Overstreet named State Star by Tennessee Small Business Development Center network

Laura Overstreet headshot
Under Laura Overstreet’s leadership, the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville assisted clients with $11.3 million in federal disaster assistance in 2020 and $15.3 million in federal disaster assistance in 2021, to date. The Center also assisted in retaining 1,348 jobs in 2020 and 847 jobs in 2021 so far.

Pellissippi State Community College’s Laura Overstreet, director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville, has received the state’s highest honor from her peers and was celebrated this week at America’s Small Business Development Center’s annual conference. 

The State Stars, who were chosen by their SBDC networks, are among the best of the best – those who demonstrate exemplary performance, make significant contributions to their networks and are deeply committed to the success of America’s small businesses. 

“I am honored, but it takes a team,” Overstreet said. “I depend on them heavily, and they are fantastic. You have to have a very well-oiled machine to pull off what we pulled off this last year.” 

The Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville is hosted by Pellissippi State, although its office is located in Market Square. Overstreet joined the Center in 2013 as a business specialist, after owning and operating her own retail business for 17 years. 

“I opened the first legal liquor store in the town that temperance built,” Overstreet explained, referring to Harriman, Tennessee. “I was a self-made entrepreneur. I went from zero sales to $2.5 million at peak. I went from leasing a space to owning a shopping center.” 

Along the way, Overstreet received the Athena Leadership Award and the Sam Walton Business Leader Award and served on several community boards, including chairing the capital campaign to restore the historic Roane County Courthouse.  

Overstreet sold her business in 2010, but found her retirement to be premature, she said. A job posting for the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville piqued her interest. 

“I thought, ‘Isn’t that the perfect thing for me to do?’ because I received so much help from the community when I started my business,” she said. “It sounded like the perfect opportunity to give back.” 

America’s nationwide network of Small Business Development Centers provide one-on-one consulting and training services to new and existing businesses, “at no cost to clients for the life of the business,” Overstreet noted. The SBDCs are funded in part by the U.S. Congress through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Pellissippi State provides the rest of the funding for the Knoxville Center. 

Since joining the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville, which serves seven counties, Overstreet has assisted small businesses in generating over $29 million in capital formation and has helped 85 entrepreneurs start a business. She has earned her Certified Export Specialist designation as well as her Certified Global Business Professional designation, which allowed her to represent Tennessee’s marine equipment manufacturing industry at an international trade show in Amsterdam two years in a row, pre-pandemic. 

“95% of the market for marine equipment is international,” she explained. “We just happen to have a lot of marine equipment manufacturers in Tennessee, and this helped them get leads all over the world.” 

When the coronavirus pandemic hit East Tennessee, Overstreet and her two staff members shifted to “100 percent disaster relief,” she said, helping clients navigate the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, the Shuttered Venues Operations Act, the Restaurant Recovery Fund and more. 

“Our phones rang and rang and rang, seven days a week,” Overstreet remembered. “It was heart-wrenching. The rules for everything were changing constantly. Changes would come out every night around midnight. I felt like I read the Encyclopedia Britannica cover to cover. The three of us worked seven days a week from March (2020) through June (2020).” 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, allowed Overstreet to hire nine part-time consultants, which she called “a huge relief to the team.”  

Under Overstreet’s leadership, the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville assisted clients with $11.3 million in federal disaster assistance in 2020 and $15.3 million in federal disaster assistance in 2021, to date. The Center also assisted in retaining 1,348 jobs in 2020 and 847 jobs in 2021 so far. 

“Our work during the pandemic has been rewarding, but really hard,” Overstreet said. “It was emotionally taxing, but we couldn’t not answer the phones. We had to help.” 

In nominating Overstreet for the award, Overstreet’s team recognized her dedication and commitment to her community, witnessing her expertise, professionalism and willingness to learn in an effort to serve more individuals. 

“Pellissippi State, the TSBDC network and our clients are very fortunate to have someone of Laura’s caliber leading our Center,” said Teri Brahams, executive director of Economic and Workforce Development for Pellissippi State. “She’s a great advocate for our area’s small businesses, an extremely competent business advisor and an exceptional leader. I’m extremely pleased she is part of my team.” 

For more information about the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville, visit www.tsbdc.org/pscc/ or call 865-246-2663. While the Center is located in Market Square, staff meet clients one day each week at the Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce and at the Blount County Chamber of Commerce and one day each month at the Cocke County Chamber of Commerce. 

