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Haslam Announces Expansion of WS Packaging in Knoxville

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; February 6, 2014:

NASHVILLE—Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with WS Packaging Group, Inc. officials today announced the company will expand its current operations in Knoxville by opening a new location in the PBR Building, located at 10215 Caneel Dr. In order to increase its operations to accommodate more industry market share, WS Packaging Group will also consolidate its Knoxville facilities to this more central location. The company will invest $43 million and create 231 new jobs.

“I want to thank WS Packaging Group for reinvesting in Tennessee, and I appreciate the new jobs being created in Knox County,” Haslam said. “One of the priorities in our Jobs4TN strategy is companies already doing business in Tennessee, and whenever a company already operating here decides to stay and expand, it further supports our goal of becoming the No. 1 location the southeast for high quality jobs.”

“I’m pleased WS Packaging Group can continue to benefit from Tennessee’s ideal business climate. As a state with the lowest per capita debt in the nation and our superior logistical advantages, we pride ourselves on investing in incumbent businesses,” Hagerty said. “I appreciate the new jobs WS Packaging Group is creating in our state and look forward to their continued presence in Tennessee.”

WS Packaging Group, Inc. is one of the largest label converting operations in North America with more than 45 years of experience in label printing and packaging. It operates 21 manufacturing facilities and produces high-quality packaging products. Its customers range in size from small businesses to large, high-volume manufacturers and consumer product goods companies doing business locally, nationally and in marketplaces worldwide. The company has more than 1,800 employees.

Through this consolidation of facilities and expansion, WS Packaging Group will move all of their Knoxville facilities to the new location in the PBR Building to create synergy between the different operations, and plans to complete the move to their new facility by mid-July.

“WS Packaging Group has a long-standing history as a leading provider of complex label solutions for branded consumer and business-to-business products for companies throughout North America,” WS Packaging chief executive officer Rex Lane said. “This expansion in Knoxville will allow us to meet the changing and growing needs of our customer base. It also will enable us to leverage a strong business environment, with support from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, to create additional employment opportunities.”

“I’m proud that WS Packaging chose to expand their operations into Knox County’s Westbridge Business Park,” Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said. “These 231 new manufacturing jobs to our community are very welcome news.”

“WS Packaging’s $43 million expansion represents one of the largest manufacturing capital investments by an existing industry in Knox County in the past decade,” Knoxville Chamber President & CEO Mike Edwards said. “This is precisely why we have a sharp focus on business retention and expansion programs in our Innovation Valley economic development strategies.”

“TVA congratulates WS Packaging Group in Knoxville on their major expansion announcement that will add quality jobs for area residents,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “TVA and Lenoir City Utilities Board value the partnership with the state of Tennessee, Knoxville Chamber, and city and county leaders, which assists existing businesses to invest and grow locally.”

The company plans to begin initial hiring in March and April. People interested in applying for one of these new jobs can visit www.jobs4tn.gov or inquire at the Tennessee Career Center at Knoxville. Interested parties can also visit www.wspackaging.com for more information.

Tennessee was recently selected the No. 1 state in the nation for economic development by Business Facilities Magazine. Hagerty added, “The governor and I are pleased to see the results of the new strategy we put in place when the governor took office in 2011. Being named No. 1 in the U.S. underscores the fact that the governor’s strategy is working.”

Health Dept. Investigation Ties E.coli Ilnesses to Knoxville-Area Raw Milk Dairy

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Health; November 20, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Health confirmed today the strain of E.coli that caused nine children to become ill after drinking raw milk obtained from McBee Dairy Farm near Knoxville has been matched to animal waste collected at the dairy. Five of the nine children required hospitalization and three developed a severe kidney problem known as hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The TDH investigation involved an on-site inspection of the farm, interviews of 88 households that purchased milk from the farm and laboratory analysis of samples and materials to compare bacterial strains. Officials from the Knox County Health Department have been involved in the investigation and patient outreach efforts.

“This outbreak points out, again, the serious risks associated with drinking unpasteurized or ‘raw’ milk,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “While people with stronger immune systems may be able to overcome the bacteria found in raw milk, children, older people, pregnant women and those with health conditions can be seriously harmed by bacteria in non-pasteurized milk products and should not consume them.”

“Milk from the healthiest-appearing cows in the cleanest dairy operations can still contain deadly microorganisms,” said TDH State Epidemiologist Tim Jones, MD. “Pasteurization, which simply involves heating the milk, kills these microorganisms and leaves the healthy nutrients. Those who consume raw milk are playing Russian roulette with their health; the glass they drink today may not have deadly microorganisms, but the one they drink tomorrow may cause serious health problems or even death.”

