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VOL. 43 | NO. 7 | Friday, February 15, 2019

UT’s economic impact passes $9 billion mark

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The University of Tennessee is estimating an economic impact of $9.094 billion across the state for fiscal year 2017.

The study includes UT and its campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin, as well as the Health Science Center in Memphis, the Space Institute in Tullahoma and the statewide Institute of Agriculture and Institute for Public Service.

The economic impact was calculated in part through research by UT’s Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research, and used payroll spending and fringe benefits, non-payroll spending, jobs created through system-related spending and tax revenues.

UT campuses directly contributed $3.5 billion in economic impact in fiscal year 2017, according to the Boyd Center. Coupled with previous studies of the direct and indirect economic contributions of the UT Health Science Center, Ag Extension, client-reported impact of the UT Institute for Public Service and UT Knoxville athletics, UT’s annual impact comes to more than $9 billion.

Moreover, this figure does not include the significant role UT has in co-managing Oak Ridge National Laboratory with its more than 4,000 employees and $2.2 billion budget.

Systemwide enrollment is nearly 50,000 students, including graduate and undergraduate students, and the system employs about 25,000 faculty, staff and student workers.

World Choice adds dinner theaters

World Choice Investments, the operating partner of Dolly Parton’s dinner theaters, has announced it will expand its dinner theater holdings to seven.

The company will purchase three theaters and a restaurant from David Fee and Jim Hedrick’s Fee Hedrick Entertainment in Pigeon Forge.

Parton’s enterprise now operates in Branson and Myrtle Beach, and with the purchase will have five theater attractions in Pigeon Forge.

“David Fee and his staff have been great competition for us over the years,” says Fred Hardwick, chairman of the board of World Choice.

“All of these theaters provide a great opportunity for us to package our shows in an affordable way and to focus with Dollywood to bring people to the area.’’

TVA operating revenues increase year over year

The Tennessee Valley Authority has reported $2.7 billion in operating revenues for the three-month period ending Dec. 31.

That is a 7 percent increase from the same period a year ago.

The higher revenues were driven by electricity sales of 38.1 billion kilowatt-hours, a 2 percent increase in sales from the prior year, due to colder than normal weather in TVA’s service territory during the quarter. During November 2018, TVA recorded its second-highest peak power demand ever for the month of November, at 26,714 megawatts at a systemwide average temperature of 24 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fuel and purchased power expense was 6 percent higher than last year, primarily due to a $77 million increase in power purchased to meet increased demand. Operating and maintenance expense for the quarter was up $99 million, or 15 percent higher than last year, driven in part by an increase of $54 million related to accelerated recovery of certain regulatory assets, as well as an increase in planned nuclear outage days.

Holiday Inn World’s Fair, Tennessean Hotel sold

Nicholas G. Cazana, managing partner of The Tennessean Hotel and the Holiday Inn World’s Fair Park, has announced an agreement has been reached to sell the two hotels.

Cazana is the president of Commercial and Investment Properties in Knoxville.

“This has been a difficult decision,” Cazana says. “But the companies purchasing and managing the two hotels have an extensive amount of experience, know-how and capital to take the properties to the next level.”

Rockbridge Capital is the intended buyer of the hotels, which will be managed by Aimbridge Hospitality. The purchase price was not released but closing is expected shortly.

Rockbridge is an investment company with more than 200 hospitality properties in 38 states valued at more than $5 billion. Rockbridge plans to retain all current employees.

Aimbridge Hospitality is the nation’s largest independent hotel investment and management firm. It provides management, asset management, development, renovation and consulting services. The firm manages about 800 hotels and is a preferred operator for Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt, Hilton, Embassy, Wyndham and Hard Rock.

Blackberry Farm gives back to Blount County

The Blackberry Farm Foundation has announced gifts for Blount County charities totaling $170,000.

This year’s recipients include Heritage High School, Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center, Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, Walland Elementary School, Boys & Girls Club of Blount County, Harmony Family Center and Special Opps Inc.

The grants focus on charitable organizations that provide services, education and support for children and foodways related causes. With the opening of the Beall family’s newest resort, Blackberry Mountain, the Foundation expanded its giving to organizations that provide educational opportunities around art, conservation and environmental sciences.