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COVID-19 boosters available at Pellissippi State this Monday

Pax gets his COVID-19 vaccine
Pellissippi State’s mascot, Pax, and Nursing adjunct instructor Pakesta Washington encourage anyone in the community who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine to drop by the Hardin Valley Campus on Aug. 30 for a Vaccinate and Educate Fair.

Pellissippi State Community College will offer COVID-19 boosters for immunocompromised people at its Vaccinate and Educate Fair next week. 

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held noon-4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 30, outside the Bagwell Center for Media and Art on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. 

Pellissippi State Nursing faculty and students will be administering both the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, which was granted full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Aug. 23, and the one-dose Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Pellissippi State also will offer boosters of Pfizer for those who had their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least eight months ago.  Please bring your original vaccine card. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine, as outlined in this Aug. 18 media statement. This includes people who have: 

  • Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies 
  • Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy 
  • Receipt of CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy) 
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome) 
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection 
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., ≥20mg prednisone or equivalent per day), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory 

Pellissippi State is working with the nonprofit Faith Leaders Initiative and New Directions Healthcare to offer the Vaccinate and Educate Fair for the community. Education stations will provide information about COVID-19 including handouts explaining what the COVID-19 virus is, how vaccines work to combat it and why common myths about COVID-19 and vaccinations are untrue. Free popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones will be available for the entire family. 

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Pellissippi State addresses community’s COVID-19 job losses with free training program

Student in Electrical Engineering TechnologyPellissippi State Community College is launching a free, noncredit training program designed for individuals whose finances or job outlook were negatively impacted by COVID-19.  

The two-part Reimagine Your Career program is for anyone who, at any time since March 2020, has been let go from a job, laid off permanently or temporarily, experienced a reduction in hours or wages, or has had to take a new job that pays less, due to the pandemic. 

Reimagine Your Career features foundational career skills as well as career-specific training. Participants choose the career track they’d like to pursue from options such as customer service, information technology and manufacturing. 

“We focused on career tracks that had the greatest need in the Knoxville area and tracks that would allow someone to fully complete the training and earn an industry-recognized credential in a fairly short amount of time,” said Teri Brahams, executive director of economic and workforce development for Pellissippi State. 

Pellissippi State has partnered with over a dozen local businesses that are actively hiring positions within each Reimagine Your Career track, including Keurig Dr Pepper, Avero Advisors, Timken, Flowers Foods and more. At the end of the program, participants are guaranteed an interview with at least one of the partnering businesses. 

“This is a great opportunity for both the individuals in our community that were impacted negatively from the pandemic and for the businesses that make up our local economy,” Brahams said. “There are people who are seeking a meaningful career path and financial stability, and there are businesses that need people with certain skillsets to fill their open positions. It’s a win-win situation we’re helping provide.” 

students in electrical engineering technology in 2020While the Reimagine Your Career program is provided at no cost to the participants, there is an investment of time. The career foundations training is a 36-hour commitment, while the training in specific career tracks vary from 36 to 140 hours. 

“We know that people are often juggling multiple responsibilities from parenting to working part-time or full-time jobs to taking care of family members, so it was important to us to offer several options,” Brahams said.  

Fall sessions are scheduled at the following times and locations:  

  • Tuesdays & Thursdays, Sept. 7-Oct. 14, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Blount County Campus 
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays, Sept. 7-Oct. 14, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Hardin Valley Campus 
  • Wednesdays & Fridays, Sept. 8-Oct. 8, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Magnolia Avenue Campus 
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays, Nov. 2-Dec. 14, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Blount County Campus 
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays, Nov. 2-Dec. 14, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Hardin Valley Campus 
  • Wednesdays & Fridays, Nov. 10-Dec. 10, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Magnolia Avenue Campus

For more information or to apply for the Reimagine Your Career program, visit www.pstcc.edu/reimagine or call Business and Community Services at 865-539-7167. 

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Pellissippi State offers COVID-19 vaccines at on-campus health fair, open to community

Pax and Nursing student
Pellissippi State Nursing adjunct instructor Pakesta Washington and the college’s panther mascot, Pax, encourage anyone in the community who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine to drop by the Hardin Valley Campus on Aug. 30 for a Vaccinate and Educate Fair.

