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VOL. 45 | NO. 6 | Friday, February 5, 2021

Pinnacle Award winners announced

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The Knoxville Chamber’s Annual Pinnacle Awards for 2021 will celebrate its winners in a virtual event Feb. 19.

Winners, from among 300 nominations, have been announced.

“The Pinnacle Business Awards recognize organizations and individuals whose success is having a positive impact on our region’s economic vitality and sustainability,” says Mike Odom, Knoxville Chamber president and chief executive officer. “Their contributions and commitment enhance our quality of life and drive economic prosperity for everyone living in Knoxville and the surrounding counties.”

The 17th annual celebration, scheduled as a virtual event beginning at 11:45 a.m., will formally honor the companies that are committed to driving regional economic prosperity and being models of business excellence.

The winners by category are:

• Impact Award – Accenture, a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security.

• Innovator Award – Integrity Laboratories, a Knoxville-based health care company serving its clients by providing comprehensive, state-of-the-art clinical laboratory testing with the highest standards of honesty, transparency and integrity.

• Small Business Excellence Award – Big Slate Media, one of Knoxville’s top content creation agencies that helps brands produce consistent, relevant content that makes a lasting impact.

• Minority-Owned Business Excellence Award – Boston Government Services, LLC, an engineering, technology and security firm supporting missions of national importance across the U.S., including research laboratories, security facilities, nuclear operations, environmental cleanup and government programs.

• Woman-Owned Business Excellence Award – Barre Skinny LLC, dba Neighborhood Barre. Founded by Katy Richardson in 2011, the fitness studio now has 15 brick-and-mortar studios across the Southeast with two more locations slated to open in 2021.

• Mid-Sized Business Excellence Award – The Trust Company of Tennessee, founded in 1987 and currently managing more than $3.5 billion with more than 75 employees.

• Large Business Excellence Award – The Christman Company, founded in 1894, now has more than 4 billion in dollars in construction across a variety of markets and is ranked No. 88 in the Engineering News-Record’s list of top national contractors.

• Young Entrepreneur Award – Bobby Haines of Haines Structural Group, originally the Knoxville branch of a Memphis-based company that he acquired and rebranded in 2017.

Ceremony registration

Entrepreneur Magazine honors Ripley PR

Ripley PR, a Maryville-based national public relations agency specializing in franchising, skilled trades and B2B, has been named by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the nation’s Top Franchise PR Agencies.

This is the third year in a row Ripley has been named to this prestigious list of franchise suppliers.

Ripley PR offers strategic communications services, including crisis management, media relations and social media strategies with a focus on franchise development.

Created to recognize companies that support and provide services to franchises, the Top Franchise Suppliers rankings are determined by a survey of more than 700 franchisors in 10 categories. The survey asks suppliers’ clients to rate them on the quality, cost and value of the services they provide.

Ripley PR was founded in 2013 by owner Heather Ripley, who had previously worked at Clockwork Home Services, franchisor of One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and Mister Sparky. The agency currently represents several franchisors, including AlphaGraphics, FirstLight Home Care, Gotcha Covered, and Tint World Automotive Styling Centers.

Patricia Nash Designs hires Evolution USA

Knoxville-based Patricia Nash Designs, a designer brand of leather handbags, jewelry and accessories, has named Evolution USA as the licensing and brand management agency for relevant category extensions.

Evolution is tapped with developing and managing a full-scale licensing program including identifying retail and licensee partnerships with initial focus on the North American market.

The Patricia Nash brand, inspired by travel, memories, vintage craftsmanship and a sense of family, will focus on natural category extensions that preserve the integrity and quality of the brand. Newly licensed categories will include a broad assortment of indoor and outdoor home furnishings and housewares, tabletop and drinkware, women’s dresses and resort wear, women’s swimsuits and cover-ups, sleepwear and slippers, and an extended line of accessories including watches, sunglasses, gifts and candles, stationery and paper goods and pet accessories.

ACC of TN reduces costs, generates savings

Collaborative Health Systems has announced the Accountable Care Coalition of Tennessee, LLC generated $21.2 million in shared savings for performance years 2018 and 2019, according to figures released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

With a focus on reducing the total cost of care for patients in East Tennessee, ACC of Tennessee was formed in 2018 by Summit Medical Group and Collaborative Health Systems, and the coalition participates in the CMS Next Generation Accountable Care Organization Model.

