale their businesses to market success.

The companies were paired with expert entrepreneurs to guide the companies through the multi-tiered program of panel presentations and mentorship sessions. To reach graduation, the startups built investable pitch decks, finance models, and structured business plans and defended those plans before panels of established entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

The graduating energy startups were members of the second cohort of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Innovation Crossroads program, a two-year fellowship that supports energy entrepreneurs to take their inventions from R&D to commercialization. Innovation Crossroads is a business mentor partner of the Energy Mentor Network. The startups include:

Eonix – Don DeRosa is developing next generation electrolytes to lower the cost and size of ultracapacitor modules. The lower cost and smaller ultracapacitor modules, used with lithium ion batteries, can dramatically improve efficiency, range and longevity of hybrid and electric vehicles. Eonix developed a novel salt that reduces device resistance by 40 percent and increases capacitance by 10 percent. They were founded in 2014 and have raised $800,000 in grant funding. Don DeRosa, the Chief Technology Officer, found his peers through Innovation  Crossroads and the Energy Mentor Network to help his startup with work. “We all have our  enclave to bounce ideas off of and go through shared obstacles,” DeRosa said. “That’s one of the strengths of the program.”

Nth Cycle – Megan O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, is developing a system to cost-effectively recycle lithium-ion batteries to recover the high-value metals within. She said she found the Energy Mentor Network to really focus on tech and helped her develop her business model. “Overall, I thought the program was amazing, it really helped us prepare for our seed round investment.” Nth Cycle has raised $930,000 in non-dilutive capital since it was founded in 2017, and is currently in the process of closing a $3 million financing round.

TCPoly – Matthew Smith’s new class of high thermal conductivity plastic composite materials aim to improve heat dissipation, allowing for metal replacement and light-weighting, cost and component reductions, and improved performance and reliability. These materials can also be 3D printed, allowing thermal engineers to rapidly and inexpensively prototype multi-functional thermal solutions and enabling the design of heat transfer products that cannot be manufactured using traditional methods. Smith, co-founder and CEO, has helped the company raise $1 million in undiluted funds since it began in 2016. TCPoly holds five patents.

Lux Semiconductors – Shane McMahon, CEO of Lux Semiconductors, said that working through the Energy Mentor Network helped him identify ways to think about the business. “What the first product looks like,” he said, “and engage with potential partners.” The company is working to significantly improve the performance of large area, thin-film semiconductors through a patent pending recrystallization process. By leveraging a century of innovations in bulk crystal growth and applying them to low cost thin-films for the first time, Lux will deliver an entirely new class of flexible semiconductors to serve as a next generation material platform for integrated electronics. They’ve raised $1 million since being founded in 2017.

Ascend Manufacturing – Founder and CEO Justin Nussbaum developed a 3D printing technology called Large Area Projection Sintering (LAPS) for manufacturing technology. With LAPS, components can be economically created with drastically increased production rates, process a broader range of materials, provide superior mechanical properties and while fully integrating quality control and assurance measures. Through the mentor network he was able to access feedback. “All the mentors in the area provide that feedback to help you solve those problems,” he said. And Nussbaum had some advice for those who may enter the Energy Mentor Network in the future. “Always ask questions, even if they’re not about the program. And always feel free to reach out,” he said. “It’s a great area to build a company in, because of that assistance.” Ascend, founded in 2018, has raised $575,000. They have had 7 patent disclosures, 5 of which are related to the technology used at Ascend Manufacturing.

The Energy Mentor Network is run by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council in partnership with Launch Tennessee and is modeled after CONNECT San Diego’s 30+-year-old Springboard program. Each company or entrepreneur is matched with C-level executives who have deep experience in growing and scaling companies. The mentoring team is led by an Entrepreneur-in-Residence who coaches and guides each company through the program. The Energy Mentor Network has more than two dozen mentors with expertise in energy systems, clean tech, intellectual property, business and finance strategy. To learn more, go to

ISI moves downtown

ISI is excited to announce that they have moved their headquarters to downtown Knoxville, Tennessee.

This year has brought many challenges and changes with how we do business in the insurance industry. Many companies have been forced to adjust to accommodate new business practices. To make room for transformation and expansion we have modified the layout of our company, allowing us to further streamline our business processes. We are excited to announce that we have moved our headquarters to downtown Knoxville, Tennessee.

Please note that our move does not change anything for our clients. Everything remains business as usual. We hope when things get back to normal, you will be able to come visit!

Cherokee Distributing Company announces renewed partnership with the Vol Network

Cherokee Distributing Company, a leading beer wholesaler in the state, and the Vol Network, the exclusive producer and marketer of the University of Tennessee athletics program, have worked to serve Tennessee for more than 50 years and have renewed their partnership.

