It is tempting to think of tourism as the main industry of Blount County because millions of travelers pass through annually due, in part, to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its popular roads and trails. Yet, there are many other industries to know about, as they bring tremendous value to the community on top of tourism dollars.
Key industries are not necessarily the largest employers, however. Over the past few years, the biggest or top employers in the county have included Denso Manufacturing in Maryville, Clayton Homes in Maryville, Blount Memorial Hospital, the county schools, McGhee Tyson ANG Base, Arconic in Alcoa, TeamHealth also in Alcoa, Ruby Tuesday Restaurants, and others.
This list represents figures in such industry sectors and headings as government, service, manufacturing, medicine, retail, finance, and more. Yet, this does not mean that the key industries in the county are also under those same headings.
Major Industry Headings
In addition to tourism (which is a huge industry and earner in Eastern Tennessee), the major industrial areas of benefit to Blount County include:
- Manufacturing – This includes automotive, communications equipment, aluminum production, home appliances, medical devices and even pre-fab homes.
- Corporate Services – From accounting and finances to telecommunications and headquartering, this segment is key to industry in the county.
- Technology – As part of an innovation corridor, the county emphasizes everything from alternative fuels and bio-hazard detection to environmental tech and more.
To understand how these industries add value to the community, let’s look at one that falls under the heading of a top employer and a leading industry (manufacturing) – Denso. Noted as a “leading supplier of advanced automotive technology, systems and components for all the world’s major automakers,” it operates in 32 countries and employs more than 106,000. In Blount County alone, it employs roughly 3,500 people or 3% of the population!
Organizations like Denso add value to communities by bringing jobs to citizens, which adds stability, wealth and economic growth throughout the region. Many companies also “give back” to their local communities through corporate responsibility initiatives, including donating to local charities and causes and encouraging (or even requiring!) employees to volunteer to improve their communities.
With so many large-scale operators within the county, it is important to recognize their role in the ongoing growth and stability of the region. With one of the nation’s lowest rates of employment and most affordable costs of living, Blount County owes a lot to tourism, but to its many other key industries, too.