Blount Partnership News & Event

It's coffee club week! Join us this Thursday, Oct. 27 at Quinn Appliance (160 S. Calderwood St., Alcoa) at 7:45. Coffees are designed to offer our members the opportunity to build business relationships with other members and to gain exposure for their business or organization in an "open house" setting. Coffees are open to anyone associated with a Chamber member business. Participation is not reserved to the representative(s) listed on the Chamber membership.
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.
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 55th and 56th installments of The Dialogue at the bottom of this email where we visit with James Westbrook, owner of Westbrook Repair & Remodeling and Ben & Angela Crawley, owners of FirstLight HomeCare of Maryville.
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. Reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres begins at 5:45.
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.
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.
Do you have one hour per month to help students in your community transition from high school to college? tnAchieves, local partnering organization to Gov. Haslam's TN Promise, needs 9,000 mentors to work with high school students from the Class of 2017. Mentors remind students of important deadlines, serve as a trusted college resource and, most importantly, encourage students to reach their full potential. The time commitment is small, but the impact can be life changing for a first generation college student trying to navigate the college going process. Learn more or register at
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 seven 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.
Get your November member-to-member promotions in this week because the updated email goes out Monday, Oct. 31.

If you haven't checked out the October 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
Improve your Search Engine Optimization with these 3 easy steps:
Update your business description.
Describe your business, your services, and even the history. As long as you are using around 250 words, search engines will be more likely to find your page and rank it higher.
Add keywords.
Include as many words as you can think of that relate to your business. Try thinking of keywords that people would used if they were looking for a business like you.
Share your content.
Share your profile, promotions, deals, or events through your social media! This will help spread the word about your posts as well as increase your SEO.

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!
Small local businesses are the largest employers nationally and create two out of every three new jobs.
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.
In the midst of a three-week run atop the Billboard Hot 100, "I Just Called to Say I Love You," by Stevie Wonder was No. 1 this week in 1984. The song was first featured in the 1984 comedy The Woman in Red,] along with two other songs by Wonder. The song also received three nominations at the 27th Grammy Awards for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year and Best Pop Instrumental Performance.



Oct. 24-30


October 24 -- Quality Financial Concepts - Shred It
October 24-26 -- Cathy Coulter @ The Townsend Visitors Center
October 24 -- Blount County Recovery Court Graduation @ Rio Revolution
October 24 -- Southern Appalachian Studies Series: Appalachian Basketry at Blount County Public Library
October 25 -- Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center hosts Tuesdays @ 2
October 26 -- Medicare Plans and Changes for 2017 at Blount County Library
October 27 -- Coffee Club at Quinn Appliance
October 27-29 -- Lyda Plemons, Corrinne Coley & Anna Bolton @ the Townsend Visitors Center
October 28 -- United Way of Blount County Blount Bridges Workshop
October 28 -- 2nd Annual Harbours Gate "Seeds of Hope"
October 28 -- Recovery Revolution at RIO Revolution
October 30 -- Foothills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship hosts Death Cafe
October 30 -- Fall Festival at 1st United Methodist Church
October 30-31 -- Trick or Read at Blount County Public Library


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 -- 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 -- Handcrafter's Showcase-Benefitting the Mary E. Tippitt Library @ Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center


Save the Date


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

The Dialogue

This feature is a question-and-answer session with a new Blount County Chamber member. So here we go with our 55th installment visiting with James Westbrook, owner of Westbrook Repair & Remodeling which provides a service to our customers that few offer. I do not want my customers to have to call a separate person for the electrical work or the HVAC work or the roofing work when they call us for the plumbing! We are in business to SERVE!
What sets you apart from others? We literally do EVERYTHING for the home! I could list everything we do - and probably should! When I say "everything", some people have this preconceived idea we do everything BUT _____. Not true. We do the _____ also!!! HVAC repair and new units, electrical, plumbing, roofing (certified GAF installer for LIFETIME warranty shingles), flooring, windows, doors, kitchen and bath remodels, custom walk-in showers, painting, drywall, tree trimming and removal, garage doors, gutters, etc., etc.
How did you get started? I learned the basics from growing up on a farm and having to fix what was broken. For 32 years, I did handyman jobs on the weekends and evenings in addition to my full-time job. In 2002, I decided to quit my full-time job and start out on my own doing what I loved. Between my church family and my wife's school, I was so busy that I had to hire a man to help. Then had to hire another and then another. That third man is still with me today!!!
How did you get your background? Many years of trial and error and having to figure out things myself. My dad taught me the basics: common sense, do the best job you can do, do it right the FIRST TIME,learn from your mistakes, etc. If it has been done WRONG - I have done it! If it wasn't broken, it was after I got through with it!!! I did learn from my mistakes and also learned what worked. I have read multiple books and articles relating to what I do. I have taken multiple courses to further my education. I worked in the carpenter shop for Fulton Co. in Atlanta for a while. I continued to perfect my skills until I felt I was good enough to charge for them. I do have a bachelors degree in business Admin. This does help me keep things organized and actually run the business.
Who is your mentor? My dad was always by biggest supporter and mentor. It started when he and my mother adopted my sister Mary and me. I was 1 1/2 yrs. old at the time. If I could have PICKED the perfect parents - it would have been them!!! I will get a little teary-eyed writing this because I miss them so much and I am 63 yrs. old now!!! Anyway - my dad loved having me "work with him" on things on the farm. I know I was NO HELP, but he was teaching me. He took the time to explain how things worked and what was needed to fix it or do the job. He later became my scoutmaster as I went through the Boy Scouts of America and eventually became an Eagle Scout. When I was 12 and swimming at a lake in middle TN, he saw me go under the water and not come back up. He ran and then swam over 300 feet to the place he believe I went down. On his third attempt, he felt the hair on my head about 10 feet below the surface and pulled me up. My lungs were filled with water and my heart was no longer beating. I was basically DEAD!!! About 50 people (inc. family) had gathered at the beach - most crying because I had drowned. My dad - not giving up - proceeded to do the lifesaving measures he was taught in the Navy. God had a plan for my life because after I am not sure how many minutes of no life - I blew out the water from my lungs, coughed for a long time, cried and came back!!! Those sad tears turned into happy ones!!! Although both of my parents have been with the Lord for many years, I continue to remember what they taught me. I continue to do all I can to make my dad proud. I know some day I will see him again and I want him to say "Well done son"!!!
Describe your customers. We can't please 100% of our customers, but we do please around 98%. We strive for quality work at fair prices. Typically, we are cheaper than MOST licensed contractors. If we mess up on something - I WILL send someone back to fix the mess up at no charge (obviously)! We are not perfect. Most of our customers are wonderful. MANY of our customers give us a key to their house not only while we are working there, but to keep for the next time we need to get in. They know they do NOT have to be there for us to work. They don't have to take off work to protect their home or stuff!! We get a LOT of repeat customers and I love that! MANY were friends before we worked for them and now many are friends now that we have worked for them. I consider it a ministry to help my customers when they have a need. Most know they can call me just to ask a question and I will always be HAPPY to help them!!! I love to sit and talk with my customers when I have the time. It is MORE than a business relationship when that is possible.
Name three things you wish you knew when you started. How many men I would end up going through to find a few GREAT ones! How much it would cost in tools and equipment to be able to do EVERYTHING for the home. I wish I had known to start the business when I was YOUNGER!!!
What do you enjoy most about your business? I enjoy helping people. When they have a water leak and are freaking out - I can help. I enjoy running the business because I am helping to provide for 11 families! I am able to use my hands from time to time and use my brain (some may question the AMOUNT of this!) and use what I believe is my God-given gifts. I am NOT someone that could sit around and do nothing! I like it when the guys think for themselves, but I do feel like the wise old man when they come to me with questions of - what should I do here; where do I find this part; what would you do?

