Publication puts UT Law on Top 10 list

Friday, November 19, 2021, Vol. 45, No. 47

PreLaw magazine has ranked the University of Tennessee College of Law as the sixth best value law school in the nation.

The ranking, published in PreLaw’s fall 2021 issue, relates directly to bar passage and employment rates in comparison to tuition, cost of living and indebtedness. The UT College of Law rose in the ranks from 14th last year.

Interim Dean Doug Blaze praised the college’s faculty and staff for problem-solving during a pandemic. Blaze said the efforts of the Bettye B. Lewis Career Center staff in helping students find jobs virtually was remarkable.

“Their work and the students’ unique successes helped the UT College of Law attain a 97.4% graduate employment rate,” Blaze says. “That’s amazing work, and it wasn’t easy.”

According to American Bar Association data, UT College of Law 2020 graduates ranked 12 points above the national average finding jobs after graduation.

Smith & Wesson breaks ground on new facility

Smith & Wesson has broken ground on its new East Tennessee home located in Partnership Park North in Maryville.

The company joins more than 20 small arms and ammunition manufacturers located in Tennessee. The state ranks No. 1 in the nation for employment in the small arms and ammunition sector, with employment increasing by 54% over the last five years.

Smith & Wesson President/CEO Mark Smith announced that the 240-acre campus, located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, is the new home for the U.S.-based leader in firearms manufacturing and design. Smith & Wesson is locating its headquarters and other major operations on the site.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that our culture and our company will continue to thrive here,” Smith says. “Not just because our culture will be welcomed, but because it will be strengthened by being here.”

First Horizon Bank establishes endowment

The University of Tennessee’s Haslam College of Business has received a commitment from First Horizon Bank for a $500,000 endowment.

Since the endowment supports strategic priorities for the college, it will receive one-to-one matching funds through the Haslam Matching Gift Program for a total gift of $1 million.

A portion of the endowment will support the First Horizon Foundation Business Endowed Distinguished Professorship, elevating a previously established professorship currently held by Russell Crook in the college’s Department of Management and Entrepreneurship.

“It’s difficult to articulate the tremendous sense of gratification I have when thinking about First Horizon’s continued investment in the Haslam College of Business and in me,” Crook says.

“Their support signals that the work the college is doing makes a difference in the lives of our students and community.”

A large part of the gift will be dedicated to establishing the First Horizon Foundation Endowed Business Scholarship, the first of which will be awarded during the fall 2022 semester. The scholarship is geared toward first-generation students, particularly those participating in Haslam’s TakeOff program, which Crook helped launch in 2017.

First Horizon has been the Official Bank of the Vols for nearly 30 years, a commitment that goes beyond athletics and includes financial literacy workshops for faculty and students as well as summer internship opportunities. Nearly half of the bank’s Knoxville associates are UT alumni, with more being hired every year.

Maddie’s Fund contributes $3.4M

The Program for Pet Health Equity in the University of Tennessee’s College of Social Work has announced a grant award of $3.4 million from Maddie’s Fund.

The fund is a national family foundation established by Dave and Cheryl Duffield to revolutionize the status and well-being of companion animals. The program exists to improve access to veterinary care for pets and their families not adequately served by the current system. AlignCare is the nation’s first One Health health care system addressing the needs of people, their pets and their ecosystem.

“Thanks to Maddie, the PPHE will be able to continue the groundbreaking work of AlignCare,” says Michael Blackwell, program director and founder of PPHE and AlignCare. “Following the development and testing of AlignCare, these funds will now help ensure further improvements and implementation of community ownership to achieve the sustainability a health care system requires.”

AlignCare is currently implemented in Knoxville and seven other pilot communities.

IoanDepot continues expansion in area

loanDepot, a nonbank retail lender with new locations in Knoxville and Maryville, continued to build its national in-market retail presence with a number of market openings and market expansions over the last 90 days.

The continued expansion of the company’s in-market retail business is part of its ongoing commitment to provide a personalized home lending experience for its customers by establishing a local presence in every U.S. market it services.

