The Blount Partnership is committed to leading the Blount County business community through this crisis. Be sure to check out our continually updating Managing Your Business during COVID-19 webpage. If you missed a daily update, refer to our listing page .
Don't forget you can view upcoming webinars and review past ones here , including last T hursday's webinar entitled Integrating Employees Back Into The Workplace presented by Keeli Boyce from Express Strategic Services.

Be sure to register to our next webinar about best LinkedIn Practices in this email.

Additionally, Allevia Technology has two ways to help your business save money right now.

Check out our latest edition of The Dialogue in this email where we visit with new Blount Chamber member Cassie Brown of Cassie Brown HR Consulting.
HAPPY STAR WARS DAY
USA Today published an article highlighting six ways to mark #MayThe4th while in carbonite quarantine.

Why May 4, you ask? Why, it's right there in the date, a play on "May the Force be with you."

This Star Wars Day, it's time to celebrate the upcoming 40th anniversary of "The Empire Strikes Back," which premiered May 21, 1980, and introduced Yoda.

WIN A MARKETING PACKAGE
Express Strategic Services is giving away a Marketing Package valued at $1,500 to one local business in our area!

What business do you think deserves some marketing support? Nominate them by tagging their business page in the comments of Facebook post and telling them what makes their company so wonderful and what their challenge has been during this time.

ESS will be voting as a team Friday on who is selected and will announce the winner via Facebook Live on Thursday, May 7.
TENNESSEE PLEDGE GUIDELINES
Gov. Bill Lee continues to issue the first steps for the “Tennessee Pledge,” the state’s roll out of guidance and best practices for Tennessee businesses in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to keep employees and customers safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The full guidance offered by the state can be  found here along with printable guidelines and a business toolkit .


Knox County and Knoxville city businesses must adhere to the Knox Government guidelines posted here .
REFUSAL TO WORK FORM
The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development has added a return to wo rk refusal form.

If an employer reopens for business, and requests an employee return to work, that employee must report to remain eligible for unemployment benefits. Federal law requires individuals who have been placed on a temporary layoff related to the COVID-19 health emergency return to work if called back.

If a Tennessee employer has an employee who refuses to return to work, that employer can notify the Department of Labor and Workforce Development by filling out the form found in the link below.

LINKEDIN BEST PRACTICES
May 6 at 8:30 a.m.

Business connections matter now more than ever. Join the Blount Partnership and Epic Nine Marketing for our Best Practices in LinkedIn virtual workshop on May 6, 2020 at 8:30 a.m. to focus on how to highlight your portfolio, optimize your connections, and develop a sophisticated strategy to achieve results.  

Join Our Webinar Powered by Zoom Meeting
 
Attendees are asked to register in advance for this meeting.
 
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
SOFT SKILLS TRAINING WEBINAR
Free soft skills sessions are offered in partnership by the Blount County Public Library, the Adult Education Foundation of Blount County and the Blount County Chamber of Commerce.

All sessions will be conducted via Zoom Meeting.  Click here to download Zoom . It's FREE!

Registrations are currently being accepted online at  www.blountchamber.com   for a class entitled  Empowering and Motivating Employees on May 29 . Empower employees and enable better performance. Learn strategies to help employees be the best they can be..

All participants will earn .5 CEUs per session for participating. They will also receive an email survey two months after workshop participation to assess application of new ideas.
THE DIALOGUE WITH CASSIE BROWN
This feature is a question-and-answer session with a new Blount County Chamber member. So, here we go with our 156th installment visiting with Cassie Brown, owner of Cassie Brown HR Consulting which will partner with you for all your people needs whether you are a newly formed startup that needs help getting off the ground, or a well-established enterprise that needs help optimizing your HR strategy, policies, practices, programs or processes.

Describe what your business does.
We provide a wide range of HR services to individuals, small businesses, non-profits, and corporate clients. Our services are tailored to the unique needs of each business. We work as part of your team, understanding your needs and what matters most to you. Services include: Compliance, COVID-19 planning and execution, Employee Relations, HR Consulting, HR Technology, Learning and Development, Mergers and Acquisitions, and Policy/Program/Process Design/Optimization.

