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Knoxville Area Urban League Paradigm Challenge awards $10,000 to three winners
The Knoxville Area Urban League awarded $10,000 each to three individuals who competed in the Paradigm Challenge business pitch contest, which promotes economic growth in the East Knoxville communities of Asheville Highway, Magnolia Avenue, Cherry Street, Five Points and Burlington.
“We are committed to stimulating and supporting economic growth in our East Knoxville community,” said Phyllis Y. Nichols, president and CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League, which is located in East Knoxville. “The Paradigm Challenge was an innovative vehicle to promote economic development in this area, invest in budding entrepreneurs and support their great ideas.”
Winners of the Paradigm Challenge were selected in three categories: Joy Gaertner of Walking with Joy, health care category; Britnie Davis of Britnie’s Balloon Bonanza, retail/light manufacturing category; and Brandon Hardin of Joyce Development, LLC, technology category, for his creation of the “Command Glove.” Each winner received $10,000 to help grow their business.
Walking with Joy, a grief counseling organization, provides guidance to those dealing with death, job loss, health issues, divorce, relocation, pet loss and more. Gaertner, the founder of the organization, is a certified grief recovery specialist who has spent more than 40 years serving nationally and internationally at churches, recovery facilities and ministry groups. The individual and group life coaching at Walking with Joy offers therapy and strategic exercises to individuals and families.
Britnie’s Balloon Bonanza, founded and managed by Davis, creates custom balloon arrangements for birthday parties, graduations and corporate events. Davis plans to open a retail store, where she will sell balloon decor and pre-made arrangements. Davis also was recently awarded $5,000 from the Knoxville Area Urban League CO.STARTERS program.
Joyce Development, LLC, was founded by Knoxville-native, airline pilot and military veteran Brandon Hardin. Hardin invented the Command Glove, a lightweight glove created for runners to control a phone or other device with just a tap of their fingers. The glove features various sensors that control functions from answering a phone call to changing songs on a playlist while the device remains in a pocket or otherwise secured.
“Each participant presented inventive, inspiring and exciting new ideas,” Nichols said. “Our judges had a very tough time making a final decision with so many impressive contestants, but we are thrilled to provide the $10,000 awards to Joy, Britnie and Brandon. We can’t wait to see how their businesses grow and how it positively impacts our East Knoxville community and beyond.”
The Paradigm Challenge was supported by the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, Tennessee Small Business Development Center, Visionary Solutions, Eternal Life Harvest Center and Mark Isom and community volunteers. Monetary prizes for the three winners was provided by Launch TN, David and Shawn Owens, and Randy and Jenny Boyd.
About the Knoxville Area Urban League
Since 1968, the Knoxville Area Urban League has assisted disadvantaged people attain social and economic stability and self-sufficiency through direct services and advocacy. The League works to provide a skilled and diverse workforce; to increase homeownership; to support economic and small business development, and to enhance education efforts for our youth. The Knoxville Area Urban League is a United Way partner agency and affiliate of the National Urban League. The League’s work and results are evident in the lives of the over 8,000 people it impacts each year. For more information, go to www.thekaul.org.
For more information on the Knoxville Area Urban League and its programs, call 865-524-5511 or visit http://www.thekaul.org.