Blount Partnership News & Events

Join us Friday, Nov. 4 at 11 a.m. for the Camelot Care Center (607 Morganton Square, Maryville) - ribbon cutting & grand opening. Light refreshments will be provided.
Be sure to join Raeus Jae Cannon for a free networking training class as she shows you how to quit making cold calls and drive more business to you. It is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 1 from 3-4:30 p.m. at the Blount Partnership. RSVP to Amy.
Maryville College is hosting a Career and Intership Fair Thursday, November 3. The fair is open to the community from 2-4 p.m.
Early voting for the November general election has begun runs through Nov. 3. Get out and vote. Here are the early voting locations in Blount County. Remember to bring a photo ID.
Read our 57th and 58th installments of The Dialogue at the bottom of this email where we visit with Rob Shomaker, Treasurer of the Tennessee Winter Beer Fest and James K. Brooks, Sr., president of Southern Signs, Inc.
Get ready to rev up your engine with Rusty Wallace, a member of NASCAR's Hall of Fame, as he takes the pole position as the guest speaker for the Blount Partnership's Best of Blount Awards, Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m., at the Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus.
Sponsored by Rusty Wallace Kia, tickets are $30 and available by calling the Blount Partnership 865.983.2241, online or at the Partnership office located at 201 S. Washington St., in Maryville. A premium $45 ticket is available for special seating and a photo and autograph opportunity with Wallace prior to the event.
The Best of Blount Awards focus on the Blount County community as a whole rather than only on the business sector. It celebrates those individuals and businesses that give their time and resources to make this area an outstanding place to live and work.
Awards will be given for Philanthropist of the Year, Community Impact Award, Bright Future Award, Business of the Year and the Tourism Award.
Jeff Francis, Assistant Administrator Workers' Compensation Division from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, will be at the Blount Chamber on Wednesday, Nov. 16 from 3-4 p.m.

He will discuss the latest updates to the Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act as well as Bureau Rules or Policies and effective dates of those updates and more.

RSVP to Amy to register.
This Nov 26, we want to celebrate Small Business Saturday with you! It's a special holiday created so communities can show love for small local businesses. And it wouldn't be a celebration without businesses like you joining us!
The day was setup to help businesses with their most pressing need -- getting more customers. The day encourages people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The single day has grown into a powerful movement, and more people are taking part than ever before.
If your small business is interested in participating, please email Amy your logo and specials for the day. We are trying to get the word out about shopping locally at the beginning of the holiday season.
Whiskey lovers from East Tennessee and beyond are invited to attend an unprecedented event in Blount County on Saturday, November 5. Grains and Grits, a celebration of Southern spirits and gourmet grub, will bring more than two dozen Tennessee distilleries to the Townsend Visitors' Center.

The festival showcases a who's-who of Tennessee whiskey legends, including Jack Daniels Master Distiller Jeff Arnett, who will be participating in his first-ever East Tennessee tasting, and other national whiskey names such as George Dickel. A bevy of craft distillers from throughout the state will also sample their spirits to attendees, including Old Forge, Popcorn Sutton, Thunder Road and Chattanooga Whiskey.

Grains and Grits is being arranged and hosted by the Tennessee Distillers Guild and the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority (SMTDA).

While Tennessee whiskey serves as the event's focus, there will be plenty of offerings for non-whiskey-drinkers. Several area restaurants will serve food, and many area breweries and wineries will be in attendance.

World-renowned resort Blackberry Farm will serve both food and beer. Live music will provide a backdrop for the celebration.

Grains and Grits is an opportunity for distillers to connect with customers face to face, and nearly two dozen of them have signed up to offer samples at the event.

Tickets for Grains and Grits are $60 online and $70 the day of the event, and VIP parking is $10. They can be purchased at The website also includes more information about the event.
It's Your Career! That's the focus of free soft skills sessions offered in partnership by the Blount County Public Library, the Adult Education Foundation of Blount County and the Blount County Chamber of Commerce that are scheduled over the next eight months.

Registrations are currently being accepted for the second class set for Nov. 18 entitled, "Make Your Social Media Look Good Using Free Tools." Learn how to sharpen your online presence for a consistent, professional delivery of your brand or image. Explore tools and platforms for easy-to-create designs and beautiful graphics. Bring your laptop or tablet or one will be provided for your use.