How did you get started in this business?
After working in all areas of HR for almost two decades, I decided it would be great to share my knowledge, skills and abilities with a broader range of clients, instead of just one company. So, I did some research and opened up my own firm.

What is your background ?
Many, many years of experience working through large scale transitions, change management, culture alignment, mergers/acquisitions/divestitures, all disciplines in HR, 100's of special projects (large and small scale) and fabulous teachers and co-workers along the way. Additionally, I started in accounting before I moved into HR, and I believe that makes me uniquely qualified.

Who is your mentor?
There have been many, mostly in the form of my direct manager, or leaders throughout the organizations where I worked. I've also had some exceptional coaches throughout my career who have guided my thinking and processing along the way. Mostly providing time and feedback, listening and advising, recommending other resources or tools and advocating for me internally and externally.

Describe your customers.
We provide a wide range of HR services to individuals, small businesses, non-profits, and corporate clients. Our services are tailored to the unique needs of each business and can be delivered onsite or remote.

What environments impact your work?
Anything that drives employee/people behavior impacts my business. And, as local, state and federal laws change, HR leaders (and employers) have to stay abreast of all changes and updates in order to stay compliant.

Name three things you wish you knew when you started.
This is a great question! I actually ask this when I am discussing working with a new client in the form of, "what do you wish someone would have told you before _____." One thing I didn't know when I started setting up my LLC was ALL the requirements based on where your company operates. So much so, that I wrote a 'How To' blog about how to set up your LLC.

What do you enjoy about running your business?
So far, I have really enjoyed networking with peers and clients, sharing my new business with my network, and learning about the challenges and needs of the businesses in our market. I really believe that there is a need for my services locally and beyond and I am excited to expand my network here with more local businesses.
REVIEW OUR BUSINESS RESOURCES
If you have questions about any business related topic about the COVID-19 crisis, please refer to our Managing Your Business During the COVID-19 Outbreak page that is updated daily. There's good information that can point you in the right direction.

Also take advantage of our member-to-member offers at the bottom of this email and online . There are a number of resources that you may find beneficial.
We have compiled quick reference sheets for these SBA Loan options.
FACEBOOK GROUPS YOU NEED TO JOIN
Please do the following for both jobs and food groups:
(1) JOIN as your business page AND as an individual.
(2) SHARE with other businesses and individuals so they can join (membership is NOT required to join or post for this group!)
(3) POST your business' NEW or existing take-out/delivery services, menu specials, precautions you are taking for the safety of customers, etc.

We continue to add to the number of available jobs, so please share and post to this public Facebook group . This page was established to assist those looking to hire with an additional outlet.

If your company expects or is experiencing layoffs or work furloughs, or needs employees to fill open positions, please email Jessica Belitz at jbelitz@blountpartnership.com or call 865.273.1214.
We've also created a public Facebook group page . The goal is to offer another way for area restaurants and service providers to promote their menus, takeout & delivery specials and ANY other information they'd like to share with the public.

Help us help and support our businesses when they need us most. Click the link below to view or offer a product or service to assist the public or business community.

MEMBER TO MEMBER RESOURCES
Listed below are resources offered by our Blount Chamber members that may be beneficial during these trying times. Please review and share with another business operator if you think it may be helpful.

Send us your resources and we'll continue to communicate those out to our membership.
BALLOON PROJECTS FOR GRADS, ETC.
Above the Rest Balloon & Event Design have DIY balloon projects for customers that will bring a smile to anyone. Watch this story from WBIR and then jet on over to its order page .

BEEF. IT'S WHAT'S FOR DINNER
Century Harvest Farms is offering 10% off a purchase from its online store
Use the code BLOUNTCHAMBER at checkout.

BUSINESS/LEADERSHIP ADVISORY
Vistage  — Free public  Coronavirus Resource Center  - a public, one-stop shop to help business leaders better lead themselves and others during these challenging times.
 
