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Chamber Releases County Contract Reimbursements
By: 
Anthony Welsch
Date: 
Monday, July 9, 2012

The Knoxville Chamber released grant and contract reimbursement forms Monday afternoon detailing where public money pertaining to the county’s memorandum of understanding was spent over the past fiscal year. The Chamber’s move comes as a result of questions from commissioners asking if public funding has been used to pay for the Chamber’s public advocacy efforts. It shows no public dollars were used as part of the Chamber's advocacy efforts related to hillside/ridgetop development or Knox County's school budget debate.

At a meeting of Knox County Commissioners June 25, one commissioner asked where the money for various campaigns the Chamber has been engaged with came from, and questioned if public money was used for what were described as “political campaigns”. At the conclusion of that meeting, the Chamber was told to expect a letter asking for specific information. As of the morning of July 9, the Chamber had not yet received any formal request for information.

“Any perception that we’re sandbagging is incorrect. In some ways, we’re releasing this information as a clairvoyant act. We’re more than willing to show where public dollars are being used,” President and CEO of the Knoxville Chamber Mike Edwards said.

Click here to see the Chamber's FY 12 grant/contract reimbursement form filed with Knox County. The form includes information for the first, second, and third quarters of the year.

Click here to see Innovation Valley's FY 12 grant/contract reimbursement form filed with Knox County. The form includes information for the first, second, and third quarters of the year.

The Knoxville Chamber and Innovation Valley operate under MOUs. These MOUs call for specific economic development services to be rendered to Knox County for a stated price: that includes resources to help small businesses grow, helping businesses connect with services, and detailed demographic information.

“We’re happy to show how we’re working with the city and county to drive regional economic prosperity,” Edwards said. “We’ve been held accountable by the city and county to operate under contractual agreements and we’ll continue to work with our elected officials to help keep Knox County residents working.”

Innovation Valley’s relationship with Knox County operates under a separate MOU that focuses on five programming areas that include global marketing, business retention and expansion, and technology and entrepreneurship. Each quarter, elected officials receive a detailed report of what actions and activities Innovation Valley engaged in pertaining to the services outlined in the MOU. Several examples of that quarterly report are on file with Knox County.

Additional details about MOU expenses are available; including detailed invoices for charges incurred over the past fiscal year and are available to Knox County Commissioners or other officials upon request. At right, you see one of the magazine advertisements paid for. The spot appeared in the April 2012 edition of Area Development, a site and facility planning magazine.

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