Health Care Law

January 27, 2011

The House recently voted 245 – to – 189 to repeal President Obama’s Health Care Law.

Do you feel the Senate should also repeal the bill if it comes to the Senate floor for a vote?

If the bill does not see the light of day in the Senate –

Do you favor the Senate cutting funding for parts of the law or eliminate certain provisions of the law?

Please post your responses below

Links for additional information


Daniels New President of Blount Partnership

December 6, 2010

The Joint Operating Committee of the Blount Partnership recently named Bryan Daniels as the new president & CEO.  The Blount Partnership is made up of the county’s four key development organizations – the Blount County Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Foundation, Economic Development Board and the Smoky Mountain Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Read more @

What should your Chamber be working on in 2011? Give us your top 3.

September 22, 2010

We need to hear from YOU! As the Chamber begins the planning cycle, it’s imperative that we hear from you.    We need to know what top three priority issues that all six councils of the Chamber can work on together to successfully accomplish in 2011.  Number one being the most important.   In case you’ve forgotten, the Chamber’s six councils are:  Membership, Community, Economic, Communications, Tourism, and Governmental.

Leave your top 3 below.

Burden on Small Business

August 11, 2010

Of all the hidden costs now being discovered in the health care bill, one of the most concerning to the business community is Section 9006, which would place an unprecedented burden on small business reporting and paper work requirements. This section includes a provision that requires businesses to file 1099 tax returns starting in 2012 for many purchases.  It’s bad news for all businesses, especially smaller ones, because businesses of all sizes will be required to report on each vendor for all purchases totaling over $600 annually, which will dramatically increase accounting costs and time-consuming paperwork burdens.  The exemption for purchases from corporations will be lifted, and expanded to property (goods), as well as services.  And at a time when our economy needs small businesses to help our country grow out of this recession, saddling them with expensive new requirements and paperwork burdens only further hampers their ability to succeed and ultimately aid in our economic recovery.  On behalf of our members, the Blount Chamber opposes this provision of the health care bill

What can you do?  We encourage you to action.  Visit the National Sign-On Letter to Repeal the 1099 Provision in the Health Care Law and add your organization’s name and urge Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 5141, the “Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act.”

The New Face of Tourism

May 19, 2010

When I sat down to write this blog, I thought of how much the tourism industry has changed since I’ve been with the visitors bureau.  It’s somewhat of an ironic turn of events—our tourism mission in Blount County has evolved into one that focuses on our heritage, history and the preservation of that culture, while at the same time the way we communicate with visitors and potential visitors currently has its foundation in the latest technology.

Today, the marketing plan for Blount County’s tourism industry is one that we wouldn’t have recognized a few years ago—a combination of traditional marketing and public relations, with a strong emphasis on online communication.  It wasn’t that long ago that we didn’t have a blog to share information; there was no facebook to connect with our past and potential visitors; we couldn’t have even imagined tweeting on Twitter; we didn’t share our pictures and videos of events through YouTube; and our Web site was functional, but it wasn’t the necessity that it has become today.

A recent trip led me to really evaluate our online presence, and it inspired the topic for this blog.  On our weekend escape, just like the trip many visitors make to our community, I found myself repeatedly searching online for information.  If we wanted to go to dinner, I’d check out the Web sites of the local restaurants, reviewing the location, menus and pricing.  Then, I would also look at reviews of the restaurants to see what other people had to say.  When we went to a local attraction, again, I found myself online gathering information.  If a Web site was out-of-date, not functional or didn’t have accurate information, I would simply move on to the next site until I found one that appeared to have the “look” for me and the information I needed.

While I have known for a long time that having an online presence was crucial to our business, and to each and every tourism-related business in our community, this trip reinforced this idea, and I wanted to use this blog as a way to encourage you to re-evaluate your online presence.

Gone are the days of putting up a Web site and forgetting about it.  Today’s visitors want interaction, information and immediate response, and if you aren’t willing or able to give that to them, they will simply move on to someone who can.  This means LOST business at the stroke of a key, despite the quality, character or unique attributes you have to offer.  Online marketing provides an easy way to tell your story, sell your business and brand yourself, and while a quality Web site is an investment, much of your online communication can be done through free tools, like facebook and Twitter.

So what am I suggesting?  First, look at the tools you are using to communicate.  Too often the unknown scares people, so instead of using online tools, like starting a facebook page, you ignore it, which means you are missing an opportunity.  And, even worse, if you aren’t online talking about yourself, someone else is probably online talking about you, which can lead to loss of business and damaged reputation.