The Sampson family – George W. Sampson founded the distributing company on Jan. 6, 1958 – has a longstanding relationship with The University of Tennessee and the Vol Network. Through the renewed partnership, Cherokee Distributing Company continues its tradition as a proud supporter of the University of Tennessee and exclusive marketing rights holder to University of Tennessee Athletics in the beer and seltzer category. The sponsorship agreement will feature four brands: Coors Light, Dos Equis, Truly Hard Seltzer and Twisted Tea.

a group of people posing for the camera: Cherokee Distributing Company and the Vol Network celebrate renewal of their partnership at Neyland Stadium on the University of Tennessee (UT) campus this fall. Pictured from left: Vol Network General Manager Steve Early; UT Senior Associate Athletics Director Jeneen Lalik; Cherokee Distributing Company Off-Premise Manager Burton Sampson; UT Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer; Cherokee Distributing Company General Manager Jeff Knight; Cherokee Distributing Company Director of Sales Dwayne Light; and Vol Network Executive Director Glenn Thackston.

© Submitted
Cherokee Distributing Company and the Vol Network celebrate renewal of their partnership at Neyland Stadium on the University of Tennessee (UT) campus this fall. Pictured from left: Vol Network General Manager Steve Early; UT Senior Associate Athletics Director Jeneen Lalik; Cherokee Distributing Company Off-Premise Manager Burton Sampson; UT Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer; Cherokee Distributing Company General Manager Jeff Knight; Cherokee Distributing Company Director of Sales Dwayne Light; and Vol Network Executive Director Glenn Thackston.

“We believe that no matter where you are in Tennessee, the Vols and the Vol Network should be synonymous with our lineup of beers,” Cherokee Distributing Company General Manager Jeff Knight said. “We’re thrilled to announce the renewal of this partnership. As an in-state, family-owned company, the University of Tennessee, its fans and the Vol Network are close to our hearts and we’re excited to continue promoting our outstanding beverage brands throughout Big Orange Country.”

Established in 1949, the Vol Network has served as the main communications link between the University of Tennessee and its fans. It oversees the multi-media, marketing and broadcast assets related to University of Tennessee athletics including the statewide 60-plus station Vol Radio Network and interactive social media channels. Cherokee Distributing Company will have enhanced direct access to audiences to promote products in addition to the marketing rights to use the Vol Network’s branding and logo.

“We also welcome the renewed partnership and look forward to promoting Cherokee Distributing Company’s four exclusive brands as proud supporters of the University of Tennessee Volunteers,” Vol Network General Manager Steve Early said. “Now more than ever, we’re looking forward to the return of sports and the fellowship and camaraderie that comes along with being a Vol fan.”

Cherokee Distributing Company will utilize the radio market and merchandising rights across its 61-county footprint in Tennessee to promote Vol Network sponsor brands – Coors Light, Dos Equis, Truly Hard Seltzer and Twisted Tea.

To learn more about Cherokee Distributing Company, visit

MEDIC Regional Blood Center earns AABB accreditation

Knoxville, Tenn. – MEDIC Regional Blood Center has been granted AABB accreditation for Donor Center Activities.

Accreditation follows an intensive on-site assessment by specially trained AABB assessors and establishes that the level of technical and administrative performance within the facility meets or exceeds the standards set by AABB. By successfully meeting those requirements, MEDIC Regional Blood Center joins similar facilities located throughout the United States and around the world.

“The AABB’s Accreditation procedures are voluntary,” according to Director of Communications and Donor Engagement Kristy Altman. “MEDIC sought AABB Accreditation because this program assists facilities around the world in achieving excellence by promoting a level of professional and technical expertise that contributes to quality performance and safety.”

AABB’s Accreditation Program contributes to the quality and safety of collecting, processing, testing, distributing and administering blood and cellular therapy products. The Accreditation Program assesses the quality and operational systems in place within a facility. The basis for assessment is compliance with AABB standards, Code of Federal Regulations and other federal guidance documents.

For more information on MEDIC Regional Blood Center, please visit or call 865-524-3074. For specific media and promotions requests, please contact Director of Communications and Donor Engagement Kristy Altman at 865-521-2663 or via email at [email protected]

MEDIC was established in 1958 by Carl Nelson, MD, under the sponsorship of the Knoxville Academy of Medicine. MEDIC is a nonprofit organization and is the only U.S. blood center which has a Blood Coverage Program covering members’ blood supplier processing fees at any hospital in the country. MEDIC is an accredited member of AABB (formerly American Association of Blood Banks) and America’s Blood Centers (ABC). The center adheres to the blood product safety regulations established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is licensed by the FDA and the State of Tennessee. MEDIC is an independent blood center and not affiliated with the American Red Cross. Today, MEDIC Regional Blood Center is the provider of blood and blood-related products for the 25 area hospitals in 22 counties East Tennessee and Southeastern Kentucky.

