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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National report highlights Knoxville gluten-free bakery assisted by Tennessee Small Business Development Center

Lynette Casazza started a gluten free bakery from her home kitchen in 2015, after two of her children were diagnosed with a health condition requiring a gluten free diet.
Lynette Casazza of Mama C’s Gluten Free Goodies started a gluten-free bakery from her home kitchen in 2015, after two of her children were diagnosed with a health condition requiring a gluten-free diet. She now has a storefront in South Knoxville.

Mama C’s Gluten Free Goodies, a client of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center that is hosted by Pellissippi State, is highlighted in a new national report launched last week. 

“In these challenging times, America’s Small Business Development Centers play a critical role in assuring the health of small businesses: helping them access capital needed for growth, navigating the uncertainty of the market, providing advice on compliance with government regulations, and being first responders when natural disaster requires intensive and long-term consulting,” according to a press release announcing the new national report. 

Mama C’s is included as an example of a SBDC client that is helping an underserved community. You can find Mama C’s highlighted in the Tennessee section of the report. 

Lynette Casazza started a gluten-free bakery from her home kitchen in 2015, after two of her children were diagnosed with a health condition requiring a gluten-free diet. She began baking and selling her gluten-free goodies — including dairy-free and nut-free items — at local farmers’ markets and expanded to a storefront in South Knoxville in 2019. 

“Lynette has been a client of the center since the start of the bakery,” explained TSBDC Director Laura Overstreet. “TSBDC staff provided start-up assistance and continued to assist Lynnette, resulting in the expansion of Mama C’s to a storefront location. With this expansion, Lynette needed help navigating the process of hiring new employees and setting up payroll in Quickbooks.” 

TSBDC was able to provide that assistance. Casazza is now successfully processing payroll through QuickBooks and handling her own bookkeeping, and her bakery added four jobs as a result of the expansion. 

“It has been wonderful working with the TSBDC and (Senior Business Specialist) Teresa Sylvia,” Casazza said. “She has played a vital role in helping me put together a business plan and executing it to make my dreams come true. When situations have arrived that I’ve needed help with, the TSBDC have always been there to help me through it. Thanks to TSBDC Mama C’s Gluten Free Goodies has met a great need in South Knoxville.” 

TSBDC provides services at no cost for small business owners and potential entrepreneurs. The Knoxville office offers workshops and private consultations ranging from business plan development, government contracting, marketing assistance and financial planning for new and existing small businesses. 

Even as the pandemic engulfed East Tennessee, the TSBDC served 984 unique clients in 2020, delivering 1,134 hours of counseling and providing training to 1,147 participants. TSBDC also assisted clients in securing over $11 million in disaster loans. 

“TSBDC is a powerful resource for our local small businesses to grow and thrive, all at no cost,” said Teri Brahams, Pellissippi State’s executive director, Economic and Workforce Development. 

For more information on the TSBDC, visit www.tsbdc.org/pscc/.  For more information on Mama C’s, visit www.mamacsglutenfree.com

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Entrepreneurs can pitch to celebrity investor May 2 at Pellissippi State

Marc Portney
Celebrity investor Marc Portney will be sharing his expertise on entrepreneurship and hearing local pitches at Pellissippi State on May 2. Photo credit: http://marcportney.com/

Celebrity investor Marc Portney will be at Pellissippi State Community College on May 2, sharing his insights on entrepreneurship and ready to hear pitches from those who would like a chance to make a deal with him.

“Pitch Marc Portney” will be held 5:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2, in the Goins Building Auditorium on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The event is sponsored by Globalsource Infrastructure Partners, Tennessee Inventors Association and the Tennessee Small Business Development Center, which is hosted in Knoxville by Pellissippi State.

Those planning to attend, whether or not they are planning to pitch, should complete a brief registration form here.

Portney is an American entrepreneur, investor and business adviser who has appeared on the television series “All-American Makers” on the Science Channel and “American Dreams” on the Home Shopping Network.

“Last year Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. joined over 300 community college presidents from across the country in taking the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship pledge,” said Bruce Hayes, director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center. “The Tennessee Small Business Development Center, a division of Pellissippi State Community College, is committed to the advancement of entrepreneurship in our community. We are very fortunate to have developed a relationship with Marc Portney from the Science Channel.”