The moves, which reflect the momentum of the brand and the success of the company’s unique channel diversification strategy, further cement loanDepot’s ability to serve customers in desirable and growing home-buying markets. loanDepot operates a retail network of more than 250 locations nationwide.

As part of this expansion, loanDepot is recruiting loan consultants for these new retail locations.

Ministry Brands becomes separate firm

Ministry Brands, headquartered in Lenoir City, will become a separate standalone company from its parent Community Brands, the leading provider of cloud-based software and payment solutions for associations, nonprofits and schools,

Community Brands has signed a definitive agreement for Reverence Capital Partners to make a majority investment in Ministry Brands. Additional details of the transaction were not disclosed.

As part of the transaction, Ministry Brands becomes a separate standalone firm, with material rollover investment from its former parent.

The two companies will operate independently providing more focused investment for each business’ respective customers, employees and stakeholders.

Ministry Brands is a leading provider of cloud-based software, payments solutions, services and information platforms for churches, ministries and those they serve.

Ministry Brands will continue to focus on its vision to improve the way churches and ministries operate, communicate, and engage by providing transformative technology solutions that enable growth and success in the digital age.

New Year’s Eve includes World’s Fair milestone

Knoxville will host its 2021 New Year’s Eve celebration underneath the Sunsphere in a special tribute to the forthcoming 40th anniversary of the 1982 World’s Fair.

New Year’s Eve at the Sunsphere, presented by Lowe’s, will be held Friday, Dec. 31, at the World’s Fair Festival Lawn, with a night of live music, DJ-mixed tunes, food trucks, fireworks, a laser show and a midnight ball-drop from the Sunsphere.

“The Sunsphere is an iconic structure beloved by locals and recognized by people all over the world,” says Kyndra Brewer, director of the City’s Office of Special Events. “It feels right to welcome 2022 on the World’s Fair Park, which has been such a great place to safely gather with friends and family, especially during the past two years.”

Knoxville leaf collection on through February

The Knoxville Public Service Department crews have begun collecting leaves, approximately 6,500 tons of them from residents’ yards, and will continue the service through February 2022.

At this time of year, leaves outpace other yard waste created by Knoxville residents. Crews will collect leaves on a monthly basis, while brush will be collected periodically throughout the winter.

Residents who want their leaves picked up should follow these tips to make leaf collection as smooth as possible:

• Leave leaves loose, not bagged.

• Rake leaves into piles or rows at the edge of your property along the street away from mailboxes, sidewalks and vehicles.

• Separate leaf piles from brush piles and any bulky waste items waiting at the curb with your garbage cart.

Public Service crews deliver the leaves to Living Earth, for mulching and composting with other organic material into various yard products that the company markets and sells. Living Earth has operations in Knoxville and Nashville as well as in Texas.

Apply now for Historic Preservation Fund

Knoxville is now accepting proposals from owners of historic residential or commercial buildings seeking funding for property-improvement projects through the Historic Preservation Fund program.

The request for proposals for Funding for Preservation of Historic Buildings is available at

Qualifying properties must be located within H-1 or NC-1 historic overlay districts within Knoxville city limits or listed (or eligible for listing) on the National Register of Historic Places.

Applicants must own the property, present a deed of trust and owe no City or County property taxes. Applicants must also attend a mandatory pre-proposal meeting held via Zoom; attendance details are included in the RFP document.

Through the Historic Preservation Fund program, established in 2014, Knoxville has contributed more than $2.7 million to projects that improve historic buildings.

Positively Living clinic now open downtown

Positively Living & Choice Health Network providers are now welcoming patients at its new, expanded location at 1925 Ailor Avenue near downtown Knoxville.

The clinic, which previously was located on Hill Avenue, continues to serve the area’s most vulnerable individuals and families affected by HIV, mental illness, substance use, homelessness and LBGTQ+ discrimination.

The clinic offers HIV prevention, testing and treatment services as well as a full-service pharmacy. For patients seeking to prevent and treat HIV, the clinic also provides primary and infectious disease care; mental health counseling and therapy; and food, housing and transportation aid.

Choice Health Network Harm Reduction services also are offered at the site. Information