Also from Vistage, "The Situation Room" — a twice-weekly informal, live virtual forum for greater Knoxville area business owners, CEOs, and senior executives. Its purpose: To help owners and senior leaders from all industries to stay connected, compare notes, ask questions, share learnings, confront reality, and otherwise get help and perspective from similarly situated peers. Mondays and Thursdays at 11:30a ET, usually an hour or less, depending on number of attendees. Free. Sign-up is required (to avoid Zoom-bombing), contact Vistage Chair  Kurt Greene

BLOUNT COUNTY LIBRARY ONLINE RESOURCES
Blount County Library -- Click the link to the left and see that t he BCPL offers plenty of reading materials through its Tennessee READS resource which provides digital access to both audiobooks and e-books for children and adults. It also offers many online resources for businesses.

COMMUNICATIONS
AT&T -- AT&T will waive domestic wireless plan overage charges for data, voice or text for residential or small business wireless customers incurred because of economic hardship related to the coronavirus pandemic. These fees will be retroactively waived, dating back to March 13. We will not terminate the service of any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer because of their inability to pay their bill due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. See expansion of our low cost home broadband service. 

Spectrum Enterprise -- Offering existing fiber clients the ability to upgrade their current bandwidth on a month to month basis, as many companies will need increased speeds to allow employees to work from home or to host video conferencing.

DEVICE REPAIR
Cell Phone Repair (CPR) -- Offering free pick up and delivery repair service on your laptops, tablets and mobile devices. Device will be disinfected upon return.

DIGITAL SERVICES & ADVERTISING
WVLT-TV -- Offering TV advertising and digital services like SEO, SEM, targeted video and display and OTT. Willing to match in value for new advertisers schedule to get the word out for “we are open,” “we are hiring,” etc. Contact Allen Koch .

EMPLOYER - EMPLOYEE COMMUNICATIONS
Gallaher & Assoc . -- proactive in research, outbreak response planning, communications with our employees and customers.  The resources we've have assembled may not fit for everyone, but I am pleased to share with all to assist in any way other businesses and employers in the area.   Download here .

EYE CARE
Blount County Eye Center -- Offering doctors to everyone in the community for all eye-related issues and questions. Our doctors are on call 24/7 to triage any needs regardless of if you are a current patient or not, insurance or ability to pay. We're able to help with contact lens supplies, broken glasses and telemedicine options. 

GROCERY DELIVERY FOR IMMUNE DEFICIENT & SENIORS
SCHAS -- SCHAS has created the S.O.S Program to provide grocery delivery services to those who have compromised immune systems or are age 62 or older.

HEALTH AND LIFE BETTERMENT
Resilient Pathway -- Offering free online classes, prayer in the virtual vertical gardens, and an open space for all healthcare providers to reflect and be heard.

MARKETING & HR
Epic Nine -- Free virtual (phone or video conferencing) one hour BaseCamp consultation to help businesses identify and implement marketing strategy.

Express Strategic Services -- Information regarding online presence, website refresh, employee communication, disaster planning. Free 1 hour strategy business/marketing session (done by phone or video conferencing).

ONLINE ORDERING
Reinhart Food Service -- If your restaurant isn’t taking online orders, here’s a great resource that can answer questions and get you started on the path to offering your customers another outlet to connect with you.

Additionally, Reinhart Food Service has available disposables for To-Go / Takeout needs.

PERSONAL MEETING SPACE
Airport Hilton -- Working from home not going as planned or just need a quite space to get work done? The Hilton Knoxville Airport is offering a special Home Office Package during this time where seclusion is key. Please contact the hotel's Sales and Catering Department to inquire. 865-970-4300 option 2.

Luxbury Inn -- Do you or a family member need a quiet space? Let Luxbury Inn help with suites offering spacious lodging space that are complete with full size appliances and strong Wi-Fi.

PEST MANGEMENT
Pest-OPS : Let us help manage mosquitoes for $45/month. We can also take care of your spiders, carpenter bees and wasps at your home and business. Please give Jeff Haun a call at 865-567-7665.

PPE
Graphic Creations has an ample supply of personal protection supplies, including cloth masks.