Hi-Wire to build South Knoxville taproom

Asheville, North Carolina’s Hi-Wire Brewing is expanding its distribution to Knoxville.

A new retail taproom, Hi-Wire’s fourth, will be located just across the Tennessee River from downtown, in South Knoxville.

The 10,187-square-foot taproom will be a part of a mixed-use building at 906 Sevier Ave. Hi-Wire will have the entire second floor, including a 455-occupant taproom, two outdoor decks – one of which is a rooftop with views of downtown – and 24 taps.

The space will be game and activity heavy, featuring two soccer pool tables, table tennis, shuffleboard, foosball and more. The bar will feature Hi-Wire’s full lineup of beers, including year-round, seasonal, specialty, sour and one-offs, as well as wine, local cider, and guest taps from neighboring Knoxville breweries.

Hi-Wire is partnering with S2 Construction for the space buildout and worked with Tim Duff with Realty Executives Commercial as the leasing agent for its Knoxville taproom. Construction is scheduled to be completed this summer.

UT’s Robotics team No. 2 internationally

The University of Tennessee’s Team YNOT is currently ranked second in the world in the 2019 Vex U Competitive Robotics Program’s autonomous-programming and driver-skills standings.

The team also mentors younger teams in the Knoxville area, creating an alliance of middle and high school teams coached by YNOT members.

The impact of this collaboration was recognized and praised by judges at the 2018 Vex Robotics World Championship.

At this event, Team YNOT received the prestigious Community Award, presented to the university-level team that demonstrated the most meaningful leadership and influence toward promoting STEM education in their local community.

Team founder Grant Kobes is a sophomore honors engineering student studying industrial engineering and minoring in leadership studies. He created a strategic leadership plan for YNOT as a member of last year’s inaugural class of students in the university’s Honors Leadership Program.

Pellissippi to expand on two campuses

Pellissippi State Community College has announced its largest expansion in 44 years and will build a science and math building on its Hardin Valley Campus in Knoxville and a workforce development center on its Blount County Campus in Friendsville.

Pellissippi State plans to break ground on the new science and math building in spring and open it in fall 2021. The college plans to break ground on the workforce development center in December 2019, and classes will start there in fall 2021.

The total project cost for the construction of the new science and math building is $27 million. The cost for the construction of the workforce development center is $16.5 million.

The new 82,000-square-foot science and math building will help Pellissippi State meet demands for classrooms and lab spaces that have increased due to Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, last-dollar scholarships offered to high school seniors and adults without college degrees, respectively.

Blount County has experienced $2.8 billion in new capital investment and announced 5,500 new jobs since 2011, according to the Blount Partnership. Pellissippi State’s new 62,000-square-foot workforce development center will help fill the area’s need for highly skilled, college-educated employees.

Lonsdale school celebrates 100 years

Sam E. Hill Primary School, founded in 1919, is celebrating its centennial in February.

The school is in Knoxville’s Lonsdale community and moved into its current building in 1951.

The school has served pre-K students, but last fall a new class of kindergartners came to the school. Next year Hill will add a class of first-graders, completing the transition to a primary school.

During the segregation era, Sam E. Hill was an elementary school for African-American students, many of whom went on to Beardsley Junior High and Austin High School.

The anniversary celebration comes as the school and community are in a period of transition. Sam E. Hill has welcomed many students from West Africa, Mexico and Central America in recent years, and 13 languages are spoken by students.

UT tops in Bloomberg terminal certifications

The University of Tennessee certifies more students to use Bloomberg terminals than any other institution in the world, according to the financial data vendor.

An average of 1,200 students a year in the Haslam College of Business earn a Bloomberg Market Concepts certification, which allows them to use the college’s 20 terminals.

UT, which has the most terminals of any school in the Southeastern Conference, is one of the few business schools to integrate Bloomberg training into its curriculum.

“This is important because not only does it distinguish our business program, it gives our students a chance to leverage assets in the college and develop skills they will use outside in the work world,” says Laura Cole, director of the college’s Masters Investment Learning Center.

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