All classes are conducted in the Blount County Library's learning lab located at 508 N. Cusick in Maryville and limited to 50 participants. Those interested must register online at A complete class description is located on the registration site. All classes run from 8-10 a.m. with networking beginning at 7:30 a.m.

The other classes offered include Managing People & Personalities, Tips for Public Speaking, Hiring Good Employees, Motivation and Burnout, Time Management and Managing Change in the Workplace.
Check out the November member-to-member promtions, please do. New offers are being posted weekly, so check out the Blount County Chamber of Commerce Member-to-Member promotions online. This Member-to-Member Promotional Program offers you and your company the opportunity to market your products and services to the membership.
Here's how it works:
1. Submit a PDF of a service, product or discount you'd like to offer to the Chamber membership to Be sure to include an expiration date.
2. An email with all the promotions will be sent out on the final Monday of every month to our member database.
3. All promotions will be posted on
Marketers see LinkedIn as the second most valuable social network to grow and market a business, with it behind only Facebook (V3B Blog). There are 300 million users on LinkedIn and 1 million of those professionals have published a post (Social Pilot). This is one of many reasons the social media platform has become an excellent tool for networking and creating awareness for your small business. Read more

Learn more about marketing your small business in a digital world, ask questions about social media, and take the time to discuss future campaign ideas. What are you waiting for? It's free with your chamber membership. Schedule your FREE session today.
If you have any questions regarding your free digital marketing member benefit ( Save Local Now), your digital platform, or online marketing in general please reach out the Blount Chamber's Rachel Coffman. She is here to help you in the year ahead and will keep you on track as you fulfill your resolutions in 2016.
Think local first + Buy local when you can = Being a local!
Buying local foods has numerous health benefits to your family.
Find what you're looking for in the Chamber Directory.
Is your organization hosting an event in the community? Submit it here on our community calendar. If it's a tourism event, please email Ashlee so she can post it on
Also, please send us any news releases or good news about your business. We'd love to share it with the community.
"Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," a song performed and co-written by American singer-songwriter Christopher Cross topped the Billboard Music Charts this week in 1981. It was the main theme for the 1981 film Arthur starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli. The song won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1981.



Oct. 31-Nov. 6


October 31 -- Trick or Read at Blount County Public Library
November 1 -- Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center hosts Tuesdays @ 2
November 1 -- Network Training Class
November 1 -- Best of Blount Awards
November 2-4 -- Monte Walker, Roy Lindsey, and Bonnie McCampbell @ The Townsend Visitors Center
November 3 -- Maryville College Career and Internship Fair
November 3 -- Spirit of Good Neighbors Awards Dinner
November 3 -- Graffiti Houses of the Civil War @ Blount County Public Library
November 4-5 -- Flower Shop, Inc. Fall & Christmas Open House
November 4 -- Camelot Care Center - Ribbon Cutting & Grand Opening
November 4 -- Fall Mountain Home Tour sponsored by Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center Guild
November 4 -- Recovery Revolution at RIO Revolution
November 5-9 -- Tom Sciple @ The Townsend Visitors Center
November 5 -- Smoky Mountain Quilters, present the 9th Annual Quilters Roadshow @ Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
November 5 -- Run for Lucas - Bike Ride & 5k
November 5 -- Handcrafter's Showcase-Benefitting the Mary E. Tippitt Library @ Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center


Nov. 7-13



Save the Date


You can access the entire calendar here to see other community events and submit your own.