Portney will begin by taking audience questions, after which select entrepreneurs will have up to 5 minutes to pitch their ideas to Portney. Event organizers stress that this is not a shark-tank situation; there is no need to discuss capital, as Portney can offer more than capital due to his expertise in manufacturing, sales and marketing.

The event will end with a relaxed night of networking with Portney and other attendees, which helps entrepreneurs make connections that can lead to partnerships and increased business.

For more information about “Pitch Marc Portney,” including the evening’s itinerary and questions about what to expect if you are pitching an idea, visit https://www.globalsourceip.com/events/pitch-marc-portney-knoxville-tn-may-2-2019.

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Pellissippi State pledges to expand entrepreneurship and economic growth

Group of males holding a signed entrepreneurship document
(L-R) Terrance Carter, Knoxville Area Urban League; Jim Biggs, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center; Anthony Wise, Pellissippi State; Cliff Claudill, Greater Score of Knoxville; Bruce Hayes, TSBDC; and Doug Minter, Knoxville Chamber, celebrate signing the entrepreneurship pledge.

 

Pellissippi State Community College has joined community colleges across the country this week in signing a formal pledge to increase its focus on entrepreneurship and its economic impact on the community.

The National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship spearheaded the nationwide pledge. NACCE is an organization of educators, entrepreneurs and business development professionals focused on promoting entrepreneurship through community colleges.

Among other things, Pellissippi State pledges to create internal and external teams dedicated to entrepreneurship and to increase entrepreneurs’ engagement with the college.

Pellissippi State supports entrepreneurship, in part, through the efforts of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center, an affiliation of the college. They collaborate to offer training opportunities and workforce development in Blount, Claiborne, Cocke, Jefferson, Knox, Sevier and Union counties.

“Our college has always been entrepreneurial in spirit, in our support for the growth of the local economy and workforce, and also in our work with students,” said L. Anthony Wise Jr., president of Pellissippi State. “Our partnership with NACCE reaffirms that commitment to develop the people, the businesses and the resources of our region.”

In 2017, Pellissippi State’s TSBDC served 364 clients, helped 33 new businesses start up, created 111 new jobs and retained 233 jobs. The firms that TSBDC aided went on to create more than $47.8 million in new capital investment into the local economy.

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

TSBDC names Blue Slip Winery as its 2017 ‘Rising Star’

Tennessee Small Business Development Center Knoxville Director Bruce Hayes, left, with Blue Slip Winery owner Linn Slocum, center, and Pellissippi State Community College President L. Anthony Wise Jr.

The Knoxville office of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center has named Blue Slip Winery as its 2017 Rising Star winner.

The Rising Star award is the highest honor TSBDC has to recognize growing small businesses in the Knoxville area. The award honors business owners who have achieved sustainability and success and who contribute to the growth and development of Tennessee’s economy.

“The Blue Slip Winery has come so far from its beginnings as a hobby for Linn Slocum,” said Bruce Hayes, director of Knoxville TSBDC. “Originally housed in only a small basement in the Old City, Blue Slip Winery expanded to become Knoxville’s first urban winery in 2014.”

“The restoration of an iconic landmark in the Southern Railway Station, mixed with Blue Slip Winery’s advancements in the wine industry has created a commodity for historic downtown Knoxville that locals and visitors can enjoy and watch grow,” Hayes said. “In recognition of her achievements and of the passion that allowed her to pursue her dreams, we’re honored to name Linn and the Blue Slip Winery as winner of the Rising Star Award.”

Pellissippi State’s Small Business Development Center serves Blount, Claiborne, Cocke, Jefferson, Knox, Sevier and Union counties. In 2016, it served 454 clients for a total of 1673 counseling hours. The TSBDC helped 28 new businesses start up, create 107 new jobs and retain 183 jobs. The firms TSBDC aided went on to create more than $11 million in new capital investment into the local economy.

The Small Business Development Center is affiliated with Pellissippi State and partners with the College on training opportunities and workforce development. TSBDC is a network of professional business consultants with 13 centers throughout Tennessee. For more information, visit www.tsbdc.org.

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

TSBDC names Bruce Hayes as new executive director

Bruce Hayes, new executive director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville
Bruce Hayes, new executive director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville

Knoxville’s Tennessee Small Business Development Center, an affiliate of Pellissippi State Community College, has named Bruce Hayes as its new executive director.