Still need a COVID-19 vaccine? Pellissippi State Community College will offer free vaccinations, no appointment necessary, at a walk-in Vaccinate and Educate Fair on its Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.  

Mark your calendars now for the health fair, which will be held noon-4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 30, outside the Bagwell Center for Media and Art. Pellissippi State Nursing faculty and students will be administering both the two-dose Pfizer and one-dose Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccines, courtesy of Winbigler Medical.  

Pellissippi State is offering Pfizer as an option so that children ages 12-17 may be vaccinated, so bring the whole family. Those who choose the Pfizer vaccine will be scheduled for their second dose of the vaccine noon-2:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, also on the Hardin Valley Campus. 

Pellissippi State is working with the nonprofit Faith Leaders Initiative and New Directions Healthcare to offer a fair not only for faculty, staff and students, but also for the community after seeing the success of a similar event at the YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Center in East Knoxville this summer. 

“Pellissippi State and New Directions Healthcare wanted to offer this fair to help the public understand the COVID-19 virus, encourage vaccination and answer questions for students, faculty, staff and our neighbors,” said Angela Lunsford, dean of Nursing for Pellissippi State. “With the Delta variant now showing up in Tennessee, we want to stress the importance of vaccination. COVID-19 is never going away, and we must protect our community by increasing the number of vaccinated people. Wearing masks for the rest of our lives is not the answer; getting vaccinated is the answer to this now endemic virus.” 

Education stations staffed by Pellissippi State Nursing faculty and students will provide information about COVID-19 including handouts explaining what the COVID-19 virus is, how vaccines work to combat it and why common myths about COVID-19 and vaccinations are untrue. 

The event will have the feel, however, of a celebration, with free popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones available for the entire family. 

For more information about the Vaccinate and Educate fair, contact Cynthia J. Finch of the Faith Leaders Initiative at 865-254-4793 or CONNECT Ministries at 865-851-8005. 

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Pellissippi State welcomes walk-ups to vaccination clinic

Cars lined up at Pellissippi State's vaccination clinic on April 9
Drivers line up for their COVID-19 vaccinations at Pellissippi State’s drive-thru vaccination clinic on the college’s Blount County Campus on Friday, April 9. When the clinic reopens Friday, April 23, Pellissippi State will welcome those without an appointment starting at 1 p.m. each day the clinic is open, in an effort to not waste any leftover vaccine.

Pellissippi State Community College will welcome those without appointments to its drive-thru vaccination clinic starting at 1 p.m. each day the clinic is open. 

Pellissippi State’s vaccination clinic will be held 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays on the college’s Blount County Campus, 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville. The clinic is administering the Moderna vaccine starting Friday, April 23. 

While Pellissippi State encourages you to sign up for an appointment herethose without appointments are welcome to drop by the vaccination clinic at 1 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays to receive a shot if vaccine is available. The college is committed to not letting any open vials of vaccine go to waste.  

Vaccinations are free, and you must be 18 years old to receive the Moderna vaccine. Those who register for appointments in advance only need to schedule your first dose of Moderna. Pellissippi State staff will schedule you for your second dose when you arrive for your vaccination. 

Second appointments will be set 28 days after the first vaccination is given. 

For more information about the college’s vaccination clinic, including forms Pellissippi State asks that you fill out and print in advance of your appointment, visit www.pstcc.edu/vaccine. 

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Pellissippi State to reopen vaccination clinic Friday, April 23

A young man receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Pellissippi State's Blount County Campus
A young man receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus on Friday, April 9, the first day the drive-thru vaccination clinic was open.

Pellissippi State Community College will reopen its drive-thru vaccination clinic on its Blount County Campus Friday, April 23, with the Moderna vaccine instead of Janssen/Johnson & Johnson. 

The clinic will be closed this weekend as the College prepares for the shift to a different vaccine. Those who had appointments scheduled for Friday, April 16, and Saturday, April 17, are being notified by Pellissippi State staff. 

Pellissippi State staff waited to cancel this weekend’s vaccination clinic appointments until after the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which provides guidance to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, met Wednesday afternoon to discuss data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  

The committee delayed a decision Wednesday, continuing the hold on the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine for at least 10 more days to allow further review. 

Because the Moderna vaccine requires two shots spaced four weeks apart, Pellissippi State is retooling its appointment software to allow for this changeFor more information about the College’s vaccination clinic, including a link to register when the software is updated, visit www.pstcc.edu/vaccine. 