Premier and Presidential Partners

The Dialogue

This feature is a question-and-answer session with a new Blount County Chamber member. So here we go with our 57th installment visiting with Rob Shomaker, Treasurer of the Tennessee Winter Beer Fest which benefits the New Hope Blount County Children's Advocacy Center.
How did the Beer Fest begin? The Tennessee Winter Beer Fest began as an idea. Honestly, it was Mike Adams who was the General Manager at what we all remember as The Market. Mike wanted to do a beer festival and after gathering several of us together to make it happen the Tennessee Winter Beer Fest was born. We all agreed from the beginning that the proceeds had to benefit a local charity. As many of us were already involved with New Hope Blount County Children's Advocacy Center in one way or another, it made sense for the event to benefit New Hope.
Describe what the Beer Fest does. We put on a beer festival! Our mission is: MISSION: To promote the regional craft beer culture within East Tennessee through intimate events and gatherings while supporting local charities. We've done the annual TNWBF for 5 years, 2017 will be our 6th. We've got a great volunteer board who makes the event happen. We're also a 501c3 and registered with the state as non-profit which helps ensure we can maximize our donation each year. We also pride ourselves on keeping the event 1) focused on TN brewers and 2) small. We only sell 300 tickets each year and we have always sold out. We believe this is important in creating the right atmosphere as we want people to be able to engage with and hang out with the brewers. We also don't want our brewers to feel like they are working but able to enjoy the event too. I tell people this event feels a lot like a big party in your buddy's backyard.
What is the board's background? Several of our board members work in the industry. Adam Palmer is the President/Founder of Saw Works. Dr. Todd White is with the South College Brewing Science Program, Nathan Robinette is the brains behind The Casual Pint Franchise - the fastest growing beer franchise in the country. Steve Fillmore is a huge craft beer advocate and knows his way around a smoker pretty well - so he handles all our food. Mayor Mike Talley of Townsend is another huge beer advocate and has opened a lot of doors in the community for us. Andy Atkinson and Mike Adams are both with Charter Communications. They seems to know everybody. Andy is also with the Blount County Homebrewers. Johnny Miller currently is the General Manager of the Farragut Casual Pint and is well connected in the beer industry. Don Kline and I (Rob Shomaker) founded almost 6 years ago and while we don't make our living in this industry, the blog has opened up so many doors for us and as a result we've gotten to do cool events like this, Hops for Hope, Knox Beer Week and I also now write for the Tennessee Craft Beer Magazine. So I don't know that it's any particular skill other than a love of craft beer and the community that comes along with it!
Describe the people that attend. The people that come to this event are nothing short of awesome. They love craft beer, they love the community they are a part of, they love New Hope. They're awesome and the reason we've been able to donate a total of $50K to New Hope the last 5 years.
What do you enjoy about the Beer Fest? Two things: 1) I love working with our board - these guys are awesome and I'm so glad we get to do this together. 2) While the event is always great, it goes by in a flash. What really makes it worthwhile is when the dust settles, the bills get paid and we get to hand New Hope a big silly check. Makes it all worthwhile.

The Dialogue

This feature is a question-and-answer session with a new Blount County Chamber member. So here we go with our 58th installment visiting with James K. Brooks, Sr., president of Southern Signs, Inc., which provides signage needs to businesses in our community and the surrounding areas. We are in business to create quality signage for our customers at an affordable price.
Describe what you do. Southern Signs, Inc. designs, fabricates, installs and services "signs of all kinds." We also offer on site welding and crane service to 125.
How did you get started? My father began the sign company in Oak Ridge in 1977. Once I came on board, we moved to our current location and continued to grow the business. We are now a third generation family owned and operated small business and look forward to continuing to prosper.
What is your background? I began working with my father while still in high school. His business knowledge, combined with my artistic drive, led to shared skills that have helped Southern Signs strive.
Who is your mentor? Above all others, God. He continues to provide for my family and allows us to work with and support each other. I must also give credit to my father who brought me up in the sign business and began the company I now operate.
Describe your customers. We provide services to many loyal customers including several large oil companies, restaurants and banks as well as many small local businesses. We are proud to serve customers today that have been with us since the start up of Southern Signs. Some of our customers include Downey Oil Company, Coffman Oil Company, Pioneer Petroleum, Hackney Petroleum, Buddy's Bar-B-Q, Full Service BBQ Alcoa Tenn Federal Credit Union, Mountain Commerce Bank, SouthEast Bank and Tennessee State Bank.
Name three things you wish you knew when you started. 1. I wish I had known more about communicating with employees in a professional manner and the importance of "leading" instead of "pushing". 2. I wish I had had experience with banking on a business level such as loans for equipment and other financial burdens. 3. Taxes. I wish I had been more informed about the processes of business taxes.
What do you enjoy most about your business? I enjoy designing and producing a sign that increases my customer's profit margin by attracting attention to their business. It is a blessing to be able to do this alongside my wife, son and daughter as well as our quality employees.