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The research drew from subjective and objective sources.

The subjective input consisted of the following:

  • One-on-one interviews with a diverse set of 132 Greater Knoxville (Innovation Valley) leaders.      
  • A two-month social media campaign (Envision Knoxville) to get input from Knoxvillians between the ages of 18 and 42, resulting in:   
    • 169 completed questionnaires 
    • 80 video interviews 
    • Face-to-face input from 64 people through in-person interviews and brainstorming sessions. 
  • A targeted survey of Leadership Knoxville members and alumni, and common themes developed in the six public-input meetings of the comprehensive regional planning effort known as Plan ET.       

The objective input consisted of a two-phase literature review. The purpose of the first phase was to:

  • Determine the factors that distinguish great places to build careers and raise families; and
  • Evaluate Knoxville against each of these factors to determine local strengths and challenges.        

The analytic framework used in this first phase of the literature review is called structured analogies. This approach offers an objective method for comparing analogous situations or case studies. By arraying several case study cities against factors that may affect whether a city is a great place to build a career or raise a family, and then determining whether each factor was present in each city, one can quickly detect patterns and determine which factors are critical to a city’s outcomes. This project uses two analytic frameworks—one for great places to build a career and the second for great places to raise a family.

The second-phase literature review was a search for outcome-based best practices from around the world that address the areas of priority emerging from the subjective input. This phase also included a national search involving both literature review and phone interviews to find organizational models responding to the need for better alignment of resources.

·         One-on-one interviews with a diverse set of 132 Greater Knoxville (Innovation Valley) leaders.