Profile: Knoxville, Tennessee

By: Karin Beuerlein

Population: 182,337

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6 to 7

Major Airport: McGhee Tyson Airport

Companies With a Major Presence Here: Scripps Networks, Tennessee Valley Authority, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Alcoa, Regal Entertainment Group, Sea Ray Boats, Clayton Homes, Pilot Corp., Ruby Tuesday, DeRoyal Industries

Home of the University of Tennessee’s main campus, Knoxville is a medium-sized city with close proximity to the Cumberland Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains. Its early history centered around railroad transportation and the city’s natural stores of coal and marble, earning it the moniker “Marble City.”

But the aftermath of the Great Depression and World War II brought many profound changes, including the arrival of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Affordable electricity provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority revolutionized the region. Nearby, Oak Ridge National Laboratory was established to support the war effort. Suddenly, sleepy little Knoxville was on the map.

Its transition to a modern, inclusive city hasn’t been smooth -- the political scene here is as bumpy as the construction on ever-expanding Interstate 40. But a reputation for favorable business conditions, low cost of living (partly because there’s no state income tax), and access to some of the most beautiful scenery in the Southeast continue to attract new residents.   

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