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit http://health.state.tn.us/.

THP Taking Applications for Fall Citizens’ Trooper Academy

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security; July 9, 2013:

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Highway Patrol is now accepting applications for the fall session of its Citizens’ Trooper Academy. The 10-week academies will be held in both Nashville and Knoxville. The upcoming session will mark the first academy held in Knoxville.

The first session for the Nashville class is scheduled to begin Tuesday, September 3, 2013. The Knoxville class is scheduled to begin on Thursday, September 5, 2013. Both sessions will run from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. weekly.

The Citizens’ Trooper Academy, which consists of approximately 24-30 hours of training, is designed to develop a better understanding and awareness of the Tennessee Highway Patrol as well as its parent agency, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, in the community through a hands-on approach. Topics covered include investigations, special operations, homeland security and many other areas of the patrol.

Participants must be at least 21 years old, sign required waivers and agreements and have no criminal history. Also, citizens must be available to attend weekly three-hour sessions with no more than one absence.

Applications are available on the departmental website (www.tn.gov/safety), the THP Facebook page (www.facebook.com/tennesseehighwaypatrol), or citizens may request applications by sending an email message to email.safety@tn.gov. Applicants are asked to indicate whether they wish to attend the Nashville or Knoxville sessions.

Deadline for registration is August 2, 2013. Applications must be returned by that date for processing.

TN Supreme Court Affirms Disciplinary Costs Owed by Attorney

Press release from the Tennessee Courts System; May 24, 2013:

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled today that Knoxville attorney Herbert S. Moncier must pay the costs incurred prosecuting the disciplinary proceeding that resulted in his one-year suspension from the practice of law in Tennessee.

On June 1, 2011, the Supreme Court assessed costs totaling $22,038.32 against Mr. Moncier. Afterward, Mr. Moncier petitioned for relief from costs, arguing that the disciplinary proceedings resulting in his suspension were unfair and unconstitutional.

A three-member panel of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (BPR) refused to grant him relief from costs. Mr. Moncier appealed to the Supreme Court, again arguing that he should not be required to pay costs because the disciplinary proceedings that resulted in his suspension were unfair and unconstitutional. Mr. Moncier also argued that the members of the BPR panel assigned to hear his petition for relief from costs were biased against him.

The Supreme Court addressed and rejected Mr. Moncier’s arguments and affirmed the BPR panel’s decision denying him relief from costs. Among other things, the Court concluded that Tennessee’s attorney-disciplinary procedure is consistent with the due process requirements of the Tennessee and United States constitutions and that disqualification standards applicable to judges do not apply to members of the Board of Professional Responsibility.

To read Herbert S. Moncier v. Board of Professional Responsibility Opinion, authored by Justice Cornelia A. Clark, visit the Opinions section.

TNGOP Targets Gloria Johnson

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Party; April 25, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—As lawmakers return home following the conclusion of the legislative session, Tennesseans are reviewing the public record of their lawmakers and some of what they are finding is embarrassing.

Take, for instance, the record of Representative Gloria Johnson (D—Knoxville).

In a short four-month period as a legislator, Rep. Johnson:

  • Spent the last four months harassing and opposing Governor Bill Haslam’s common sense reform agenda for education and spending.
  • Voted against a bill that protects doctors who provide free medical care to low-income patients who need urgent attention.
  • Filed a self-serving bill she would personally benefit from.
  • Supported the implementation of ObamaCare in Tennessee.
  • Voted to strip worker’s rights protections from Tennessee law.
  • Stood against Knox County teachers having the ability to protect students.
  • Chose to not record a vote on a ban of the state income tax that would protect Tennessee families from having more of their hard-earned money taken by government.
  • Voted against a balanced state budget that meets the needs of our state and cuts taxes for all Tennesseans.
  • Voted against cutting the sales tax on groceries for all Tennesseans.
  • Voted against phasing out the death tax to save Tennessee families and farms from being double-taxed on their assets.
  • Voted against an initiative to find and remove examples of government waste.  

Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney made the following statement about Rep. Johnson’s legislative performance.

“Representative Johnson was sent to Nashville to represent her constituents and this dismal performance was anything but that. It is troubling to see that her priorities were not carrying and passing good legislation, but rather being focused on updating her social media accounts with personal attacks on our leaders. Tennesseans hold their elected officials to a higher standard and expect them to work tirelessly on their behalf. Instead, she put petty personal politics above what’s best for Tennessee.”

He concluded, “I look forward to talking about Gloria Johnson’s embarrassing track record with her constituents over the next year and a half.”

