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VOL. 43 | NO. 24 | Friday, June 14, 2019

Sword & Shield bought, forming Avertium

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Knoxville-based Sword & Shield Enterprise Security, a national cybersecurity firm, has been acquired by Sunstone Partners, an equity firm.

The acquisition will bring together Sword & Shield, Terra Verde of Phoenix and TruShield of Reston, Virginia, to form Avertium.

“Our willingness and ability to listen to our customers and respond to their needs resulted in programs that facilitated our success and gained Sunstone’s attention,” says John McNeely, Sword & Shield CEO and president. “With the additional resources a growth equity firm provides, we can better serve the middle market and provide enhanced services for enterprise customers.”

The former Sword & Shield and TruShield comprise Avertium’s East operations. Terra Verde now serves as Avertium’s West location and provides a second security operations center to current customers. In addition, McNeely has assumed the position of general manager for Avertium’s East operations, and Jeff Schmidt of Atlanta is Avertium’s CEO.

Sword & Shield has provided cybersecurity risk and compliance expertise for more than 22 years.

Kerns property to become mixed-use development

Ozone Capital Management, LLC and its partners, will construct a new boutique housing community in Knoxville as part of a mixed-use project redeveloping the historic Kerns Bakery site.

Ozone Capital’s operating partner is Mallory & Evans Partners. The investment, made on behalf of and alongside entrepreneurs, institutional investors, family offices, finance executives and technology leaders, will go toward constructing a 160-unit, 310 bed multifamily community.

The community is designed to appeal to millennials and members of Generation Z – including young professionals, graduate students, medical students and upper classmen from nearby University of Tennessee.

The fully-furnished one- and two-bedroom apartments will have the latest smart-home technology. The two-bedrooms will have roommate floorplans with a private bath for each bedroom. A roommate matching service is available. Amenities will include co-working spaces, a pool, fitness center, a clubhouse, elevators and views of the skyline and greenspace.

The boutique community is the residential component of the innovative Kerns Bakery mixed-use redevelopment. Mallory & Evans Partners will preserve the historic building as a retail, restaurant and entertainment destination with an eclectic, locally-sourced and highly-curated mix of restaurants, smaller food vendors, specialty purveyors and even collaborative office space. The partners expect to add a name-brand hotel in a later phase of development.

New, lower speed limit on part of Chapman Highway

The speed limit has been reduced on Chapman Highway on a stretch of the road that is inside the Knoxville city limits, the result of a traffic study by Knoxville’s engineering department.

The limit has been lowered from 50 to 45 miles per hour on a 1.7-mile section from Ellis Road to the city limits, near Majestic Grove Road. The change makes the speed limit a uniform 45 mph on Chapman Highway inside the city limits. The speed limit on Henley Bridge is 35 mph, and the speed limit from just south of the bridge (near the Kerns’ Bakery building) to Ellis Road was already 45 miles per hour. That speed limit will remain the same, and additional signs will be added that remind drivers of the uniform 45 mph speed limit.

City crews have posted the signs for the speed limit changes.

“Speed is a factor in many crashes and also a factor in the severity of crashes,” says Jim Hagerman, city director of engineering. “By slowing down traffic, we aim to reduce the number of crashes and the extent of injury and damage that occur.”

The Traffic Engineering study included a section of the highway from Ellis Road to Majestic Grove Road. The study involved measuring and analyzing current actual speeds, frequency of driveways and intersections, and other factors. The study reviewed both northbound and southbound speeds on Chapman Highway.

Following analysis of the study, traffic engineers proposed the decrease in speed limit.

“There is a standardized procedure to make the evaluation, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation concurred with our proposed change,” Hagerman says.

Additional safety improvements under construction or being planned:

-- The reconfiguration of the Chapman Highway intersection with Blount Avenue, improving safety for all users. This is part of the Blount Avenue Streetscapes Project that includes $300,000 for signal improvements at this intersection;

-- Currently in the right-of-way acquisition and utility coordination phase: Signalization improvement for the entire Chapman corridor (project cost estimated at $2 million);

-- Collaborating with the TDOT to improve bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure on Chapman Highway by creating 3,200 feet of greenway between Stone Road and Woodlawn Pike and 525 feet of sidewalk from Woodlawn Pike to the existing sidewalk near Young High Pike.

State hemp program has new regulations

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has announced rule changes for the state’s hemp program to better serve hemp producers.

