Knoxville competing for billion-dollar company

Knoxville is in the running for a company that could potentially invest $1 billion and create thousands of new jobs, Knoxville Chamber Chairman Michael Strickland said Thursday.

The chamber is competing “right now for a huge company with huge federal funding that is
Michael+Strickland.jpglooking at us, Virginia and Texas,” Strickland said in remarks at the chamber’s annual meeting at Cafe 4 on Market Square.

Initially the unidentified company could employ 1,000 workers and in five to 10 years the company has the potential for 5,000 to 10,000 workers, Strickland said.

“It’s a big, big, big deal,” said Strickland, founder and CEO of Bandit Lites, a gloabal leader in the entertainment lighting marketplace.

In interviews following the meeting, chamber staff declined to identify the company Strickland was talking about and said no major announcements are imminent.

Doug Lawyer, the chambers vice president of economic development, said the chamber is talking to a number of large companies that are interested in Knoxville, including a consumer products company that “would be a major employer.”

Chamber President and CEO Mike Edwards said Strickland engaged in “poetic license” in describing the scope of the potential investment and job creation.

No matter what size a company is, Knoxville’s biggest challenge in successfully recruiting new businesses is a lack of available land, Strickland said.

The lack of available land is what makes development of the proposed Midway Business Park in East Knox County so important, Strickland said.

He urged area business leaders to attend public meetings next month to discuss the park. Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett has scheduled meetings on Nov. 16 and Nov. 18 to allow citizens to make suggestions about the controversial park.

News Sentinel Photo: Michael Strickland