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CareerFest Made A Big Impact!

The Highlands Economic Partnership hosted their inaugural CareerFest on November 17, 2022, at the Leslie Town Centre. This event had the objective of filling as many open positions as possible and supporting local startup ventures.

CareerFest was made possible by receiving the Three Star Grant from the State of Tennessee as well as our community partners: Tennessee Valley Authority, VFairs, and the Biz Foundry. “The Biz Foundry is thrilled to have partnered with the Highlands on our first Annual StartHere Pitch contest. The quality of the startups was phenomenal, proving that you can indeed Start Here.” said Jeff Brown, President of the Biz Foundry.

The goal of this event was to engage workforce talent from across the United States by leveraging technology to provide a fully immersive hiring interaction for the employers and employees - both in-person and virtually. Additionally, our partners at the Biz Foundry created a platform for start-up ventures to pitch their ideas for a cash prize and a future opportunity at further financial development opportunities.

Amy New, President and CEO of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, noted, “We are eager to support our industry partners by facilitating opportunities like CareerFest for our businesses to interact with talent from across the United States. We are looking forward to building on this program for many years to come.”

In one day, CareerFest had 748 job-seeking individuals that participated in this event. In this group, 351 were soon-to-be graduates from our local high schools that have been identified as work-ready graduates. These students were identified through seven high schools across all four counties (Monterey, Cookeville, Upperman, Jackson Co., White Co., Livingston Academy and White Plains). There were 237 job interviews scheduled on the day of with 51 employers that participated in the event in-person and/or virtually. Additionally, at the Start Here Pitch Competition, there were nine start up concepts that were submitted to participate in the competition. The winner received a $10,000 first place prize.

Vice President of the Highlands Economic Partnership, Adam Poe, commented, "The Highlands Economic Partnership provides opportunities for businesses to grow and prosper. Connecting our employers to a talented workforce is imperative to our ability to scale regionally. We could not be more excited about the results of our first event and are looking forward to the event next year."

A big thank you to our companies that participated in this event:

- Express Employment Pros




- Averitt

- The Biz Foundry

- Tennessee Valley Authority

- vFairs

- Morrison Industries

- Twin Lakes

- Franklin Fixtures

- Aphena Pharma

- Academy Sports & Outdoors

- Flowserve

- Flexial

- Portobello

- Perdue

- Genisis Career College

- American Job Center

- Tennessee Tech University

- Bush & Associates

- Cookeville Fire Department

- Cookeville Police Department

- Highlands Training Center

- Livingston Regional

- Cookeville Regional Medical Center

- HomeCaregivers of TN

- Kindred Health

- Occupational Health

- Pacesetters

- J. Cumby Construction

- Metro Industrial

- Ford Lincoln of Cookeville

- Sams Club

- The Real Estate Collective


- Happy Hiller

- First National Bank of TN

- F&M Bank

- Jackson Co. Chamber of Commerce

- Putnam Co. Chamber of Commerce

- Cookeville Visitors Bureau

- J&S Construction

- Bainbridge

Here is a photo recap:

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