Haslam Names March 1 Arbor Day in TN

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; February 15, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Gov. Bill Haslam has proclaimed March 1 as Arbor Day in Tennessee to recognize the importance of trees to our state. This year’s state celebration will be held in Knoxville, which has been designated a Tree City USA community for 22 years.

“Arbor Day is important for reminding us how every community, regardless of size, benefits environmentally and economically from trees,” Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson said. “We’re committed to improving and protecting our forest resources, both in rural and urban areas and are proud to join the city of Knoxville and their tree board to recognize Arbor Day.”

The Arbor Day celebration, hosted by the City of Knoxville Tree Board and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, will take place March 1 at 10 a.m. EST at Ijams Nature Center. Knoxville earned the honor of hosting this year’s state Arbor Day celebration by being recognized as the state’s Tree Board of the Year in 2012. Proclamations will be presented by state and local officials, an Arbor Day skit will be performed by local elementary school students and refreshments will be served after the program.

Citizens can also show their support for Arbor Day by visiting local retail nurseries and garden centers for Tennessee grown trees. Selecting locally grown trees not only add value to your home but help ensure success with a quality product that is already acclimated to Tennessee’s growing conditions. A list of nurseries and garden centers with locally grown trees is available at www.picktnproducts.org.

Arbor Day is a national observance, which is recognized at different times based on a region’s ideal conditions and climate for tree planting and care. Arbor Day in Tennessee is always recognized the first Friday in March.

TDA’s Division of Forestry works to protect and enhance forests that cover 14 million acres and provide more than 60,000 jobs. Forests also help promote clean water, wildlife habitat and recreation. Last year, TDA awarded more than $97,000 in Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program grants for 14 urban tree projects statewide.

More information on the Division of Forestry and Arbor Day can be found at www.TN.gov/agriculture/forestry or www.arborday.org.

TN Urban Chambers Support Economic-Impact Studies of Proposed State Legislation

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; January 31, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 31, 2013) – Today, the regional chambers of commerce in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville announced their support for a measure that would require the Tennessee General Assembly to consider, as part of the analysis of proposed legislation, the financial impact of each bill on businesses and jobs within Tennessee.

“Tennessee already has a mechanism in place to measure the fiscal impact of proposed legislation on government,” said Ron Harr, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, referring to the production of fiscal notes produced by the legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee. “This bill takes the Fiscal Review Committee’s analysis one step further.”

SB 116/HB 220, sponsored by Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro and Rep. Mark White of Memphis, directs the Fiscal Review Committee to include an “impact-to-commerce statement” in its fiscal note for bills and resolutions referred to certain committees.

“This bill is about making better-informed decisions by ensuring that our elected officials understand the effect new laws will have on our state’s employment and economic well-being,” said Mike Edwards, president and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber.

If this legislation becomes law, certain fiscal notes would include a statement about the net immediate and long-term effect each bill would have on commerce and jobs in the state. The impact to commerce statement would include, if possible, an estimate in dollars of the anticipated change in costs or savings to commerce.

“Our elected officials want to play a key role in creating jobs and economic prosperity,” said John Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber. “An analysis of a bill’s impact on business will give our legislators another tool to help accomplish that goal.”

The new analysis would only apply to bills that have a direct impact on commerce and would be limited to the following committees: House business and utilities committee; House finance, ways and means committee; House state government committee; House local government committee; House insurance and banking committee; House consumer and human resources committee; Senate commerce, labor and agriculture committee; Senate finance, ways and means committee; and Senate state and local government committee. If a piece of legislation impacted multiple industries in different ways, the analysis would focus on the overall net impact to commerce in the state.

“A recent survey of our members found that 88 percent of respondents believe that new legislation should be evaluated for its financial impact on business,” said Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. “Every year the Tennessee General Assembly considers proposals that have a bottom-line impact on our businesses. We believe every Tennessee business will benefit from a more-informed legislative process.”

In the area of K-12 public education, the four urban chambers’ 2013 joint legislative agenda also includes proposals to ensure student test results are in the hands of principals, teachers and administrators more quickly, and that each high school’s ACT scores are more easily accessible to the public. The four urban chambers’ full 2013 legislative agenda is attached.

About the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce:
Founded in 1887, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce is the region’s leading business association with more than 1,600 member companies employing more than 10,000 people. The Chattanooga Chamber is the spearhead of the business community, acting as the catalyst, convener, representative and resource for ensuring that the Chattanooga area achieves its outstanding business potential. We provide the focal point for the business community to fulfill its leadership role in making the Chattanooga area vibrant, prosperous and forward-looking. The Chattanooga Chamber has earned 4-Star Accreditation by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a distinction that places us among the top 10 percent of Chambers nationwide. For more information, visit www.chattanoogachamber.com.

