First Tennessee donates $5,000 in TSBDC support to Pellissippi State Foundation

Pam Fansler with First Tennessee Bank presents a check for $5,000 to the Pellissippi State Foundation for the support of Knoxville’s TSBDC. TSBDC and Pellissippi State Community College staff were on hand to receive the donation.

(L-R) Mercedes Campbell, TSBDC Internet Training Specialist; Jane Shelton, TSBDC Administrative Assistant; Bruce Hayes, TSBDC Sr. Business Specialist; Pam Fansler, First Tennessee, East Market President; Larry Rossini, TSBDC Director; Marilyn Cobble, TSBDC Sr. Business Specialist; Julia Wood, PSCC Marketing and Communications Director; and Rob Karpick, TSBDC Sr. Business Specialist.

First Tennessee Bank’s recent gift of $5,000 to the Pellissippi State Foundation in support of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center will help a lot of people get the free training they need to start a business or improve one they are already running. TSBDC is administered by Pellissippi State Community College,

The mission of the TSBDC, located on Market Square, is to provide free counseling and training for those interested in starting or improving a small business, whether it’s brick-and-mortar or strictly online.

The donations received by the Pellissippi State Foundation from the First Tennessee Foundation have been key to TSBDC’s success, says Peggy Wilson, executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation and vice president of College Advancement.

“We appreciate First Tennessee’s long-term generosity,” she said. “First Tennessee exemplifies the ideal of a business giving back to the community. The bank’s leadership recognizes the impact that educational opportunities have for the entire family, not just for the student who earns a scholarship.”

According to Larry Rossini, director of the Knoxville TSBDC, the gift is earmarked for purchasing computer supplies, equipment and software for the resource center.

By taking advantage of the resource center and free counseling, Deborah Sellers, chief operating officer of InBalance Hormone Replacement Center on Chapman Highway, created a new business plan, organizational chart and job descriptions for her two-year-old business.

“Our gross receipts increased by 37 percent within one month,” she said.

Sellers’ relationship with the organization began when she read an article in the local Chamber of Commerce magazine that described the TSBDC’s business assessment program. During her first visit to TSBDC, she completed a comprehensive business assessment on computer.

“Immediately after the assessment, I made an appointment with Rob Karpick, senior business specialist at the TSBDC, and I met with him the very next week,” Sellers said.

“After that first meeting we were able to determine that a couple of the business’ issues were job responsibility and personnel. By making changes, we were able to improve customer service and the way the public sees us. Now we’re starting to work on the efficiency of the office. We’ve seen huge changes, and we’re only into week three.”

The donations from First Tennessee literally puts materials like the “How to Write a Business Plan in 30 Minutes” template in the hands of people like Sellers.

“Without these generous funds from First Tennessee Bank, we could not provide the quality service we offer to the small-business community,” said Rossini.

The Knoxville TSBDC serves 16 counties in East Tennessee. The TSBDC counseled 839 people and helped launch 56 new businesses in 2010.

Class available for free to the public cover such topics as e-commerce, marketing, preparing financial statements for small business, starting and managing a small business, and writing a business plan.

For information about the TSBDC, call (865) 246-2663 or visit To make a donation to the Pellissippi State Foundation, visit or call (865) 694-6529.