Hayes has worked for the TSBDC for nine years as a small business counselor. He steps into his new position following the retirement earlier this year of former executive director Larry Rossini.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunities of this new position,” said Hayes, who before coming to work at TSBDC was a custom homebuilder. “I’m planning to build on the work TSBDC has been doing for years now, and add a new focus on small businesses that are already up and operating.”

Hayes has worked with numerous startup businesses like The Flower Pot and Blue Slip Winery through his work at TSBDC.

“Our mission is to encourage economic growth in Tennessee. It’s those small businesses that contribute to the economic development of the state because it’s those business owners who are hiring people and expanding,” Hayes said.

“However, current small-business owners are focused on running their business. They don’t necessarily know who to go to if they need help. We want to expand the direction of TSBDC so that we can ensure existing small business owners know we have the resources to help them. We’re not just here for startups.”

Pellissippi State’s Small Business Development Center serves Blount, Claiborne, Cocke, Jefferson, Knox, Sevier and Union counties. In 2015, it served 466 clients for a total of 2,135 counseling hours. The TSBDC helped 30 new businesses start up, create 183 new jobs and retain 1,280 jobs. The firms TSBDC aided went on to create more than $11 million in new capital investment into the local economy.

The Small Business Development Center is affiliated with Pellissippi State and partners with the college on training opportunities and workforce development.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s Small Business Development Center, visit www.tsbdc.org or call 865-246-2663. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

 

Download this press release: TSBDC Hayes New Director

TSBDC earns Eagle Award for small business loans

TSBDC director Larry Rossini, left, with Walter N Perry of the U.S. Small Business Association and L. Anthony Wise Jr., president of Pellissippi State Community College.
TSBDC director Larry Rossini, left, with Walter N. Perry of the U.S. Small Business Administration and L. Anthony Wise Jr., president of Pellissippi State Community College.

Knoxville’s Tennessee Small Business Development Center and Pellissippi State Community College have been recognized for their excellence in facilitating working capital loans to small businesses.

The TSBDC and Pellissippi State recently received the Eagle Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Tennessee District, in recognition of the TSBDC having the highest number of clients assisted with small business loans among all 14 regions within the TSBDC network. The Eagle Award launched in 2013; Pellissippi State’s TSBDC has won the award two of the past three years.

In 2015, TSBDC Knoxville directly assisted seven clients who obtained a cumulative total of more than $4 million in Small Business Administration loans. As reported by the small businesses receiving funding, a cumulative total of 13 jobs were created and 32 jobs retained as a result of the firms receiving SBA loans to finance their capital needs. Four businesses were started with the loans.

“Pellissippi State’s leadership is evident to identify sources of capital for small business owners” said Walter Perry, District Director of SBA’s Tennessee District Office. “And it is through their relationships with East Tennessee lenders that dollars are available to start or expand a small business.” 

 “Pellissippi State’s Small Business Development Center has always been committed to helping businesses in our community find the resources they need in order to be successful” said L. Anthony Wise Jr., president of Pellissippi State Community College. “This recognition by the Small Business Administration is an affirmation of that good work.”

The SBA guarantees small business loans and through a cooperative agreement with Pellissippi State and the TSBDC, provides counseling and training to small business owners. A key component of this assistance is helping small business owners acquire capital through SBA-guaranteed loans made by area lenders. 

 A number of small businesses benefited from this funding, including a veterinarian, winery, restaurant, retail store, transportation services firm, research and development firm and a temporary services agency. Participating East Tennessee lenders assisting Pellissippi State clients included Commercial Bank, Pathway Lending, Peoples Bank, Renaissance Bank and UT Federal Credit Union.

Pellissippi State’s Small Business Development Center serves Blount, Claiborne, Cocke, Jefferson, Knox, Sevier and Union counties.  In 2015, it served 466 clients for a total of 2,135 counseling hours. The TSBDC helped 30 new businesses start up, create 183 new jobs and retain 1,280 jobs. The firms TSBDC aided went on to create more than $11 million in new capital investment into the local economy.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s Small Business Development Center, visit www.tsbdc.org or call 865-246-2663. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

 

Download this press release: TSBDC Eagle Award 2016