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VOL. 43 | NO. 39 | Friday, September 27, 2019

SmartFinancial makes fastest-growing list

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Knoxville-based SmartFinancial, the parent company of SmartBank, was named to Fortune’s annual 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list, ranking No. 55 among the world’s top performers.

It is SmartFinancial’s first appearance on the list, which includes some of world’s leading companies, including Netflix, Amazon and Facebook.

The Fortune 100 Fastest-Growing Companies are publicly traded companies ranked each year by revenue growth rate, EPS growth rate and three-year annualized total return. SmartFinancial achieved growth rates of 42%, 37% and 11%, respectively. The overall rank is based on the sum of three ranks.

“This is quite an honor for our company to be recognized alongside some of the most influential businesses in the world,” says Miller Welborn, SmartBank Chairman of the Board. “I am very proud of the hard work of our team as their dedication and commitment continue to set us apart and truly fuels our growth.”

SmartFinancial, has 397 associates, $2.3 billion in total assets and 29 branches across three states.

IBM computer headed to UT

IBM has made an agreement with the University of Tennessee’s Tickle College of Engineering that includes the awarding of high-performance computing hardware based on the same technology as the world’s most powerful supercomputer, Summit, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The agreement was spurred by Mark Dean, former interim dean, who is an IBM Fellow and holds three of the company’s first nine patents related to personal computing.

Where Summit takes up a warehouse-sized space, UT’s system will be located in the Claxton Complex, giving exclusive access to the same IBM POWER9 technology at a scaled-down level.

The Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science will be home to the installation, allowing it to foster new means of education and breakthroughs in research in the world of high-performance computing.

“Computer science and engineering play critical roles in an ever-changing world, contributing innovative solutions to smart connected products and systems for transportation, health care, sustainability, security, manufacturing, energy production and learning,” said Janis Terpenny, Wayne T. Davis Endowed Dean’s chair at the college. “Our relationship with IBM has allowed our faculty and students to flourish in these vital areas, while at the same time providing the company the data it needs to drive future decisions. I couldn’t be happier about our engagement in this win-win scenario.”

Jamie Thomas, general manager of IBM systems strategy and development, says, “IBM has a long history of supporting academic and industrial partnerships through diverse initiatives. It’s particularly important to educate the next generation of data specialists, and to give them the opportunity to work on a system with a similar architecture to the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

“We’re delighted to enable the faculty and students to explore the next generation of data and AI problems across industries.”

Bailey purchased by EBSCO Capital

Bailey International, headquartered in Knoxville, has been acquired by EBSCO Capital.

Bailey is an industry leader in the manufacturing and distribution of mobile hydraulic power solutions.

“A strong market position; complementary sourcing, manufacturing and distribution capabilities; a multichannel sales approach serving a diverse customer base; a deep-rooted commitment to customer service; and a proven and talented team made Bailey an ideal acquisition for EBSCO Industries,” says Nathan Bouknight, managing director of EBSCO Capital.

For more than 40 years, Bailey has served a diverse group of mobile equipment OEMs, distributors and aftermarket customers - providing a broad range of hydraulic and electro-hydraulic components. With a product selection of more than 5,000 standard items, Bailey serves a diverse range of customers in transportation, agriculture, construction, and other mobile hydraulic end markets.

“I cannot imagine a better partner than EBSCO,” says Bailey’s CEO, Ken Baker. “Their track record of acquiring and organically growing strong and durable businesses, commitment to our growth strategy, significant capital position, long-term point-of-view, shared values in excellent customer service, and thriving entrepreneurial culture make this transition even more exciting. The Bailey team and I look forward to the even stronger company we will create together with EBSCO.”

State grant money for transportation alternatives

The state has announced its Transportation Alternatives Grants, including grants to East Tennessee areas.

The total statewide grants are $13,669,998, made possible through a federally funded program and administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Grants in East Tennessee have been given to these towns and cities:

Cleveland: Greenway – Phase 6: Construction of a multimodal greenway along SR-2 (Keith Street) from Willow Street to Inman Street. Project also includes ADA compliance, landscaping, a pedestrian bridge, elevated crosswalk, retaining wall(s) and pedestrian signals.

