Upton talks diversity at PBPA

Sandra ClarkPowell

Darris Upton came to Powell Tuesday on a listening tour – not with answers but to learn about challenges faced by small business owners.


“What do you know that others could benefit from?” he asked. “And how do you share it?”

Upton was named to Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs’ senior staff in one of two new positions. His title is diversity development manager. (Jacobs hired former state Rep. Roger Kane to the second new position – education liaison.)

According to the press release when the men were hired, Kane’s job is to “take a comprehensive overview of the county’s entire education infrastructure and ensure it is providing our children with the tools necessary for success, not only in school but throughout life.”

Upton’s job is to “ensure equal economic opportunities are available to all,” the release read. He will focus on small and minority-owned businesses as well as women-owned, veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.

Upton spoke Tuesday to the Powell Business & Professional Association at Jubilee Banquet Facility. He talked of linking with the Urban League and the Knoxville Chamber. Upton is a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Navy. He previously worked in community relations for the city of Knoxville’s Office of Neighborhoods and as a case manager for the Knoxville Community Action Committee.

On the county’s website, Jacobs wrote: “Knox County government recognizes that our diversity is a unique strength that both enriches our community and benefits all our citizens. We continually strive to be a government that works for all, such as veterans, people with disabilities, and individuals from all cultures and walks of life. With an eye to the future, Knox County government is committed to setting the example by celebrating and encouraging diversity in our workforce, our business partnerships, and, most importantly, our leadership.”

Upton encouraged business people to contact him at 865-215-2005 or darris.upton@knoxcounty.org.

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