Bite Squad expands service in Knoxville, doubles delivery zone in areas, extends delivery hours

Knoxville, TN – Just weeks after announcing it was looking for 200 new drivers, Bite Squad today announced it has doubled, in some places, the range of its delivery zones for restaurant food in Knoxville. The popular app also is extending the hours that people can use the service.

Effective immediately, customers can place orders with Bite Squad beginning at 7:00am through 11:00pm on weekdays, with the closing time extended until 11:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays. The expanded hours and delivery zone give customers more time to order and more choices; restaurants the opportunity for more orders; and drivers the opportunity to make more money – all necessities during these challenging times.

Delivery areas now reach as far as 10 miles away from certain restaurants, which in some cases is double the prior reach. In the last two months alone, the popular app has added more and more local eateries to its platform from many independent neighborhood restaurants, as well as several well-known chains. In total, Bite Squad has 245 partners in the Knoxville area from which to choose.

“We’ve heard from many customers that their favorite restaurant was across town and therefore too far away. Now, with the expanded service, they’ll have easy access to more of their favorite foods,” said Nathan Hubbartt, regional manager for Bite Squad.

Bite Squad along with Waitr connect local restaurants to hungry diners in underserved U.S. markets. Together, they are a convenient way to discover, order and receive great food from local restaurants, national chains and grocery stores. As of June 30, 2020, Waitr and Bite Squad operated in small- and medium-sized markets in the United States in over 700 cities.

McNabb Center partners to provide outpatient behavioral health care to uninsured children

(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services expanded the state’s Behavioral Health Safety Net program to include uninsured children, and the McNabb Center is proud to partner with the state on this initiative.

“The Behavioral Health Safety Net is a foundational program to meet the mental health needs of uninsured Tennesseans, and we are so grateful to Governor Lee and the General Assembly for investing and expanding this program to our children,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW. “Uninsured children in any county will have the ability to get services through our community mental health

providers, and that is amazing.”

The McNabb Center will provide outpatient mental health care to uninsured children through the Behavioral Health Safety Net program in eight East Tennessee counties and surrounding areas: Anderson, Blount, Cocke, Hamblen, Hamilton, Knox, McMinn and Sevier. Children and their families will have access to services including, assessment and evaluation, individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, case

management, transportation, family support services, medication management and pharmacy assistance and coordination.

“It is essential to provide behavioral health care to uninsured children and we know this expansion will make a tremendous difference in the lives of kids and families,” said Jerry Vagnier, McNabb Center president and CEO. “We are proud to be a community mental health center and provide care through this program.”

The McNabb Center is the region’s leading nonprofit provider of mental health, substance use, social and victim services. By focusing on an individual’s “Well Mind, Well Being,” we provide a quality and compassionate approach to care from infancy through adulthood. Since 1948, the Center has proudly served individuals with the most needs and fewest resources. Today, the McNabb Center delivers support to more than 30,000 people throughout East Tennessee each year. For more information, visit or call 1-800-255-9711.

Powerhome Solar responds to Tennessee’s call for green energy with second office

KNOXVILLE, TENN. – POWERHOME SOLAR, one of the fastest-growing American companies specializing in solar energy and efficiency services, is opening a Knoxville-area office, located at 860 Lakemont Dr. in Louisville, and plans to hire up to 100 employees. In April, POWERHOME SOLAR opened its first Tennessee office in Nashville and is quickly expanding within the state.

Even without net metering incentives for customers in the state, POWERHOME SOLAR has found Tennesseans very receptive to adding solar energy. Solar energy accounts for only 0.59 percent of electricity generated in Tennessee, making the Volunteer State one with untapped potential.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that homeowners across the state are interested in owning their power and maintaining a consistent energy payment,” said Jayson Waller, CEO, POWERHOME SOLAR. “The cost of solar power in Tennessee is increasingly affordable, and our panels are financed for roughly the same cost as an electric bill. When the financing ends, so does the payment for solar energy. Based on consumer interest, we need to open a second office to accommodate for our growing customer base.”

POWERHOME SOLAR plans to fill positions for solar panel installers and warehouse personnel. No prior experience is necessary, as POWERHOME SOLAR will offer on-the-job training. Walk-in interviews will be held at the new office location between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6 through Thursday, Oct. 8.

Those interested in joining the Knoxville team also can visit or send an email to [email protected]

POWERHOME SOLAR is an energy efficiency company that provides high-quality American-made solar panels as part of a complete energy-savings package for residential customers. The company launched in 2014 in Mooresville, N.C., and today has nearly 1,500 employees, including a commercial division. Operating in 10 states, it is ranked No. 255 on the 2020 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America – the third time in four years that the company has made the top 300 of this prestigious list. For more information, visit or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Centriworks earns CompTIA Security Trustmark+

Knoxville, TN: Centriworks, East Tennessee’s oldest and largest business technology company, announced today it has received the CompTIA Security Trustmark+ from CompTIA, the non-profit association for the world’s information technology (IT) industry.

