Tech Town

Tearsa Smith sees a renaissance in Knoxville

Charming and quaint with a population estimated at approximately 182,000, Knoxville, Tennessee, is noted for its contributions to country music and the 1982 World’s Fair. Among its acclaimed locals are poet Nikki Giovanni and William Henry Hastie, the first African American federal magistrate judge and governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

But today Knoxville is being recognized for its commercial growth. Tearsa Smith, a news anchor for ABC affiliate WATE–TV 6 News, points to the new convention center, Turkey Creek shopping center, and the $25 million restoration of the Tennessee Theatre as indicators of Knoxville’s development. A $2.5 million business incubator center under construction at the University of Tennessee is one of three high-tech support projects that will reinforce Knoxville’s reputation as Innovation Valley. And the city is becoming a burgeoning media hub with several production companies that support cable TV producer Scripps Networks, which is headquartered there. The world’s largest motion picture exhibitor, Regal Entertainment Group, and processed foods producer Bush Brothers & Co. are also based in this modern Appalachian city. And ExpansionManagement.com has Knoxville on its 2007 list of 50 Hottest Cities for Expanding Companies.

According to 30-year-old Smith, the nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory attracts computer science professionals, researchers, and engineers to the metro area, but registered nurses, elementary school teachers, and auditors outnumber other professions in the city.

There are also recreational attractions: The Knoxville 100/Casey C. Jones Golf Tournament hosted by 100 Black Men of Greater Knoxville “is a great time for golf lovers to visit or plan a business trip. The Knoxville Opera Rossini Festival [has] “an Italian wine tasting hour; it is one of my favorite events that showcases the city’s love of the arts.” Other popular events include the Dogwood Arts and Kuumba Festivals and the Women Today Expo. Visit www.knoxville .org for a full lineup.

Around Town : Knoxville, Tennessee
ACCOMMODATIONS
Built in 1799, the Maple Grove Inn (8800 Westland Drive, 800-645-0713, www.maplegroveinn.com) is a Georgian-style house where each of its seven suites is uniquely styled. “My favorite room is the Maple Suite,” shares Smith. “Rooms are spacious and don’t feel [like] commercial hotels.” En suite bathrooms feature luxurious marble and a Jacuzzi tub for long soaks.

Four Points by Sheraton Knoxville Cumberland House Hotel (1109 White Ave., 865-971-4663) is centrally located in the Fort Sanders Historic District and steps from the Knoxville Convention Center and the University of Tennessee. It has the contemporary décor and polish of a swank boutique hotel.

RESTAURANTS
At The Orangery Restaurant (5412 Kingston Pike, 865-588-2964, www.the organeryrestaurant.com), casual elegance is the preferred dress code. This formal dining experience is based on “classic French cuisine served in courses.” Dinner for two can run you $150.

It’s tradition at Pasta Trio (119 South Central St., 865-540-3970) to bring a bottle of wine for your dinner, sign it, and leave the empty bottle for the unusual decorative collection that adorns this relaxed eatery. Entrées like the Cajun pasta, which Smith says “is extremely spicy,” are priced mid-range at $20.

Baker Peters Jazz Club (9000 Kingston Pike, 865-690-8110, www.baker

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