About the Knoxville Chamber:
The Knoxville Chamber is the region’s leading business organization with more than 2,000 members that employ more than 276,000 individuals. More than 80 percent of Chamber members are small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. It fulfills its mission of Driving Regional Economic Prosperity by recruiting new businesses and supporting existing companies, and serves as the lead economic development agency in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley. The organization has an active government advocacy program and supports pro-business policies. Members receive marketing, networking, professional development benefits, and many other cost-effective services. For more information, visit www.knoxvillechamber.com.

About the Greater Memphis Chamber:
The Greater Memphis Chamber is the lead economic development agency for Memphis/Shelby County, and is a private, non-profit, membership-driven organization comprised of 2,300 business enterprises, civic organizations, educational institutions and individuals. For more information, visit www.memphischamber.com.

About the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce:
The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is Middle Tennessee’s largest business federation, representing more than 2,000 member companies. Belong, engage, lead, prosper embodies the Chamber’s focus on facilitating community leadership to create economic prosperity for Middle Tennessee. The work of the Nashville Area Chamber is supported by membership and sponsors; the Chamber’s Pivotal Partners (a partnership at the highest level for all Chamber programs and events) are BlueCross/BlueShield of Middle Tennessee, Community Health Systems and Delek US Holdings. Together with its affiliates, the Nashville Chamber works to strengthen the region’s business climate and to enhance Nashville’s position as a desirable place to live, work and visit. For more information, visit www.nashvillechamber.com.

‘Remember the Titans’ Coach to Keynote 2013 Black Issues Conference

Press release from the University of Tennessee; January 11, 2013: 

Remember the Titans coach Herman Boone will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Black Issues Conference on February 2.

“We Are America: Divided We Fall. Together We Stand” is the theme of the conference, which will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Carolyn P. Brown University Center. The event is free and open to students, faculty, staff, and members of the community.

Black Issues Conference is held to raise awareness of issues affecting the African-American community, explain how they impact others and brainstorm with students to come up with solutions.

The event will consist of three workshop sessions and a luncheon where Boone will deliver the keynote address. The day will conclude with a 3:00 p.m. reception where Boone will be available for pictures and autographs.

To attend, register online by January 25.

In 1971, Boone was appointed as the head football coach at TC Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. His challenge was to unite black and white players in a recently integrated school and mold them into the Titans football team.

Boone and his white assistant coach, Bill Yoast, clashed at first, but were able to put aside their prejudices to whip their team into shape. They compiled a 13-0 record and went on to win the state championship.

Now retired, Boone travels the country talking about respect, teamwork, community involvement and the importance of character. Boone will address the topics of diversity and his own experience of becoming a Titan at this year’s event.

Shawnboda Mead, associate director of Multicultural Student Life, said the planning committee chose the conference slogan, “We Are America: Divided We Fall. Together We Stand,” to make the event more inclusive and welcoming of all members of the campus community.

For more information on the Black Issues Conference, contact the Office of Multicultural Student Life at 865-974-6861.

The Black Issues Conference is made possible through the efforts of the Black Issues Conference Planning Committee, UT Chapter of the NCAAP, Charlie Lemmons Endowment, Black Cultural Programming Committee, Office of Multicultural Student Life, Division of Student Life, UT Bookstore, Office of Equity and Diversity, Commission for Blacks, Student Government Association, and the UT Black Alumni Council.

9 High Tech Startups Result from UT Tech, More Than Double Previous Year

Press release from the University of Tennessee; August 15, 2012: 

KNOXVILLE – Responding to the challenge from national and state leaders to increase and encourage more innovation, the University of Tennessee helped establish nine startup companies based on technology developed by UT faculty over the last fiscal year, more than doubling the total from a year ago.

The companies licensed technology from the University through the UT Research Foundation (UTRF), the not-for-profit organization responsible for commercializing and licensing technology discovered by faculty across the University of Tennessee System. Nine high-tech companies were created in the fiscal year ending June 30 while four were started in FY11.

From 1999 to 2011, UTRF spun out a total of 32 companies based on UT intellectual property, averaging two to four companies a year for the past five years. Of those companies, 15 are still in business and four companies were acquired. These 19 companies illustrate a favorable comparison to statistics from the Kauffman Foundation showing fewer than 50 percent of startups survive five years.