The CompTIA Security Trustmark+ validates that Centriworks uses the security processes identified by the IT industry as generally accepted best practices and has been evaluated by an independent third-party assessor as meeting the criteria established by the CompTIA Security Trustmark+. Based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework, the CompTIA Security Trustmark+ is a comprehensive review of the security posture of any IT business, applicable across multiple industries and compliance regulations.

“The CompTIA Security Trustmark+ signifies that Centriworks adheres to our industry’s highest standards for security practices and business processes in critical components of identification, protection, detection, response, and recovery as related to data security,” said Nancy Hammervik, senior vice president, industry relations, CompTIA. “Earning the Security Trustmark+ demonstrates a true commitment to address the challenges of security compliance facing our industry today.”

“I am very proud that our Centriworks team earned the CompTIA Security Trustmark+. It confirms our commitment to quality. It also assures our clients that we can help them meet their industry and government compliance obligations,” said J. Mark DeNicola, CFO /CSO of Centriworks.

To earn the CompTIA Security Trustmark+ Centriworks successfully passed an independent assessment of their security policies, capabilities, practices, and processes against industry best practices in areas such as:

  • Security technologies, including firewalls, anti-Virus/ malware/ spyware, and intrusion detection
  • Vulnerability assessment detection
  • Data encryption
  • Technical employee knowledge/expertise
  • Security clearances and background checks
  • Physical and hardware security
  • Permissions, passwords, and other security requirements

Centriworks is East Tennessee’s largest and oldest business technology company offering Cybersecurity, Managed IT Services, IT Consulting & Software, VOIP Phones, and Hardware to enable clients to focus on their core business. In its 56th year, the company has more than 60 employees at offices in Knoxville and Johnson City. For Centriworks’ complete range of products and services, visit

South College School of Pharmacy receives $8,000 from Walgreens to promote diversity

South College recently received an $8,000 donation from Walgreens to fund a diversity and inclusion student scholarship that promotes programs to attract diversity to the School of Pharmacy.

The purpose of the Walgreens Diversity Scholarship is to recognize student pharmacists who represent a diverse group or underrepresented minority and have an interest in community pharmacy.

a group of people posing for the camera: South College recently received an $8,000 donation from Walgreens to fund a diversity and inclusion student scholarship that promotes programs to attract diversity to the School of Pharmacy. Pictured from left are Keith Ford, Walgreens area healthcare supervisor; Jill Brehmer, director of admissions for the South College School of Pharmacy; Dr. William Gentry, dean of the South College School of Pharmacy; and Scott Leslie, Walgreens district manager.

© Submitted
South College recently received an $8,000 donation from Walgreens to fund a diversity and inclusion student scholarship that promotes programs to attract diversity to the School of Pharmacy. Pictured from left are Keith Ford, Walgreens area healthcare supervisor; Jill Brehmer, director of admissions for the South College School of Pharmacy; Dr. William Gentry, dean of the South College School of Pharmacy; and Scott Leslie, Walgreens district manager.

“We are grateful to Walgreens for its support of diversity in pharmacy education and honored to be chosen as a recipient of these funds,” said Dr. William Gentry, dean of the South College School of Pharmacy. “Having a diverse and inclusive student population is vital to positive outcomes for all of our students both while they are at South College and when they enter the professional ranks as pharmacists.”

South College School of Pharmacy students in their second year are eligible for a $2,000 scholarship, funded by the Walgreens donation. The remaining funds will be used to expand and promote outreach programs to attract diverse students to the school. Minorities currently represent 30 percent of the South College School of Pharmacy student population, and 22 percent were born outside the United States with 27 countries represented.

The donation comes as a result of achievements that the School of Pharmacy has accomplished in striving to serve a diverse population, including its programs.

Each year since 2008, Walgreens has donated more than $1 million in support of diversity in pharmacy education, with approximately half going to students in the form of scholarships and the remainder being provided to accredited pharmacy schools in the United States and Puerto Rico. The funds have increased the enrollment of and provided educational assistance to students in underrepresented communities.

For more information about South College, visit

About South College

South College is a private institution accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award degrees at the doctorate, educational specialist, master’s, baccalaureate, and associate levels. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of South College. For more information, visit

YMCA offers free, six-week STRONG Challenge

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 5, 2020) – Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired in these COVID-19 times? The YMCA of East Tennessee invites the community to participate in a free six-week STRONG challenge designed to help transform spirit, mind and body.

“Now, more than ever before, we need to recharge and refocus,” YMCA of East Tennessee President and CEO Jim Dickson said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has worn us down. It’s isolated us in so many ways. Let’s stop letting life go by and get back to living the life we’ve been given.”

Opt in to the free challenge by texting STRONG to 855-717-9622. Follow the prompts to sign up, and you will receive three texts a week filled with motivation, challenges, workouts and more. The program runs Oct. 19-Nov. 28.