PRINTING
Ullrich Print Plus -- Offering 20% discount on all in-house printed materials including print, copy and sign services. All promotional products are a 10% discount. These offers are good for Blount County businesses. We also have access to certified Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Moving to Blount County in May. 3211 Regal Drive Unit B Alcoa TN 37701

PROFESSIONAL CLEANING
Restoration 1 -- COVID-19 Emergency Disinfection available 24/7. Providing disinfecting services for retail businesses that have a confirmed or unconfirmed Covid 19 exposure. Our prices are $0.55 a square foot for most places.

SERVPRO -- Trained to adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitization standards set forth by the CDC. Call 865-982-2332 or email office@servproblountcounty.com

REMOTE WORKFORCE
PCS, Inc – We can help your organization with secure remote control of office PCs, secure VPN access, remote monitoring and maintenance, or fully managed worry-free IT support. Give us a call at 865-273-1960 or email sales@pcsknox.com .

Allevia Technology -- Produced a video highlighting .four essentials to successfully work from home



Epic Nine -- Keep Your Pants On! How to work remotely and succeed. Learn how using valuable apps can help your team remain connected and productive while working remotely .

Gallaher -- Gallaher is here to assist you with your remote working needs. We offer remote telephony options as well as ways to monitor your business while you are away. Call 865-970-2471 for more information.

C-Spire -- Make your business remote-work ready. Equip your team to work from home or on the go with powerful resources like Office 365 and UC-One from C Spire Business - perfect for business of all sizes.




SEO & DIGITAL MARKETING
BigWheel -- Your website and social media presence are more important than ever. With so many people stuck at home, your social media and website are more important than ever. BigWheel can help you get in front of new customers, keep current clients engaged, and drive sales online. Get a free SEO audit and digital marketing plan.

SIGNAGE
Tip Signs -- Your Local Sign Company is offering 20% off Yard Signs & Banners related to communicating your COVID19 policy to your employees & customers. Also, 10% off all orders with in stock materials.

Hart Graphics can print Tennessee Pledge signs that include window decals and posters. View sample .

FASTSIGNS -- Offering 20% off several of its signage and banner products to help you communicate whatever you need to employees or clients. Call (865) 558-0180.

STAFFING
GemCare -- Gem Care is helping to connect people who have been recently laid off with companies that are experiencing an increase in worker demand. Call us at 865-560-9891 or visit our website

TECHNOLOGY AID
RCN Technologies  announced a COVID-19 community aid program by providing over $10,000 in wireless networking equipment and tech support service free to critical community organizations in healthcare, education, and public safety throughout the East Tennessee region.

RCN can help organizations whose operations have been or will be impacted by COVID-19 with immediate networking and technology needs, including secure, pop-up or temporary wireless networks, CIPA-compliant school bus hotspots, mobile command center networks with advanced threat protection, secure remote access and productivity kits, and more.

Community organizations interested in participating in the free technology aid program can contact RCN at (865) 293-0350 or send an inquiry in through the website at  https://rcntechnologies.com .

TELECOM ANALYSIS
For small businesses, we're happy to review your phone, internet, and cable bills for free! Our goal is to find the best service at the best price in your area. Contact Allevia Technology today to learn more.  

TELEHEALTH
Maryville Wellness Center has started weekly telehealth group therapy sessions to help with COVID-19. View the website for more details.

Maryville Wellness Center and Chilhowee Family Counseling are hosting two online support groups on April 20 at 4 p.m. and April 23 at 10 a.m. 

TRAINING
D1's K2 Performance Center and D1 Knoxville is providing online Bootcamp workouts for fellow Blount Chamber members at no charge through 'D1 to U'!
Download the TrainHeroic app using either of the links for Apple or Android
Or, search the app store for 'TrainHeroic'.
Create an account using your name, preferred email and password.
Enter Access Code: 1584968084
FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA
If you aren't following us on social media, you must. We are constantly updating information as each day progresses. So, give us a like and stay up-to-date as we move through this crisis.


And follow tourism updates here:
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