Business Briefs:

BB&T relocates main Blount office to Foothills Mall Drive
As a result of the merger of BB&T and the former Home Bank of Tennessee, BB&T has relocated its Blount County administrative offices and commercial and private banking centers to the former Home Bank headquarters at 216 Foothills Mall Drive.

Some 20 employees at this time occupy the 14,000 square-foot building, said Mike Baker, head of BB&T Blount County operations. The expanded facilities are important to the bank’s future here, he said.

"This gives BB&T a visibly larger Blount County presence," Baker said. "That reflects both the growth we have experienced here up to now and the increase we see in the future."

The combined bank is nearing $200 million in deposits, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation deposit market share report.

With the expansion from five to seven offices and to 10 ATMs, BB&T has one of the largest networks of branches in Blount County, Baker added.

"It gives our clients easier and more convenient access to everything they want to do at their bank," he said.

BB&T’s former offices were on Washington Street across from the Blount County Chamber of Commerce.

"The Washington Street office remains a key commercial and retail branch for BB&T," Baker said. "A team of experienced commercial and retail bankers continues to anchor that office."

No Home Bank branches were closed in the merger so that Home Bank clients would feel more comfortable with the changeover, Baker said.

The building on Foothills Mall Drive, now called BB&T Blount County Main, has a branch, drive-through and exterior ATM on the ground floor, with administrative BB&T main office relocates - add one and commercial banking offices occupying the second floor.

"We have the space at Blount County Main to grow our staff as we grow our business here," Baker said. "BB&T is bullish on Blount County’s future. We’ve always had an exceptional team of people making local decisions for local people, and now we have the facilities to take the next steps in BB&T’s life in Blount County."

Citigroup provides grant for environmental education
Citigroup Financial has directed a $3,000 grant through its foundation towards arts and science programs in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The money will go to Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, a residential environmental learning center located within the national park. Tremont has been providing the park with environmental education programs for nearly 40 years.

This grant from Citigroup helps Tremont to provide opportunities for students and teachers to have hands-on science and cultural arts experiences with guest performers and scientists. "The arts and science are both important vehicles for teaching kids about the Smokies," said Jeremy Lloyd, naturalist and arts programmer at Tremont. "Our ultimate goal is teaching kids the importance of conservation. We do that through connecting them to nature in a direct way and providing enriching interactions with local artists and scientists."

The funds provided by Citigroup will help defray the cost of schools wishing to host artists and scientists during their stay at Tremont. Many artists and scientists live in the Maryville or Knoxville area and are experts in their field.

"The arts, especially through song and story, can give students a strong sense of place," adds Lloyd. "Not to mention the added benefits of helping them do better in school, which multiple studies reveal the arts can do.

"When kids see live musicians, or a storyteller, or an expert who shares live predators with them, they think, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ All kinds of possibilities they never dreamed of before open up to them."

Such exposure to experts helps teachers as well, providing methodologies they can take back to their classroom at the conclusion of their trip to Tremont.

According to Ken Voorhis, executive director, "Organizations that invest an interest in environmental education is a great investment because it continues giving long after the experience."

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