Everyone in the community is invited to work out wherever you are, taking free YMCA online classes like Boot Camp, Yoga and Barre. The challenge also encourages you to take advantage of local outdoor amenities, like the greenway system and Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. But the Y’s STRONG challenge focuses on more than just physical activity, encouraging you to play, rest, connect with your support system, and serve your community. Visit the website to learn more about the STRONG challenge.

“It’s the perfect time to take back our lives, reenergize, achieve goals, feel better and get stronger together, as individuals and as a community,” Dickson added.

McNabb Center receives Tennessee Community CARES grant

(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) The McNabb Center is proud to expand access to care thanks to

a grant award through the Tennessee Community CARES Program. The Center

received $380,200, which will be used for personal protective equipment (PPE)

expenses that have been incurred and will need to be replenished.

This project is funded under a grant contract with the State of Tennessee and the

funds will also be used to provide support to students and families in local schools.

Youth and families in Knox County, Blount County, Maryville city, Lenoir City, Oak

Ridge city and Newport/Cocke County schools will be provided access to resources

to manage issues related to COVID-19, such as anxiety, depression and responding to

positive cases within their communities.

Governor Bill Lee announced the $150 million in Coronavirus Relief funds in July. The

goal of the Tennessee Community CARES Program is to provide funding to nonprofit

organizations to allow them to respond to health and economic needs

stemming from the impacts of COVID-19. The funding, provided through the

Tennessee Department of Human Services, is administered by the United Way of

Greater Knoxville.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed enormous strain on all aspects of our society,

and non-profit organizations are no different,” Governor Lee said. “Non-profits play a

vital role in ensuring Tennesseans’’ needs are met in times of crisis, and it’s

imperative these organizations receive financial support to continue their work.”

The McNabb Center has been able to continue serving individuals with the most

need and fewest resources during the pandemic thanks to grants and community

donations. At the onset of the pandemic, programs across the McNabb Center saw

an increased need for personal protective equipment, telehealth supplies and other

items to ensure services could continue uninterrupted.

“We are thankful for local, state and federal funders, as well as individual and

organizational donors who help us achieve our mission of improving the lives of the

people we serve,” said Jerry Vagnier, McNabb Center president and CEO. “The

Tennessee Community CARES funding will go a long way to positively impact

individuals who are suffering because of the pandemic.”

The McNabb Center is the region’s leading nonprofit provider of mental health,

substance use, social and victim services. By focusing on an individual’s “Well Mind,

Well Being,” we provide a quality and compassionate approach to care from infancy

through adulthood. Since 1948, the Center has proudly served individuals with the

most needs and fewest resources. Today, the McNabb Center delivers support to

more than 30,000 people throughout East Tennessee each year. For more

information, visit or call 1-800-255-9711.

Four ORNL technologies win R&D 100 Awards

Four research teams from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and their technologies have received 2020 R&D 100 Awards.

In lieu of the traditional in-person event, this year’s R&D 100 winners were announced in online events Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, as part of the R&D 100 Conference and Awards.

Established in 1963, the R&D 100 recognizes new commercial products, technologies and materials from around the world for their technological significance. These new wins bring ORNL’s total R&D 100 Awards to 225 since the award’s inception.

“I am extraordinarily proud of the creative and dedicated teams behind these innovative technologies,” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia. “Being named among the R&D 100 is a reflection of the caliber of our staff’s work.”

ORNL researchers and technologies that have been named winners include:

Amanzi-ATS, submitted by Los Alamos National Laboratory and co-developed with ORNL.

This powerful and adaptable simulation software provides an avenue for holistic analysis of complex environmental systems.

Environmental systems are immensely intricate collections of interdependent subsystems that ebb, flow, and interact with each other, with small changes in one part impacting other factors as well. Amanzi-ATS provides a flexible, comprehensive open-source software solution that can be quickly adapted to model environmental systems across scales, addressing problems ranging from climate change impacts to contaminant mitigation.

Funding for this project was provided by the DOE Office of Science Biological and Environmental Research Program, the DOE Office of Environmental Management and laboratory directed research funds from ORNL and LANL.

ORNL’s Ethan Coon, Ahmad Jan and Scott Painter contributed to the development along with David Moulton and Rao Garimella at LANL and the broader Amanzi-ATS team at LANL, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Biomacromolecule Engineering by Soft Chain Coupling Technology, developed by ORNL.

Polylactic acid, or PLA, is a commonly used bioplastic and its biocompatibility, biocompostability, high strength and stiffness make it ideal for use in biomedical devices, films, packaging and 3D printing. However, its brittle nature limits its use in many applications.

ORNL researchers have developed a biomacromolecule soft-coupling technology that improves the ductility and toughness of PLA through a melt-phase process that creates droplets in the polymer microstructure, increasing its toughness up to 20 times compared to the original polymer. This process gives PLA the properties of ductility and super-toughness without sacrificing its tensile strength. 

