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Hospitality and Leisure

Meeting planners and families alike turn to East Tennessee for leisure and business travel.  Tourism is a top contributor to the state’s economy, and the Knoxville-Oak Ridge region is the leader.  Home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Dollywood, Gatlinburg, and hundreds of tourist destinations throughout the region, this business sector has much to offer new businesses. 

Advantages include a workforce that tops 57,000, bolstered by bachelor’s degrees from the University of Tennessee in restaurant and food service management and/or hotel and tourism management, and three community colleges offering associate’s degrees in hotel and restaurant management and culinary arts.

  • Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited national park in the country 
    • 10 million visitors
  • Dollywood, Tennessee’s #1 ticketed attraction
  • Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community of Gatlinburg is the largest group of independent artisans in North America
  • 7 TVA Lakes
  • Convention Centers – Knoxville & Sevierville


  • Professional Baseball
  • Professional Ice Hockey
  • University of Tennessee collegiate sports (include some their rankings)

Business Climate  
Pro-business environment - Favorable business tax climate consistently in the top 1/3 of U.S. states

  • Attractive state, local, and utility incentives for new job creation and capital investment
  • State taxes ranking among the nation's lowest 
    • No state property tax 
    • Competitive corporate taxes 
    • Available targeted jobs tax credit
  • Competitive gas, water, and sewer rates   
    • Electricity generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority at rates 13% below the U.S. industrial average 
    • Electricity reliability at 99.999% since 2000
  • Available Buildings and Sites
    • Building costs 19% below the national average (RSMeans Construction Index 2015)
    • Competitive lease rates
  • Right-to-work state


  • Flexible, growing workforce of 550,000 in 15-county region
  • Workforce of 780,000 in 32 laborshed counties
  • A large and growing student population from the University of Tennessee along with 12 other 4 and 2 year colleges in the region
  • Degrees at Walter State, University of Tennessee and Pellissippi State Technical Community College
  • 67,000 college and university students
  • An underemployed adult workforce in technical and professional positions  
  • Competitive workers compensation rates
  • Customized workforce training
  • Transferable skill sets
  • Available part and full-time workers


  • Major regional airport with more than 125 flights daily to 20 major U.S. destinations
  • Located at the juncture of three major interstates I-40, I-75 and I-81
  • 70% of the US market within a day's drive
  • Robust telecommunications infrastructure


  • Home of the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Technology Corridor
  • State-of-the-art telecommunications capabilities comparable to the Silicon Valley and Research Triangle
  • Advanced communications infrastructure that supports the Oak Ridge National Laboratory available to companies

Dollywood located in East Tennessee

Gatlinburg Tennessee

East Tennessee vacation

East Tennessee Turkey Creek shopping

Gatlinburg Aquarium located in East Tennessee

Ruby Tuesday located in East Tennessee

Titanic Museum located in East Tennessee