Summit Medical Group has primary care offices across East Tennessee in the following counties: Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Cocke, Greene, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, McMinn, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Sevier and Union.

In addition to founding member Summit Medical Group, the ACC of Tennessee includes primary care practice participants and specialty health care collaborators across the region, such as Knoxville-based Gastrointestinal Associates, Premier Surgical, Tennessee Eye Care and University Eye Specialists.

In performance year 2019, the ACC of Tennessee, which is in its second year in the Next Generation ACO Model:

• Served more than 22,000 Medicare beneficiaries across Tennessee

• Achieved an overall quality score of 99%

• Generated $15.9 million in shared savings – a 200% increase from performance year 2018.

Knoxville Marathon postponed till fall 2022

The 17th annual Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon will be postponed until fall 2021.

Due to the surge in COVID-19 cases in Tennessee and potential restrictions on public gatherings as a result, all races and supporting events are canceled for the tentative race weekend of March 27-28.

The Knoxville Track Club and Covenant Health continue to work with city and state officials, as well as sponsors and other partners, to confirm 2021 scheduling and plan a safe, in-person race weekend.

Specific dates will be announced as soon as possible.

Everyone who deferred registration from 2020 to the 2021 Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon will be able to participate in the fall event as planned. Once specific dates are confirmed, race participants will be contacted by the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon via email with all related registration options. New participants also can register at

Haslam’s MBA No. 19 in Economist rankings

The University of Tennessee’s Haslam College of Business MBA climbed to No. 19 among public schools, up from No. 22 last year, in The Economist’s MBA 2021 MBA and Business School rankings.

The Economist’s annual MBA ranking is one the four most highly regarded such assessments, along with U.S. News & World Report, Bloomberg Businessweek and The Financial Times.

The Haslam School also moved from No. 79 last year to No. 54 among all programs worldwide this year. Additionally, the program was ranked No. 7 worldwide for alumni rating of career services and No. 16 worldwide for educational experience, including student assessment of facilities and services, access to international programs and range of electives available.

Bruce Behn, associate dean for graduate and executive education, says students, alumni and employers depend on Haslam’s MBA to return a superior ROI.

The Economist’s ranking was based on data taken from two surveys. The first covered quantitative factors such as graduate salaries, average GMAT scores and number of registered alumni, which accounted for around 80% of the ranking. The remaining percentage drew on a qualitative survey filled out by current MBA students and schools’ most recent graduating MBA class, rating such elements as the quality of the faculty, facilities and career services department.

UT Legal Clinic receives grant to fight racism

The University of Tennessee College of Law Legal Clinic has been awarded a $3,000 grant to fund a project that will enable it to be more responsive to communities of color most harmed by systemic and structural racism.

In the wake of the George Floyd murder, the Legal Clinic faculty committed to embark on a listening process with the communities most harmed by systemic racism. The grant, funded through the UT Division of Diversity and Engagement, helps the clinic work toward that goal with its Racial Justice Listening Project. The project is designed to learn more about the challenges and opportunities in Knoxville’s African American and immigrant communities.

“The Legal Clinic has always provided legal representation to people of color in Knoxville who could not afford a lawyer and responded to requests from local community groups,” Legal Clinic Director Joy Radice says. “The uniqueness of this project is that it aims to listen and respond more intentionally.”

ETSU’s Climate Office officially recognized

Tennessee’s state Climate Office at East Tennessee State University has been officially recognized by the American Association of State Climatologists

The office has been fulfilling the basic responsibilities of a state climate office since its establishment in 2016, providing climate data services to state agencies, researchers and citizens and studying the impact of drought, extreme rainfall, severe storms and other hazards. An earlier state climate office had operated under the direction of the Tennessee Valley Authority but ceased operations in 2006.

The TCO at ETSU is led by Dr. Andrew Joyner and Wil Tollefson, state climatologist and assistant state climatologist, respectively. Joyner is an associate professor and Tollefson is a lecturer in the Department of Geosciences in ETSU’s College of Arts and Sciences.

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