Now, I’m not saying that traditional approaches aren’t an important part of the recipe for success.  We still have visitors call for information that we mail to them, people stop in just to talk and a well-placed billboard can still drive people to your business.  So, your plan should probably include a good combination of traditional advertising, marketing and public relations as well, but the online element is a critical factor for today’s traveler and one that can’t be ignored.

Next, evaluate your “look.”  Do your Web site and other online presence give potential visitors the impression it should?  If you are outdoorsy, does your site reflect that, or if you’re upscale, is your site upscale?  Look at those who you consider to be your competitors, and compare your site to theirs as well.  By ensuring your “look” matches the image you want to create, you will attract the target audience you are trying to communicate with.

Finally, are you engaged?  You should regularly update your Web site so that visitors can see that it’s an active site with up-to-date information.  If you’re on facebook, don’t “sell” too hard, but make sure to regularly post interesting information and keep the site active.

So as you look ahead and address how to evolve to continue to thrive in today’s economy, I encourage you to focus at least some of your efforts online in order to reach today’s busy travelers.

Your Thoughts on Online Social Networking for your Business

April 26, 2010

As the online social networking landscape changes, we would like to know what social networks you use in your business? From a Chamber standpoint, we use Facebook and Twitter as a means to communicate to our members and potential members and to generate exposure and branding. Which of the following do you use in your business? i.e. LinkedIn, Twitter, FastPitch, BizNik, Ecademy, Plaxo, HiveLive, Facebook, MySpace. Of these, approximately how much time do you spend each week on social nets AND more importantly, have you been able to track back any income from your social networking sites or is it more of a branding/communications tool?

Lending in the midst of an economic downturn

April 6, 2010

The Industrial Development Board of Alcoa, Maryville, and Blount County (IDB) would like  to utilize recovery act facility bonds (tax exempt) made available by Congress to finance construction of a new technology speculative building (50,000 sq ft.) in our new regional technology park, Pellissippi Place.  We have 2 companies who will occupy 40% of the total floor space inside the facility. Private developers in our area are hesitant to invest into facilities like these because they are very niche buildings which require a lot of infrastructure.  The average size of these R&D companies is 17 people.  Therefore, we would like to use recovery act bonds to finance construction of this type of facility.

The issue that we are facing is that we have met several times with all of our financial institutions about the loan(s) needed for construction of the facility.  Our three governments have guaranteed that the IDB will have sufficient funding to retire the debt for the facility as soon as the economy recovers.  Our financial institutions have stated that a good portion of the problem is the bank examiners poor opinion of these types of loans.  They are called classified loans and banks are being told to stay away from them, even though our IDB is financially healthy.  The Banks have said they want the facility 80% leased before they can loan the money to our IDB.  This position does not work for us because these tech companies are so small it would take several of them before we can reach our 80% thresh hold.  These companies cannot wait on a critical mass to evolve because they need space quickly.  The tech companies don’t have the time to wait a year or two while we try to bring others into the facility.

Our financial institutions have encouraged us to speak to all of our elected officials about the poor lending attitudes of the bank examiners.  Have you experienced a similar situation,  with the examiners being so conservative and the money that Washington has made available to help kick start development is not getting out?

Health Care Legislation

February 22, 2010

Ever since the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts several weeks ago to fill the Senate seat of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, there has been a great deal of speculation regarding if, how or when Congress would proceed on Health Care Legislation.

There are a number of scenarios, and among the strategies the White House and Congressional leaders are discussing are:

  1. Finish negotiations after Scott Brown is seated, and try to find a GOP Senator to support the bill since Brown campaigned on being the 41 vote against the bill.
  2. Reconciliation, which means the bills must go back to the Committees, many parts would be diced up under the Byrd Rule, and non-tax provisions would expire after 5 years.
  3. Scale down the House and Senate bills and pass smaller bills addressing single provisions one at a time that everyone can agree upon.
  4. The House passes the Senate-passed bill verbatim with no changes, but with assurances from the Senate to make major changes later that and would require only 51 votes. This is the strategy that seems to receive most of the attention.

Please let us know which scenario or strategy we need to encourage Congress to take. Additional Comments.

Do you find work ethics in your employees improving or declining?

January 25, 2010

Do you find work ethics in your employees improving or declining?  What do you attribute to the improvement or decline?

Are you seeing “a turn around” with your business?

November 12, 2009

National indicators and the news media reports that the recession is over.  Are you seeing “a turn around” with your business?