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Pellissippi State pauses vaccination clinic while Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine on hold

Pellissippi State Community College is pausing operations at its Blount County Campus drive-thru vaccination clinic because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have recommended a hold on the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine for now. 

College staff will be contacting those who have made appointments to receive their vaccinations this Friday and Saturday. 

Pellissippi State is in contact with the Tennessee Department of Health and is awaiting further guidance as the CDC and FDA review data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. 

In the meantime, College staff is exploring alternate solutions to moving forward with operating the drive-thru vaccination clinic that opened April 9. Pellissippi State vaccinated 190 individuals on Friday and 179 on Saturday. 

Pellissippi State hosts vaccination clinic on Blount County Campus

Drivers should enter and exit Pellissippi State's Blount County Campus via South Old Grey Ridge Road for their COVID-19 vaccinations.
This map shows how those who make appointments to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at Pellissippi State Community College will enter and exit the Blount County Campus via S. Old Grey Ridge Road.

Pellissippi State Community College is excited to announce that the college’s Blount County Campus will host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for the community starting April 9. 

The clinic will be open for appointments 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays until the end of July, with the possibility of adding Tuesdays as well after spring 2021 classes end in May.  

Pellissippi State will offer the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is one dose only. There is no charge for the vaccine, but you must be 18 years old to receive this vaccine.  

Visit www.pstcc.edu/vaccine to make an appointment to receive the vaccine at Pellissippi StateTo speed up your appointment, please fill out and print the screening form in advance. Paper copies also will be available onsite 

Your total time on campus will be around 30 minutes to allow for check-in, vaccination administration and a 15-minute observation time following the shot. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible to help keep wait times to a minimum. 

Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus is located at 2731 W. Alexander Parkway, Friendsville. For more information, including a map of how the clinic will be set up in the campus’ parking lot, visit www.pstcc.edu/vaccine. 

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Pellissippi State Nursing students administer COVID-19 vaccine to frontline medical workers

Pellissippi State students Megan Boyle, Keiara Tate and Yesenia Perez, from left, meet at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center on Saturday, Dec. 19, to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to hospital workers.
Pellissippi State students Megan Boyle, Keiara Tate and Yesenia Perez, from left, volunteer at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center on Saturday, Dec. 19, to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to hospital workers.

Nursing students at Pellissippi State Community College aren’t just watching history unfold as the COVID-19 pandemic continues – they’re taking action to end it. 

Pellissippi State Nursing students started administering the first rounds of a COVID-19 vaccine to frontline workers at Covenant Health hospitals on Saturday. Within five minutes of posting the sign-up sheet Wednesday night, 50 students had volunteered. 

“I immediately let all of the College administration team know what an amazing and wonderful group of young nurses we have in our program,” Nursing Dean Angela Lunsford told students in an email Thursday. “You are part of something historic that you will tell your grandchildren about. You should be very proud! 

Pellissippi State Nursing students Megan Boyle, Yesenia Perez and Keiara Tate administered the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Saturday morning at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville while Stephanie Busby, Autumn Smith and Angela Worley administered the vaccine at LeConte Medical Center in Sevierville. 

“I knew I had to volunteer to be a part of this experience because I wanted to be part of the solution to this problem that has greatly affected not only my family, but the entire world,” said Tate, 27, a former Patient Care Technician in home health care who decided to become a Registered Nurse after her daughter was born. I have had two family members who have passed due to COVID and many others who have been ill due to this virus. I am looking forward to ushering in hope and a cure. 

A vial of COVID-19 vaccine
Pellissippi State Nursing students are administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is being administered to workers at Covenant Health hospitals.

Family experiences also influenced Perez’s decision to study Nursing. 

“Growing up, my mom was always in and out of the hospital, and I saw firsthand the way nurses took care of her – the good experiences and the bad,” said Perez, 20, who works 12 hours a week as a Student Nurse Associate at Parkwest Medical Center in addition to 30 hours a week as a manager at Taco Bell. “I want to be that person who gives back to the community – and being bilingual, I can help (Spanish speaking) people who come into the hospital because I can understand them.” 

Although Pellissippi State students were prepared to draw up the vaccine themselves, Covenant Health had pharmacists on hand at the hospitals Saturday to draw up the medication, which was then put into a cooler.  