Funding for this project was provided by the DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Advanced Manufacturing Office.

Soydan Ozcan led the ORNL development team which included Halil Tekinalp, Kai Li, Yu Wang, and Xiangtao Meng.

ChemSitu Microfluidic Technology for In Situ Mass Spectrometric Characterization of Microfluidic Devices, developed by ORNL.

The convergence of microfluidics and biology has produced numerous “biology”-on-a-chip devices that mimic organs, vascular networks and plant-microbe systems, enabling exploration of dynamic biochemical processes. But current devices provide only limited spatial and chemical information.

ORNL’s ChemSitu analysis approach allows in situ quantifiable chemical characterization at any location within the microfluidic device. Analyte is extracted into a flowing solvent probe and characterized by mass spectrometry – allowing for measurement of hundreds of molecules simultaneously.

Enabling mass spectrometry to characterize living biology in microfluidic systems for the first time, ChemSitu’s location-specific chemical profiling may prove invaluable in studying molecular transport across biological interfaces, which is important in toxicology and pharmacology.

Funding for the project came from the DOE Office of Science Biological and Environmental Research, Bioimaging Science Program.

The ORNL team was led by John Cahill and included Vilmos Kertesz and Scott Retterer.

Cobalt-Free Li-ion Battery Cathode Material, developed by ORNL and Sparkz.

Cobalt is a rare, costly and difficult-to-access metal that increases the performance but reduces the safety of lithium-ion batteries found in consumer electronics such as mobile devices and in electric vehicles. The metal is used in a battery’s cathode, the positively charged end that determines much of a battery’s performance.

ORNL researchers have developed a cobalt-free cathode material for use in lithium-ion batteries made with nickel, iron, and aluminum (NFA) in the place of cobalt. The material exhibits electrochemical properties similar to cobalt and demonstrates comparable performance. NFA cathodes can replace cobalt-containing cathodes at a lower-cost, while maintaining performance and creating minimal disruption to the lithium-ion manufacturing process.

Funding for this project was provided by the DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Vehicle Technologies Office.

Ilias Belharouak led the ORNL portion of the development team which included ORNL’s Nitin Muralidharan, Rachid Essehli, Jagjjt Nanda, Mohammad Khaleel; and Sparkz’s Sanjiv Malhotra.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit

490 BioTech wins Innov865 Alliance’s Startup Day; Dr. Peter Tsai is recognized for Global Pandemic Support

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The startup 490 BioTech, which developed bioluminescent human cells to show changes in cellular health, won the Innov865 Judges’ Choice Award at Startup Day 2020 with a pitch that explained how its technology can improve development of pharmaceuticals.

“Healthy happy cells are bright, sick cells go dim, and dead cells go dark,” 490 BioTech co-founder and CEO Dan Close said. “Our product provides continuous information about a drug’s effect on human health so pharmaceutical companies can operate more efficiently.”

As winner, his company will receive a $7,000 cash prize that they will use to develop its business further. 490 BioTech was named among several winners during Innov865 Week, which celebrates entrepreneurship and innovation in Knoxville and the region.  He and others pitched their businesses on Startup Day, Tuesday, Sept. 29.

Winners were named in an awards ceremony on Friday, Oct. 2 that included the judges’ choice, 490 BioTech; the Innov865 Crowd Favorite prize, presented by BB&T and SunTrust Bank, now Truist, was given to Quantum Lock; and the first recipient of the Innov865 Impact Award, presented by Verizon, was named – N95 mask developer Dr. Peter Tsai.

The look and feel of Innov865 Week may have been a little different, but the excitement of the eighth annual Startup Day was woven throughout the a week of virtual events designed to introduce investors to burgeoning startups in the process of gaining traction in the market.

The festivities started with a discussion from University of Tennessee President and entrepreneur Randy Boyd during a Facebook Live segment on Monday morning, followed by the Spark Innovation Center Showcase on Monday afternoon. On Tuesday nearly 200 attendees heard from Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon and then were introduced to six investable pitchers in what was deemed by judges as the closest Startup Day to date. The virtual “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition included previously taped pitches and virtual question and answer sessions hosted on the local startup virtual platform Lunchpool.

Quantum Lock, co-founded by Erica Grant, won the $3,000 Innov865 Crowd Favorite prize as voted on by viewers of the competition on Startup Day.

Quantum Lock creates random, untraceable combinations for locks that prevent hackers from doing things such as creating a master key for hotel rooms, among other safeguards. Later plans for Quantum Lock’s technology include securing the energy grid, hospitals, homes, smartphones and personal security.

“Encouraging entrepreneurs to creatively solve problems and build businesses is one way Truist delivers on its purpose of inspiring and building better lives and communities, said Christian Corts, regional president for BB&T | SunTrust now Truist, East Tennessee. “We appreciate the hard work and ingenuity of all of Startup Day’s participants, and congratulate Quantum Lock and Erica Grant as the crowd favorite award winner for Startup Day 2020.”

