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VOL. 45 | NO. 40 | Friday, October 1, 2021

Pilot sells 40 convenience stores in $220M deal

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Casey’s General Stores, Inc. has agreed to acquire 40 Pilot convenience stores from Pilot Corporation in an all-cash transaction for $220 million.

The 40 Pilot stores will extend Casey’s presence in Tennessee and Kentucky, with locations primarily in the Knoxville market.

Casey’s will fund the transaction with a combination of cash on hand and bank financing. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, including Hart-Scott-Rodino clearance.

Pilot’s convenience stores are owned and operated independently from its travel center and energy businesses.

Kelvion will expand, add 74 jobs in Knoxville

Global heat exchanger manufacturer Kelvion will expand its operations in Knoxville.

The company will create 74 new jobs, for which it is hiring, and invest $3.8 million in Knox County. Kelvion will expand at the Forks of the River Valley Industrial Park in Knoxville, where the company established operations three years ago.

This expansion will increase the company’s production of innovative heat exchangers, which can be offered as configurable or customized, for the refrigeration and data center Industries.

The goals of Kelvion’s expansion in the U.S. and globally are to improve its customers’ experience, harmonize product technology, expand production capabilities and reduce costs.

Over the last five years, TNECD has supported 15 economic development projects in Knox County, accounting for nearly 2,000 job commitments and $195 million in capital investment.

Publications moves UT up in its annual rankings

The 2022 U.S. News and World Report undergraduate rankings list the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as 46th among the nation’s best public universities and 103rd nationally.

UT had the largest rise in rankings among comparable peers up from 52nd and 112th, respectively, in 2021.

The university’s supply chain program, in the Haslam College of Business, took the No. 1 spot in the Southeastern Conference, and climbed two spots to achieve a No. 3 national ranking.

UT improved in key rankings metrics such as graduation and retention, faculty resources and student excellence.

Chancellor Donde Plowman says the university is well-positioned to continue such a positive trajectory.

“I am proud that UT continues to be ranked as the premier public university in the state and among the best in the nation. Our position is a testament to the hard work of our faculty and staff, the dedication of our amazing students, and the support of our passionate alumni,” she says.

UT earned high rankings in specialty categories across business, engineering and nursing, as well:

Haslam College of Business ranked 30th among public institutions. In addition to the aforementioned top three supply chain ranking, the college is 11th in business analytics and 28th in accounting among publics.

College of Nursing ranked 42nd among public institutions in the report’s first-ever ranking of Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs.

Tickle College of Engineering ranked 35th among public institutions. UT rose three spots to 45th among public institutions as a best college for veterans.

UT also rose in faculty resources, which account for 20% of an institution’s score, as the percentage of classes with 20 or fewer students is now 38%, up from 31% last year.

Covenant Health hospitals honored

Six Covenant Health hospitals recently received 2021 awards from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.

Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, Parkwest Medical Center, both in Knoxville, LeConte Medical Center in Sevierville, Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge, Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System in Morristown, and Roane Medical Center in Harriman were recognized.

Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center has achieved:

Mission: Lifeline Gold Plus Receiving Award, Mission: Lifeline NSTEMI Gold Quality Achievement Award, Get With The Guidelines Gold Plus Achievement Award with Target: Stroke Elite Plus Honor Roll; Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll; Target: Stroke Advanced Therapy Honor Roll.

Parkwest Medical Center has achieved: Mission: Lifeline Gold Plus Receiving Award, Mission: Lifeline NSTEMI Gold Achievement Award, Get with the Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award with Target Stroke Elite Plus Honor Roll; Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll

LeConte Medical Center has achieved: Get With The Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll

Methodist Medical Center has achieved: Mission: Lifeline NSTEMI Gold Quality Achievement Award, Mission: Lifeline Gold Plus Receiving Quality Achievement Award, Get with the Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award with Target: Stroke Elite Plus Honor Roll; Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll

Morristown-Hamblen Medical Center has achieved: Mission: Lifeline Bronze Referral Receiving Award

Roane Medical Center has achieved: Get with the Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award.