Autumn Smith, Angela Worley, & Stephanie Busby at LeConte Medical Center
Pellissippi State Nursing students Stephanie Busby, Autumn Smith and Angela Worley, from left, volunteer to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to workers at LeConte Medical Center on Saturday, Dec. 19.

“They got six syringes (of vaccine) per vial, and we had to get every dose out of the cooler,” Perez explained. “We couldn’t have multiple doses out and lined up. They had to stay a certain temperature.” 

Nursing students injected the vaccine into the deltoid muscle – upper arm – of hospital frontline workers and other staff, including those who work in the cafeteria, housekeeping and maintenance 

“It was very intimidating at first because we were giving the injections to a lot of health care workers who have been doing this for years, and we are just Nursing students,” Perez said, noting the vaccinations moved at a fast pace and they exhausted their supply by 8:15 a.m. Saturday. “But everyone was really nice, and I am amazed we even got the opportunity to help with this historical thing.” 

“The staff at LeConte said they couldn’t thank the students enough, that it would have taken double the time without them there to help,” Lunsford added. 

Pellissippi State Nursing students will continue to help administer the vaccine at Covenant Health facilities daily until Dec. 29, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, when no vaccination clinics are scheduled. 

Pellissippi State Nursing student Yesenia Perez administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a Fort Sanders employee on Saturday, Dec. 19.
Pellissippi State Nursing student Yesenia Perez administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a Fort Sanders employee on Saturday, Dec. 19.

“The excitement for this vaccine is greater than I expected – so many frontline workers were elated and relieved to be able to get this vaccine,” Tate said. “Having to face COVID every day with just a mask and prayers has left a lot of people just feeling blessed to be here for this opportunity and to see this day. I look forward to my future career as a nurse.” 

Pellissippi State’s Nursing classes are held on the College’s Blount County, Magnolia Avenue and Strawberry Plains campuses. For more information about Pellissippi State’s Nursing program, visit www.pstcc.edu/nursing, email Nursing@pstcc.edu or call 865.225.2330 

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Pellissippi State’s spring registration starts Wednesday

Four Pellissippi State students pose on campus with masks on
Pellissippi State students have been wearing their masks, practicing social distancing and filling out daily COVID-19 screening questions before coming to campus in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus and stay #PellissippiStrong.

Registration for spring 2021 classes at Pellissippi State Community College opens Wednesday, Oct. 21. 

Spring 2021 will look like fall 2020, with most classes not taking place on campus. In the spring 2021 schedule, students should look at “instruction mode” to see how classes will be conducted: 

  • Asynchronous online: students do the work on their own time; 
  • Synchronous online: students meet with their class at a set time via a platform such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom; 
  • Hybrid: students will be expected to come to campus at some point during the semester, often for hands-on labs or proctored tests, but most work will take place virtually; and 
  • In person: students will report to campus and meet with instructors and classmates in a traditional classroom. 

Students who prefer one of these modes of instruction over others can do a search by instruction mode in the College’s Schedule Planner. 

Current Pellissippi State students are encouraged to schedule an appointment with their assigned academic advisor using the Navigate app prior to registering. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, advising is being conducted virtually and includes access through Microsoft Teams, Zoom, email and phone. 

“It is important to register early for the spring term so that you can be assured to get the classes you need to keep you on track to complete your degree,” said Leigh Anne Touzeau, assistant vice president, Enrollment Services. 

Prospective students have a unique opportunity to learn what it’s like to attend Pellissippi State later this month. The College will host its first drive-thru Pellissippi Preview 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville. Those who want to learn more about Pellissippi State’s academic programs, admissions, financial aid and student support services, all from the safety of their vehicles, are encouraged to reserve their spot at www.pstcc.edu/prsvp. 

“With five campuses and a variety of online and virtual classes, Pellissippi State remains ready to meet students where they are and help them get to where they want to go,” Touzeau said. 

Pellissippi State has staff standing by to assist prospective students with the registration process in its Virtual Walk-in Student Services platform. Prospective students with a camera-enabled computer or smartphone can access Admissions, Advising, Financial Aid, HelpDesk and other student services 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday via Zoom. Prospective students do not need an appointment, but should be aware that, just like walking into an actual waiting room, prospective students will be helped on a first-come, first-served basis.  

Prospective students also can learn more about Pellissippi State through a remote meeting, an in-person appointment or online information sessions. To learn more about these options or to sign up for one, visit www.pstcc.edu/admissions/tour. 

For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. 

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