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Looking Back on 2020

For many who call Knoxville home, 2020 was a tough year.  It was a year of challenge and uncertainty, of illness, economic hardship, and strong emotions.
However, 2020 was also a year of resilience. The Knoxville community has navigated this tumultuous year together, coming to together to lift each other up, even while staying apart. Together, we are strong.
Over the last year, City of Knoxville staff and many local partners kept their focus on serving our community. Each day -- whether we’re improving infrastructure, providing high quality police, fire, and public services, or launching new programs to respond to emerging needs  -- the City of Knoxville invests in people. 

Our city thrives when our people thrive.  


Value - safety Public Safety is a critical and primary function of City government. People deserve to be and feel safe in Knoxville. Knoxville is fortunate to have collaborative and forward-thinking leadership in our Police and Fire Departments, as well as at many other local public safety partners. Over the last year, however, tragic events in other cities underscored the importance of continual innovation and improvement. We continue to ask “How can we be better?” while also taking several major steps forward:

• Deploying body-worn cameras for all KPD patrol officers

• Revising KPD Code of Conduct & Use of Force Policies to align with “8 Can’t Wait” principles

• Launching Co-Response Team Pilot that pairs a behavioral health specialist alongside a KPD officer

• Deployed state-of-the-art quint to enhance fire protection

Value - neighborhoodsIn 2020, we focused on Healthy & Connected Communities to help make sure Knoxville is a great place to live – no matter your neighborhood --- no matter your income. We work to create a sense of place within our community, as well as to support diverse and affordable housing options and projects that bring new energy and life into neighborhoods. In 2020 the City:

• Invested $7.5 Million to support affordable housing

• Made improvements at a number of parks across our City: Cal Johnson, Harriett Tubman, Danny Mayfield, Paul Hogue, and more

• Repaved 37.5 miles of roads

• Completed multiple traffic calming upgrades to keep neighborhoods safe

• Launched new tools to improve how residents can request City services --- a Chat Bot and a new 311 online tool (currently in development).

Value - sustainabilityWe've kept our focus on securing a Clean and Resilient Future. The City seeks to lead by example in reducing carbon emissions and providing services and infrastructure that are clean, resilient and reduce Knoxville’s environmental impacts. We’re committed to advancing our goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030 for City operations, and 80% by 2050 for the Knoxville community as a whole.

• Launched Mayor's Climate Council to chart a path toward achieving our Sustainability Goals

• Moving forward on Urban Wilderness Plan -- securing 119 acres of land along James White Parkway and launching exciting new amenities at Baker Creek

• Leveraged stormwater improvements lower flood insurance premiums

• Established a Tree Mitigation Bank

Value - businessesA healthy economy supports a healthy community, and vice versa. Amidst the turmoil of the pandemic, it remains critical to support thriving businesses and good jobs. Through partnerships that advance education and workforce development, we not only connect families with opportunities to thrive, we also help make sure Knoxville remains a great place to work, to invest, to visit, and to raise a family. In 2020, the City:

• Provided support to eKnox to help ensure each K-12 student has access to internet

• Increased the amount of City expenditures with Diversity Business Enterprises (DBEs), and set a new record for the percentage of City business conducted with minority-owned businesses

• Launched new temporary outdoor seating permit to support local restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic

• Reestablished a Human Resources Department

• Broke ground on Interstate 275 Business Park Access Improvements to encourage new business investment and create jobs

Covid-19 responseAmidst these unprecedented times,  across our community, leaders have risen to the challenges in front of them --- and the City is no exception. Despite the pandemic, the City of Knoxville was able to keep services intact, avoid furloughs and layoffs, and keep our doors open to serve our residents and local businesses.

Since March 2020, the City of Knoxville has invested almost $5.7 million to support local residents as they navigate the health, economic, and social challenges of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Through a combination of local, state or federal funds, the City and our partners have helped families make rent and mortgage payments, provided shelter and services to those experiencing homelessness, invested in job training, supported local non-profits, distributed healthy food, and provided internet access to local schoolchildren. 

• Learn more at COVID-19 Response Package

By the numbers The people of Knoxville, and all over the world, tackled unprecedented challenges in 2020. However, in the face of uncertainty and adversity, one thing will never change: our City’s mission to serve the people.

We have put together a snapshot of our City from this past year. Collectively they represent a continued investment of time, resources and funding to improve the quality of life for all Knoxvillians.

• Learn more in the City's By the Numbers: City Highlights from 2020 [PDF]