Clinton: Pedestrian Improvements: Construction of sidewalks along SR-9 (N. Main Street) from N. Hicks Street to Lakefront Park Trail. Project also includes pedestrian signals, striping and ADA compliance.

Gatlinburg and Sevier County: Memorial and Tribute Project: Construction of sidewalks for access to three memorial and tribute sites. Project also includes pedestrian bridge(s), retaining wall(s), ADA compliance, landscaping, pedestrian lighting and pedestrian amenities.

LaFollette: Downtown improvements – Phase 3: Construction of sidewalks along the west side of SR-9 (Indiana Avenue) from N. Tennessee Avenue to Beech Street. Project also includes ADA compliance, brick stamp pavers, striping, pedestrian lighting and pedestrian amenities.

Newport: Greenway – Phase 2: Construction of a 10-foot wide greenway along the Pigeon River from McSween Road to Main Street. Project also includes ADA compliance, retaining wall(s), landscaping and pedestrian amenities.

Blount Development Board recognized

The Blount County Economic Development Board was honored recently with the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy.

The board was nominated by Pellissippi State Community College for its early pledge of $1 million on behalf of Blount County and the cities of Alcoa and Maryville to support the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center that will be built on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

The $16.5 million development center is being funded by a public-private partnership: $5.5 million raised by the Pellissippi State Foundation, $5.7 million from TCAT Knoxville capacity expansion funds and $5.3 million from the state.

“With shared space for high school dual enrollment, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Pellissippi State and incumbent worker training, the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center will ensure that students are ready to enter the workforce with great local employers such as Arconic, Blount Memorial Hospital, DENSO and Clayton Homes,’’ says Danni Varlan, regent.

“This is a different path than most of our projects take,” says Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “State building projects usually wait on a list for about 18 years. The conversations we’ve had with business and industry leaders and (Blount Partnership CEO and President) Bryan Daniels indicated that, with the job growth in Blount County, we were pretty sure we didn’t have 18 years to wait.”

“Blount County is just rocking it,” Varlan says. “Since 2012, Blount County has added 6,000 new jobs and $2.9 billion in capital investment.”

BarberMcMurry Architects is working on the project and will present plans to the state building commission in October.

The 51,000-square-foot Development Center will include proposed Pellissippi State programming for Computer Information Technology, Culinary Arts and Engineering Technology concentrations such as Automated Industrial Systems and Industrial Maintenance.

Ramps replacement construction begins

The Jackson Avenue ramps project is underway, closing a short section of the street to replace the two structurally deficient, 100-year-old ramps connecting to Gay Street.

The ramps will be demolished and replaced, and the red cobblestone-like bricks will be removed during the demolition and put back in place as part of the new construction. The new ramps, which will closely resemble the historic ramps, are expected to reopen in September 2020.

The total project cost is $8.2 million. The contractor is Bell & Associates Construction.

While the ramps are being replaced, there will be no through traffic on that section of Jackson Avenue between Broadway and Central Street. Access will be maintained in the coming year to area businesses and to the City’s parking lot on West Jackson Avenue. Motorists wishing to park in the lot will need to access it by turning onto West Jackson from Broadway.

Traffic on Gay Street overhead will not be affected.

East-west pedestrian access through the construction zone on Jackson Avenue will be maintained during the project. A brightly colored metal staircase at the southern end of the Gay Street Viaduct will provide pedestrian access between Gay Street and Jackson.

Calling all entrepreneurs in Clinton, Athens

The Knoxville Entrepreneur Center will offer multiple Co.Starters classes this fall in Clinton and Athens.

Co.Starters teaches business plan 2.0, a model discovery process. Participants identify and test business assumptions through customer interactions, develop a functioning business model, learn valuable management and marketing skills, and receive constructive feedback from adviser, peers and former grads.

Aspiring entrepreneurs or those who have a product or service ready to launch are welcome.

The only real prerequisites are: having a business idea you’re ready, willing and excited to share and work on; and a willingness to study, shape and fine-tune that idea in a supportive, collaborative and welcoming environment.

Clinton, Oct. 1-Dec. 3. Hollingsworth Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. $150.

Athens, Oct. 7-Dec. 2, The Lite House. $150.

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