Developer promises hotel with stadium deal

Local developer Nick Patel says he will build a 127-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Knoxville’s Old City if the proposed baseball stadium and multiuse facility is approved.

“I’m excited about the growth of downtown Knoxville,” Patel says. “The stadium is a much-needed element to help refresh and revitalize the Old City. It brings a great new energy, and I want to contribute to the momentum.”

Patel adds the five-story, $22 million hotel will be designed to have an upscale, historic feel similar to other buildings in the Old City; it also will complement the design of the proposed stadium. He already acquired the land needed for the project: a half-acre lot next to Barley’s restaurant and bar on Jackson Avenue, and a one-acre lot across the street for parking.

Patel, a University of Tennessee graduate, is president of TCH Knoxville, LLC, which owns seven other hotels in Knox and Sevier counties. Patel’s company, Old City Ventures, will develop the new SpringHill Suites by Marriott.

Patel said the stadium would be a huge addition to the city and help contribute to Knoxville’s family-friendly downtown environment.

First all-electric buses arrive for KAT fleet

The first all-electric buses have been introduced to the Knoxville Area Transit fleet.

This order of the first 12 vehicles represents a step toward Knoxville’s clean and resilient future – and progress toward the city’s goal of reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2050.

Five of the 12 have arrived to-date, the rest are due before the end of the year. An additional six vehicles are expected to arrive next year, bringing the total to 18.

When the last electric bus arrives, this all-electric group will represent 26% of the total fleet, along with another 41% being hybrid-electrics.

A key partner in the electric bus program is Knoxville Utilities Board. KUB worked with KAT at the outset to ensure that KAT would have enough power to charge as many as 25 all-electric buses in coming years. The charging stations for the first 12 buses are being installed.

KAT will begin testing the buses on various routes, training operators in the optimal operating techniques, and preparing the vehicles to begin operating in regular service, currently scheduled for January.

Washington Pike traffic issue under discussion

Public input is being sought from Knoxvillians on the

estimated $17 million project to improve traffic flow and safety along the Washington Pike corridor inside Knoxville’s northeastern limits, between Interstate 640 and Murphy Road.

The proposed design also provides wide bicycle and pedestrian paths.

The problems are overworked intersections and a lack of turn lanes. And too many accidents – one every four days at Washington Pike and Lifespring Lane.

The proposed design fluctuates the width of the road and number of lanes based on a blend of traffic counts, crash data and engineering best practices.

The most accident-prone intersection, at what’s now Washington Pike and Lifespring Lane, would be reconstructed to improve safety.

KPD changes work schedule for officers

The Knoxville Police Department has announced a new work schedule for patrol officers.

The new schedule, which went into effect Sept. 12, was created in an effort to account for staffing shortages and maximize the number of available officers during any given shift.

Patrol officers will work 12-hour shifts, rotating between day shift and night shift every 28 days. Additionally, instead of working four days consecutively each week, patrol officers will work four days total one week and three days total the next week.

The Community Engagement Response Team will also continue to operate as it did previous to the schedule change, working during the hours of peak call volume to supplement the efforts of patrol officers by proactively addressing violent crime in hot spot areas throughout the city.

The new schedule offers several advantages, including the following:

• The 12-hour rotating shift puts more officers on the street while requiring fewer total number of patrol officers. The new staffing will also add additional personnel to each squad, including additional supervisors.

• More days off each week and month. During the 4-3 fixed shift, officers worked approximately 19 days per month. Officers will work approximately 14 days per month.

• No officer scheduled to work more than three days consecutively. Additionally, every other week officers will have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off.

• Allows every patrol officer to be on day shift and night shift equally.

TVA offers green bonds

The Tennessee Valley Authority announced and priced a $500 million offering of 10-year maturity green bonds, its first offering of a sustainability-focused financial instrument.

Based on TVA’s recently released Sustainable Financing Framework, the bonds will fund ongoing capital investments that build on TVA’s industry-leading enviroment, social and governance successes and support meeting the goals of TVA’s Strategic Intent and Guiding Principles endorsed by the board of directors in May 2021.

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