The inaugural Innov865 Impact Award, presented by Verizon, was given to Peter Tsai, University of Tennessee researcher who developed the N95 mask material.

“Verizon is proud to present the inaugural Innov865 Impact Award, and pleased to announce the winner, Peter Tsai,” said Thomas Green, Managing Partner for Government and Public Safety at Verizon. “As the architect behind the essential technology in N95 masks, his work is essential to the global response for fighting the pandemic. This is the kind of life-changing technology that the Innov865 Impact Award presented by Verizon is meant to highlight.”

The Innov865 Impact Award recognizes an inventor who has made a positive impact in the fight against COVID-19. Tsai, a research faculty member at the University of Tennessee Department of Material Science and Engineering, used a method called electrostatic charging to develop the N95 mask material, which filters out 95 percent of particles from air that wearers breathe through the mask. Front-line healthcare workers and others use the N95 mask as part of the essential personal protective equipment they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tsai then participated in a fireside chat with Lonnie Love of ORNL, moderated by Jon Sheiber with TechCrunch, in which he explained his work.

“I did not expect this. It’s just happened by chance,” Tsai said. “My invention is an ordinary invention.”  However, Tsai’s invention has had an extraordinary impact. Dr. Tsai retired two years ago, but the global pandemic caused a shortage of N95 masks. Earlier this year, he worked with labs and manufacturers to teach others how to make the materials and safely reuse N95 masks.

About the Startup Day winners

Innov865 Judges Choice: 490 BioTech – The Knoxville-based 490 BioTech makes bioluminescent human cells capable of continuously producing a visual light signal that adjusts in real-time to represent changes in cellular health. The company’s glowing cells can be used by pharmaceutical companies in their efforts to develop safer, more effective, and less expensive medicines. 490 BioTech serves the academic, commercial, industrial, and government research community by providing high quality bioluminescent cell lines that don’t require external luciferin treatments to function.

Their patented genetic architecture allows their cell lines to produce their own luciferin internally, allowing for continuous light production throughout the life of a culture.

Cofounder and CSO: Dan Close

Innov865 Crowd Favorite prize, presented by BB&T and SunTrust Bank, now Truist: Quantum Lock – Quantum Lock is developing a smart lock system that is more secure than many current smartphone-based key systems. Quantum Lock’s technology uses quantum physics to generate keys that are random and untraceable. Quantum Lock’s premier product, Gamma Lock, is a smart phone or key fob based smart lock which is built to secure guests at Bed and Breakfasts and hotels.

Cofounder: Erica Grant

About the Innov865 Alliance and Innov865 Week’s Startup Day

Innov865 Week is a weeklong series of events that celebrates Knoxville’s entrepreneurial spirit by bringing together startups, entrepreneurs, makers, investors, business leaders, students, and community leaders from across East Tennessee for a week of educational panels, pitch competitions, investor roundtables, and social events. It is presented by the Innov865 Alliance, a coalition that develops, supports, and promotes the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Founding members of the Innov865 Alliance include the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, PYA, UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Three Roots Capital, Tennessee Valley Authority, Launch Tennessee, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, the University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm, and Bunker Labs Knoxville. To learn more, visit

Helen Ross McNabb Center announces name change to McNabb Center

(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) Helen Ross McNabb Center, the region’s leading provider of

behavioral health services, announced that it has changed its name to

McNabb Center, effective immediately.

“Mrs. Helen Ross McNabb founded the organization in 1948 and it has since evolved

to serve individuals from infancy through adulthood,” said Jerry Vagnier, president

and CEO of the McNabb Center. “Mrs. McNabb left a legacy of compassion that

continues to inspire us to serve those with the most need in our community.”

The McNabb Center is undertaking a brand refresh to become more identifiable

within the communities it serves. Over the next year, the Center will roll out its new

logo, highlighting its focus on “Well Mind, Well Being.”

“The McNabb Center provides mental health, substance use, victim and social

services across East Tennessee,” Vagnier said. “The focus of ‘Well Mind, Well Being’

speaks to the whole person approach to the care we provide.”

While the logo and name are changing, the Center’s dedication to delivering the

highest quality care is not. The Center’s mission has been and continues to be;

improving the lives of the people we serve.

In addition to the name change, the Center has refreshed its website to provide

clients with easier access to care:

The McNabb Center is the region’s leading nonprofit provider of mental health,

substance use, social and victim services. By focusing on an individual’s “Well Mind,

Well Being,” we provide a quality and compassionate approach to care from infancy

through adulthood. Since 1948, the Center has proudly served individuals with the

most needs and fewest resources. Today, the McNabb Center delivers support to

more than 30,000 people throughout East Tennessee each year. For more

information, visit or call 1-800-255-9711.