“Farmers have been growing and researching this crop in Tennessee since the program began in 2015 as a pilot program,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. says. “The hemp industry and federal laws have changed in recent years, and we’re updating our program rules to be more consistent with how other crop programs are managed.”

The application period for a license to grow hemp is now open year-round. Licenses will expire June 30 of each year, and all grower licenses issued in 2019 will expire June 2020.

Other program changes include:

-- Hemp processors will no longer be required to register through TDA.

-- The hemp program will no longer issue licenses for certified seed breeders. However, anyone manufacturing, distributing, or labeling seed should be licensed through TDA’s Ag Inputs section.

Growers will still need movement permits when transporting rooted plants and are now required to be permitted when moving harvested hemp from their growing site. TDA has licensed more than 2,900 hemp growers in 2019. In 2018, TDA approved 226 hemp producer applications.

Federal and state laws require Tennessee hemp growers be licensed through TDA’s hemp program. While the 2018 Farm Bill removes hemp from the list of federally controlled substances, it remains illegal to grow hemp without a license through an approved state program.

Christman lands contract for Southwestern building

The Christman Company has been awarded a $17.6 million contract to build Southwestern Community College’s new 55,000-square-foot health sciences building in Sylva, North Carolina.

“This is a unique and challenging building as it will be constructed between two existing buildings in the heart of the Smoky Mountains,” says Marty Gibbs, vice president and general manager for Christman’s Knoxville operations. “We are grateful for this opportunity and look forward to making sure Southwestern Community College has a beautiful, functional and modern new building to showcase its health sciences programs.”

The college, located in Jackson County in Western North Carolina, is about 50 miles from the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and borders the Blue Ridge Parkway. Groundbreaking for the three-story building occurred in May, and the project is expected to be completed in 2021.

TN Bar Association awards $100,000 grant

The University of Tennessee College of Law Legal Clinic has been awarded $100,000 from the Tennessee Bar Foundation to fund a project that will offer civil legal assistance to rural East Tennesseeans.

The Legal Clinic’s project, ExpungeTN, aims to lift barriers for those who want to clear their criminal records and rebuild their lives, and will target vulnerable populations in geographically isolated areas of East Tennessee.

The Tennessee Bar Foundation says it will distribute more than $1 million in awards to encourage innovation in civil legal aid. The UT College of Law is the only Tennessee university to receive an award from the organization.

The College of Law will hire a fellow to assist in launching the project, and that person will “establish dates and times to best partner with east Tennessee courts and judges to offer our services to those who need it,” adds Joy Radice, director of the legal clinic.

UT launches I-TEACH program

The University of Tennessee’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences is unveiling a new program aimed at increasing the number of licensed teachers from diverse backgrounds.

The program, Increasing Teacher Equity to Address Community High Needs (I-TEACH), is funded by a Tennessee Higher Education Commission grant recently awarded to the college to support diversity in education and to fill critical teaching shortages across the state.

The two-year program supports 12 eligible teacher candidates for 33 hours of coursework and clinical practice. Candidates who complete the program will graduate with a master’s degree in teacher education.

Each candidate selected for the program will be assigned two mentor teachers at a partnering school as well as a designated UT adviser, faculty member and supervisor. Partnering school districts include Knox County Schools, Anderson County Schools, Maryville City Schools, Blount County Schools, Lenoir City Schools and Alcoa City Schools.

A statewide shortage of teachers in high-demand subject areas, such as English as a Second Language, math, science, special education and Spanish, coupled with a lack of diversity among the state’s teacher pool were identified as challenges in the Tennessee Department of Education’s most recent Educator Preparation Report Card.

BarberMcMurray lauded for work at AMS

The new laboratory and workspace at Knoxville’s Analysis and Measurement Services Corporation has received a Citation Award from American Institute of Architects East Tennessee Chapter, on behalf of BarberMcMurray Architects for the design of AMS’ new facilities.

In renovating a pre-existing office park, BMA designed an expansive addition to the company’s current footprint, adding 15,000 square feet of laboratory testing spaces, as well as a two-story, state-of-the-art electromagnetic compatibility chamber.

BMA converted the space into a collaborative, functional and beautiful environment. Rather than hiding the massive EMC chamber, BMA made it a centrally prominent design feature, creating a unique showcase that allows AMS the opportunity to illustrate their technological capabilities to visitors.

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