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225 Years of Commerce and Industry (Part 5)

Jessica Karsten
Friday, October 7, 2016

225 Years of Commerce and Industry (Part 5)
A History of Knoxville’s Diverse Business Community

2000s – 2016: Advanced Manufacturing, Digital Media, and Entrepreneurial Spirit

The City of Knoxville has experienced steady economic growth in the last few years and consistently enjoys one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. Large employers like the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory helped the local economy remain fairly insulated through the Great Recession in the early 2000s.

With Knoxville’s long history as a manufacturing center, it comes as no surprise that one of the city’s primary industries today is advanced manufacturing, marked by significant technological advances and scientific breakthroughs. Given its assets and resources, Innovation Valley, the regional economic development partnership managed by the Knoxville Chamber, has selected advanced technology and manufacturing as a target recruitment cluster for the region.
While existing manufacturers like Alcoa and DeRoyal have expanded and amplified their operations, new area manufacturers like Local Motors, ProNova, and Fresenius Medical Care have established their operations in the region to utilize the technological assets it has to offer. These companies are working toward developments in areas like vehicle innovation and medical technology with Innovation Valley’s resources serving as the driving force for this progress.
Another significant manufacturer in Knoxville is Radio Systems Corporation, which serves as the leading manufacturer of pet products, with a number of successful brands and products like electronic training and containment systems, waste management products, and pet doors.
Knoxville has also become an ideal location to create and design digital products and is ranked the third largest video production market in the nation. The city currently houses a dynamic community of digital media companies with focus areas like television production and creative digital marketing tools. Prominent television production companies based in Knoxville include Scripps Networks Interactive, RIVR Media, and Jewelry Television.
Photo: Ken Lowe, chairman, president, and CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive
Since its founding, Knoxville has served as an ideal place for entrepreneurs to start their businesses because of the wide range of opportunities the city has to offer. The city has continued to foster this same business environment by supplying entrepreneurs with resources through Chamber initiatives and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. One example is the Young Entrepreneurs Academy in which local middle and high school students have the opportunity to develop their own real businesses from the ground up.
This dedication to local entrepreneurs has allowed for the development of a number of successful companies in the community, advancing the city’s economy and making it an ideal destination for businesses for the next 225 years.

Photo: 2015-16 Young Entrepreneurs Academy


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