Year in Review


It's been a banner year for the Blount Partnership with more than 100 events planned and executed. The year was full of pleasant happenings as more than $335 million dollars of capital investement was announced for Blount County between ProNova Solutions, Alcoa, Surface Igniter and Microtherm.

Tourism in Blount County generated $312 million last year which represents an increase of $7 million from 2011 and a 21.4 percent increase since 2009.

There were 20 ribbon cuttings and ground breakings hosted by the Chamber.

Special guests who visited Chamber members included Sen. Bob Corker, Mark Cate (Gov. Haslam's Chief of Staff), Bill Hagerty (Commissioner of the Tennessee ECD), Susan Whitaker (Commissioner of Tennessee Tourist Development), Kevin Huffman (Commissioner of the Tennessee Dept. of Education), Catherine Glover (President of Tennessee Chamber of Commerce) and Matt Erskine (U.S. EDA Deputy Assistant Secretary).

These are just some of the 2013 highlights. Here's more that outline all the Partnership has done in the past year.


4 - Regional Legislative Breakfast - nearly 200 people along with 14 local and state elected officials attended this event which gave an outlook into the legislative session
23 - Microtherm, Inc., moves into spec building to open operations in Blount County employing a workforce of least 40 by the end of 2014.
29-30 - State Tourism Meeting - the Blount Partnership traveled to Nashville and met with Commissioner Susan Whitaker and the state tourism marketing office to discuss partnering in promotion of programs
Ribbon cutting: Get Fit Maryville 1/9


1 - Tennessee Association of CVBs convention - the Partnership was brought in to discuss its establishment of the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority and its efforts were highlighted as "Best Practice" in the state
7 - Annual Meeting - the 93rd Chamber Annual meeting was sold out with 450 attendees who saw Gov. Bill Haslam's Chief of Staff Mark Cate and Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman
21 - ProNova Solutions - announced that company is the first tenant in Pellissippi Place and will bring 525 jobs with $50 million investment
Ribbon cuttings: Jazzercise of Maryville 2/8, Computer Catering 2/12


8 - Glenn Shepard seminar - attended by 80 managers from the area for a 4-hour training session where they gained continuing education credits
18 - Partnership sponsored key note speaker Joel Manby, President/CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment at the Southeast Tourism Society's Spring Symposium in Atlanta
19 - Primetime - huge networking event that drew more than 400 people to Cooper Athletic Center on the Maryville College campus. Held in conjunction with the 2012 Membership Event
Ribbon cutting: High Road Digital 3/12


2 - Blount County Tourism Ambassador Program - announced the certification program that inspires front-line hospitality employees to ensure every visitor has a positive experience
9-10 - VIP trip to Nashville to visit elected officials and commissioners. Nearly 30 traveled for the two-day event.
16 - Windham Professionals - assisted the State on release announcing Windham Professionals expansion in Alcoa of 150 jobs
18-19 - Hosted travel writer Sheila O'Connor from the San Francisco Examiner as she toured the county
23 - BTAP panel discussion with 15 representatives from different sectors that have direct contact with tourists.
Ribbon cuttings: Mary Beth West Communications 4/4, Chadwick's Churn 4/5
Groundbreaking: American Family Care 4/16


2 - Alcoa, Inc. - assisted the State on release announcing Alcoa's second major North American expansion to meet the growing demands for light, durable and recyclable aluminum sheet for automotive production. Alcoa will invest $275 million over the next three years and add 200 permanent jobs.
4-5 - Had WBIR Live at 5 at 4 going live with its show on Friday at the Townsend Spring Festival.
9 - Special meeting with Tennessee Chamber of Commerce president Catherine Glover
10 - Celebrated Blount County Tourism Day with the release of the travel app
18-19 - Assisted with information booth at the Highland Games
28-June 2 - H.O.G. Rally participation with information booth and support during downtown Maryville street party on May 30
Ribbon cuttings: Farmers Insurance 5/10, LeConte Realty 5/10, Blount Home Mortgage 5/17
Groundbreaking: Cades Cove Cellars 5/17


3-30 - Smoky Mountain Photographers showcase highlighting area photographers with exhibits at the Smoky Mountain Visitor Center in Townsend.
5 - Primetime Redux brought together people from July 2012 Primetime event to call on new members who joined in the last year.
6-8 - Renaissance of the North American Flute Festival gathering at the Heritage Center. Assisted with information booth about area happenings.
14 - Took photos and video for East Tennessee Women's Leadership Summit
21 - WBIR/FOX 43 morning show was live at antique tractor show at the visitor's center
24 - Attended ribbon cutting for the "missing link" bridge, also known as bridge No. 2, on the Foothills Parkway in the Smoky Mountains National park.
Groundbreaking: Alcoa High School 6/20


16 - WVLT TV interview about lane closure on The Dragon.
17 - Met with airport and Visit Knoxville about installing video messaging system at baggage claim.
19 - Staff participated in United Way Gas Day
23 - FAM tour of Chilhowee Inn and Lee Roberson Gallery