Y-12 conducts successful emergency exercise during pandemic

Oak Ridge, Tenn. – The Y-12 National Security Complex successfully conducted its first full-scale emergency exercise since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Y-12 regularly conducts emergency exercises and drills with various scenarios to ensure it can effectively respond to potential emergencies, but the September 1 exercise was the first to include the pandemic safety protocols established by Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS), which operates the site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Approximately 290 personnel were directly involved in the exercise as responders and exercise control personnel, and all successfully implemented COVID-19 controls.

“Conducting a full scale exercise during the COVID-19 epidemic was a huge challenge as the primary consideration was the health and safety of personnel during the exercise,” said Jon Pack, Emergency Management Program Manager. “An exercise safety plan is always utilized for an exercise, but this exercise plan addressed the new hazard of possible COVID-19 exposure.

Throughout the exercise “there was excellent adherence to the COVID-19 controls,” said Susan Morris, NNSA Production Office’s Assistant Manager for Environment, Safety, Health and Quality.

Independent observers from the Department of Energy’s Office of Enterprise Assessments agreed, concluding in their field notes that “NPO and CNS demonstrated that Y-12 can effectively respond to an Operational Emergency while operating under COVID-19 pandemic protocols.”

CNS had already implemented safety protocols, such as mandatory mask usage and social distancing, for the site. Exercise participants adhered to those measures “with some additional actions such as placing Plexiglas shields in some areas of our emergency centers where maintaining six feet social distancing was problematic,” Pack said.

“The most important thing for the general public to understand is that by continuing to perform complex Emergency Management exercises during the COVID-19 epidemic, the Y-12 Site demonstrates the ability to effectively respond to an operational emergency while operating under COVID-19 epidemic protocols in order to ensure that appropriate response measures can be taken to protect the worker, the public, the environment, and national security.”

The previous month, the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, completed its successful full-scale emergency exercise, the first this year in the DOE Complex to be held with COVID-19 pandemic protocols in place. CNS manages both Y-12 and Pantex and had established pandemic protocols at both sites.

Merchant & Gould receives Mansfield Certification for 3.0 Version, boosting diversity efforts

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 29, 2020 — Merchant & Gould P.C., a national intellectual property (IP) law firm with a Knoxville office, has achieved Mansfield Certification status for 2020, after completing a 12-month self-study designed to boost the representation of diverse lawyers in firm leadership.  Created by Diversity Lab, a data company that leverages research and behavior, the Mansfield Rule certification measures whether law firms have affirmatively considered women, attorneys of color, LGBTQ+ attorneys, and attorneys with disabilities — at least 30 percent of the candidate pool — for recruitment, governance roles, equity partner promotions, and inclusion in formal pitch presentations to clients. 

“More than ever, it’s important to reaffirm our commitment to each other and to our legal community.  We continue the dialog about diversity, inclusion and equality, and we continue to boost diverse leadership and representation,” said Christopher J. Leonard, Merchant & Gould’s Managing Director, CEO, and Chairman of the Board.  “The data we have collected during the Mansfield Certification process has been informing new policies and outcomes, benefiting our firm, clients and industry.”

Merchant & Gould was one of 100 law firms completing the certification program, a designation meant to ensure representative promotion processes at law firms — moving toward a larger goal of diversifying industry-wide leadership as inclusively and effectively as possible.   The Mansfield Rule aims to boost the representation of diverse lawyers in law firm leadership by broadening the pool of candidates considered for these roles and opportunities.

“We’ve participated for two years and have already seen changes in more diverse client teams and hiring.  We have also opened our firm’s leadership to reflect a broader coalition of attorneys having various backgrounds.  It’s more than an initiative to us; these actions are part of our firm’s culture and core values,” added Andrew L. Jagenow, Merchant & Gould’s Diversity Committee Chair. 

Merchant & Gould participated in the previous iteration of the Mansfield Rule and achieved Mansfield 2.0 Certification in 2019, in addition to the Version 3.0 just earned.  The firm continues its work to advance diversity throughout the legal industry.

Recognized on the Forbes list of “America’s Top Trusted Corporate Law Firms 2019,” Merchant & Gould P.C. is a national intellectual property (IP) law firm with approximately 100 attorneys in offices in Knoxville, Tenn.; Minneapolis; New York; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; and Denver.  Founded in Minneapolis in 1900, the firm has grown to become one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the United States, representing the worldwide intellectual property interests of clients in diverse industries and technologies.

Merchant & Gould helps sole inventors, emerging and established companies, universities, venture capitalists, and Fortune 500 and 100 companies stay ahead of the curve to gain leverage in new and existing markets.  The firm handles every phase of IP prosecution and enforcement, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, as well as licensing, due diligence, opinions and counseling, in all areas of technology.   As the pace of global innovation surges, intellectual property has become an increasingly integral and valuable part of business.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Knoxville Biz Ticker: Soaky Mountain Waterpark food drive raises $3,000

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