There are a LOT of "Handymen" and contractors out there. I am sure we are not the very best and I KNOW we are no where near the worst! We hear horror stories all the time of bad work and people ripping off customers, etc. MANY times we go behind someone else to correct something done wrong. I just try to do a quality job at a fair price. We are state licensed, insured and bonded. I am a Air Force veteran (service connected disability) but do not let the disability slow me down (much). I am a family man with eleven grandchildren. I am a Christian. I am proud of all of these which is probably not politically correct this day and age! There are things I believe in and things I do NOT believe in. I do not judge! Your choices are between you and God. I'm just and ole country boy from TENNESSEE who does what I can!!!

The Dialogue

This feature is a question-and-answer session with a new Blount County Chamber member. So here we go with our 56th installment visiting with Ben & Angela Crawley, owners of FirstLight HomeCare of Maryville which provides in-home non-medical companion care and personal care. We provide exceptionally trained caregivers wherever the client may be, be that at home, in a skilled nursing facility, a retirement community, transitional care unit, or even at the hospital.
What are your talents that make this work? Angela's natural talent for caring and extensive experience as a hospice RN made starting a FirstLight HomeCare franchise in the Maryville/greater Knoxville area an easy choice. My experience in business management and desire to really be a part of the community I grew up in after having not lived here for 15 years has given me the desire to give this a solid go.
How did you get started? FirstLight HomeCare is a franchise based out of Cincinnati, OH. The franchise has been in existence for seven years and has more than 120 units operating, providing exceptional care, across the country. Ben chose this franchise to build his business because of the over-and-above attention to the caregiver, corporate support and culture.
What is your background? I have been in business management for the last 11 years, mostly in a technical industrial and engineering setting, in both large and small companies. That experience coupled with an Undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering from Tennessee Tech, and a Masters in Business Administration from UT Chattanooga, the skills required to succeed are there. It's the enthusiasm and excitement for another adventure, an adventure I can share with my wife that make the decision to dive in, no matter how scary that can be at first, something I just had to do.
Who is your mentor? I think about all the senior managers and HR managers who cared to look out for me when I just got started in my career in a really large company. They come to mind first. Second I think about my family. But most of all these days I think about my wife now. She is the balance to me and without her there would be no way to explore this venture. Her personality for caring, her natural talent and desire to care and her sheer experience doing so make this possible and guide me.
Describe your customers. Our customers are naturally our elders in the community. Being able to respectfully provide them dignity on a daily basis is truly at the core of what we aim to provide. But FirstLight HomeCare is designed to provide services to anyone 18 years or older. Whether it be due to disability or even dementia care, we provide our caregivers to develop skills that take their capabilities to more than just our communities aging population.
What impacts your business most? In this country, every day - every day, 8-10,000 people turn 65. There is a huge demographic shift that is going on in this country which is leading to a much higher percent of the population reaching their golden years. This represents a fairly strong opportunity for FirstLight HomeCare. And even though we do have good quality competitors out there right here in our community, the need is still there. We like to work together with our "competitors" to make sure a need in the community is filled. Political concerns are always there as right now the regulatory climate for Home Care companies is fairly light, and we can survive with a private pay model. If regulations step in to change that and place limits our economic environment, things will change.
What do you enjoy most about your business? Independence. I am my own boss. This is mine to succeed or fail. I also like that it is a fully modeled and built-out franchise. I feel like I do have a helping hand there that I can lean on if need be at times.
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