Knoxville has fully recovered from the recession, according to a study out Friday.
The Brookings Institute, a non-profit research group, reported Knoxville is one of only three cities in United States to be recession free. Dallas and Pittsburgh also made the cut.
The study compared economic output and employment growth numbers to compile the list of 300 metropolitan areas.
"We are excited... they say we have recovered from the recession. I say we are well on our way to recovery," said Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero.
The most obvious example of recovery are the businesses popping up around Knoxville. 10News has reported at least 21 businesses opening in the past five months including Costco, Trader Joe's, and Tupelo Honey.
"This is a sign that the retail market recognizes that our economy is strengthening," said Rogero.
Mayor Rogero said the development is just one aspect of the recovery. She credits the diversified economy and city investments for Knoxville's endurance during the recession.
Knoxville's large healthcare service industry, the University of Tennessee, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory help to create that diversity, she said. ORNL helps to differentiate the region from other areas of the country.
ORNL director, Thom Mason, also serves as economic development partnership Innovation Valley's chairman. The group works to recruit and maintain high paying jobs to the area.
"We have some strengths in innovation, drawing on the research and development done at ORNL and the university," Mason said. "We have a particular focus on Science, Engineering, Math and Technology that helps get the workforce ready for those jobs."
Mason believes it is the innovation jobs that help to bring in new development.
No one is denying that Knoxville wasn't affected by the recession. Developer Tony Cappiello said his businesses suffered for two years. But the past two months, he's watched clients return.
"Within the last 19 months to two years I'm pretty much back to full capacity," he said.
Cappiello recently opened a restaurant and bar in the Sunsphere, Icon Ultra Lounge, and has national retailer, Anthropoligie, in the works.
"We wouldn't have opened it five years ago, maybe not two yeras ago. People are discovering Knoxville," Cappiello said.
While things are looking up, Mayor Rogero said, there's always room for improvement.
"There's still people who need jobs, there's still people who face foreclosure," she said.