8 - Pigs and Politics with more than 60 elected officials on hand joining 400 attendees. Interview with WBIR-TV
8 - WBIR-TV interview with artists at Visitors Center during the Art Showcase month
13 - ProNova Solutions groundbreaking at Pellissippi Place
14 - FAM tour of Blackberry Farm, Dancing Bear Lodge
20 - Sen. Bob Corker visits with Chamber members at the Clayton Center's Lambert Recital Hall. Attended by nearly 100.
21 - Surface Igniter announcement of 100 jobs
28 - BTAP training at Blount County Library for inaugural class of 30 that included Sen. Doug Overbey, Maryville City Manager Greg McClain, Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell and a visit from Tennessee Dept. of Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker.
29 - Assisted with Alcoa groundbreaking at North plant for the new sheet metal facility. On hand were Sen. Lamar Alexander, Rep. Jimmy Duncan and Gov. Bill Haslam.
Groundbreaking: ProNova Solutions 8/13; Alcoa 8/29


4 - Road Trippin' with WLOS-TV in Asheville, N.C., taped its program to air the week of Sept. 23. Visited GSMHC, River Rat, Tuckaleechee Caverns, Dancing Bear, Blount County Museum, Cades Cove Preservation Association
4 - Visit from U.S. Economic Development Administration Deputy Assistant Matt Erskine to announce that the Blount County Industrial Board is awarded a $1.4 million grant for the road extension in Pellissippi Place to aid ProNova Solutions.
5 - Set up interview with Roberto Lemar of Il Saphore Italian Restaurant for Taste of Blount Feature in Daily Times.
7 - Article in The Daily Times entitled "The Summer of 2013 will be remembered as Blount jobfest" highlighted the resurgence in local manufacturing.
12 - The 12th annual Taste of Blount took place with 20 food vendors at Theater in the Park. Event was attended by nearly 400 and winners were announced for Best appetizer, beverage, sandwich, main course, dessert, presentation and overall.
19 - Wrote article announcing Blount County is No. 8 in Tennessee in tourism dollars spent. Published in Daily Times and sent to county commissioners.
23-28 - WLOS-TV Road Trippin' features five Blount County venues. (See Sept. 4)
27-28 - Townsend Fall Heritage Festival.
Ribbon Cutting: Mane Support 9/11, Blount County Clerk's office 9/13


1 - WVLT interview about the beginning of government shutdown's impact on the county
4 - The Blount Partnership is working very hard to support and encourage positive tourism activity for the Townsend/Walland area during the current government shutdown. We want to keep you up-to-date on our activities. We've instituted an "Open for Business" campaign utilizing some of the best resources we have available. Thus far, we've launched this campaign through social media, press releases, illustrations and web site.
Please help us spread the message we're "Open for Business" by following the message throughout blog (, Facebook (Peaceful Side of the Smokies), Twitter (@peacefulsmokies) and hashtag #OpenForBusiness.
Here's just a quick snapshot of what we did:
* Reached out to all accommodations, restaurants and attractions in the Townsend/Walland area asking for their comments to use in communications.
* Developed a series of illustrations that demonstrate we're "open for business."
* A 14-day plan for daily press releases is in the works beginning with a message on camping, hiking, attractions, lodging, upcoming events and the Partnership's approach to promoting tourism. The first one was released today regarding the availability of camping in the area.
* Launched the blog to use as a central area of communication for up-to-date information.
* Sent daily updates to our stakeholders to engage their input, get their comments/concerns addressed from a local level and they are responding.
* Messaged to group travel planners who may have had tours booked to Cades Cove letting them know than can call us for alternative itineraries.
* Messaged to the 38 brides who were planning to be married in the park that we have alternative locations for them in the Townsend/Walland area.
* Messaged to our industry partners at the regional and national level of our message "we open for business." Southeast Tourism Society - National Tour Association, group travel associations
10-12 - Culinary FAM tour with 10 national writers for four days touring the airport, Heritage Center, Chocolate Bar, Dancing Bear Lodge & Restaurant, Firefly Café, Wood-N-Strings, Full Service BBQ, Pop Korns Gourmet Popcorn, KupKake Katie's, The Market, Pastry & Cake Studio, Smoky Mountain Brewery, RJ's Courtyard, Bush's Beans, Hatfield & McCoy's Dinner Theater, Vienna Coffee House, Ruby Tuesday Cooking Class, Wines of the South People's Choice Awards.
18 - Sponsored Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center home tour
22 - Hosted State of Education briefing for Blount County with Dr. Brian Bell, Stephanie Thompson and Rob Britt as they discussed each school system in the county. More than 40 people attended this event held at the Chamber.
23 - Hosted second BTAP class at the Blount County Library with 30 attendees.
24 - Hosted Randy Boyd and the Drive to 55 seminar as part of Gov. Haslam's workforce development. Nearly 40 people attended.
Ribbon Cutting: Vienna Coffee House 10/4, American Family Care 10/9, LeConte Realty Townsend


4-6 - Attended Southeast Tourism Symposium in Jacksonville, Fla.
7 - Business Excellence Awards held in Clayton Center for the Arts Nutt Theater with more than 350 attendees. Hallerin Hilton Hill emceed with Durwood Fincher providing the evening's entertainment.
15 - Begun installation of network messaging system at McGhee Tyson Airport. This project is in conjunction with Visit Knoxville as we target tourists and business people entering the area at the airport. This is the same system currently running in both the Maryville and Townsend visitor's center.
20 - Laura Caves of High Road Digital was named chamber ambassador of the year. The group made more than 6800 calls to the membership during the year.


6 - Christmas open house hosted at the Visitor's Center in Townsend.
11 - Christmas open house hosted at the Chamber office in Maryville.


Facebook    Twitter    LinkedIn    Pinterest