The increase is the result of more aggressive and ambitious goals set for UTRF.

“Part of the mission of the University of Tennessee is to help drive the economic development of our state. By bringing more technology to the marketplace, the University is answering the charge from Gov. Bill Haslam and President Obama to reward innovation and entrepreneurship while helping create new high-quality jobs in high-tech fields,” UT System President Joe DiPietro said.

“Six of the nine new companies are related to innovations in healthcare, and their products will further help our state by improving surgical procedures, prevention, rehabilitation and overall quality of life of our citizens,” said David Millhorn, UT executive vice president and vice president for research and economic development.

UTRF works with faculty in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin; the Health Science Center based in Memphis and the statewide Institute of Agriculture. UTRF helps faculty and the University protect inventions and navigate the process of transferring ideas to industry through licensing agreements. In the right situation and often after many years of research and development, UTRF may encourage a researcher to start a new company to commercialize the technology.

In addition to nine new startup licenses being executed, UTRF received 141 new invention disclosures in 2012, which is a record high, up from 87 in 2011. An invention disclosure is a confidential document that a university inventor submits to UTRF that provides a comprehensive description of an invention.

“Technology commercialization is very challenging, and it’s hard to predict what is going to stick, but the more things we can review and try, the better our results will be overall,” Millhorn said. “An increased number of inventions will result in an increased number of opportunities to commercialize.”

Among the companies spun out over the past 15 years, the most successful include Memphis-based GTx, a pharmaceutical company focused on developing small molecules that modulate the effects of estrogens and androgens. GTx, co-founded in 1997 by UTHSC professor of urology Mitch Steiner, employs more than 100 people in high-paying jobs and has raised more than $300 million in venture capital to fund its operations.

Knoxville-based NuSirt Sciences Inc., founded in 2007 by UT Knoxville Professor Emeritus of Nutrition Michael Zemel, sells products to reduce metabolic health risks. The company recently released a weight-loss supplement that is activated through physical exercise. NuSirt received early mentorship from Tech 2020, a Knoxville-based company that helps accelerate the development of high-growth companies. NuSirt currently has eight people on its payroll, but that number is expected to increase as new products are released.

The nine new business startups facilitated by UTRF in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012 are:

  • Entac Inc. – a Memphis firm developing a medical device to monitor and predict post-operative ileus after abdominal surgery.
  • Genera Energy Inc. – a Vonore firm specializing in integrated biomass supply chain solutions. Genera Energy Inc. was spun out of Genera Energy LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UTRF.
  • HandMinder Inc. – a Memphis startup developing a portable medical rehabilitation device to recover finger/hand function in stroke patients.
  • Infusense Inc. – a Memphis firm developing an automated platform for administration of the surgical anesthetic propofol.
  • Nanophthalmics Inc. – a Memphis firm focused on developing surgical tools that incorporate micro-fabricated materials to improve performance.
  • Raphael Biotech Inc. – a Memphis company developing new drugs in oncology.
  • SimCenter Enterprises Inc. – a Chattanooga-based company focused on computational modeling and engineering.
  • Skimtek Inc. – a Knoxville company creating sediment basin dewatering systems.
  • Solex – a Knoxville company looking to utilize peptide imaging agents to assist physicians in detecting amyloidosis.

For more information about UTRF, visit http://utrf.tennessee.edu.

Knoxville Attorney’s Reinstatement Reversed by State Supreme Court

Press release from the Tennessee Courts System; July 3, 2012:

Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Supreme Court has reversed a lower court’s decision and reinstated a Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (TBPR) hearing panel’s ruling suspending a Knoxville attorney due to misconduct.

While working at the Knoxville law firm of Kennerly, Montgomery & Finley, William S. Lockett, Jr. received payments for legal services and failed to remit those payments to the firm as required by his employment agreement. Lockett pleaded guilty to theft and to willful failure to file income tax returns. After considering all aggravating and mitigating factors, a TBPR hearing panel found that Lockett should be suspended for four years and, if reinstated, should be supervised for one year.

Lockett appealed to the Chancery Court of Knox County. Following oral argument, the chancery court applied additional mitigating factors and reduced the suspension to two years.

In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the chancery court’s decision, holding that the chancery court failed to base its discipline modification on any of the criteria set forth in Supreme Court Rule 9, section 1.3. The Court conducted its own review of the hearing panel’s decision and agreed that the four-year suspension was consistent with sanctions imposed on other attorneys for similar criminal conduct.

To read the William S. Lockett, Jr. v. Board of Professional Responsibility opinion authored by Justice Janice M. Holder, visit http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/lockettwsopn.pdf.