(WBIR-Knoxville) It's been almost a year since the city, county, and state pledged a combined $70,000 to help South Knoxville businesses struggling due to construction on Henley Street bridge. Now, traffic along Chapman Highway is no longer being rerouted, but businesses say it is still a long road to recovery.
Several business owners banded together when they found out the bridge would reroute traffic, forming a group now called the South Knoxville Alliance.
"That kind of facilitated us really needing to come together and figure out what do we need to do now? Because we are all in big trouble here," said Rebecca Husain, with Wee Care, a children's resale shop, and chairperson of the group.
Husain said with the grant money, the group hired Ackerman P.R. to help with branding and marketing for the South Knoxville area.
"We as a group discussed what we wanted to do. We wanted to be sure we used it within the parameters it was designed, which is for marketing and promotion of our business group," said Husain.
The group created a new Facebook page and website featuring the new brand name they chose, K-Town South.
"South Knoxville has this great homey feel to it. We could say we want to be this cutting edge, contemporary feel to it but truthfully, South Knoxville is the kind of place you walk in, people look you in the eye, and say 'hey, how are you doing? Nice to have you here today.' That's what we have," said Husain.
Husain said she did not know exact dollar amount spent, but said money was allocated toward an advertorial in Metro Pulse, along with other promotional materials.
"We have brochures that we're working on. We're working on some digital promotions. We are working on banners and signage and things so we can get out and promote ourselves in different events and throughout this region," said Husain.
Allan Miller, co-owner of Disc Exchange, in the same plaza as Wee Care, said his store has been advertising with Metro Pulse for years, but the change in format may be helping South Knoxville businesses bounce back.
"We were one of the first three companies to advertise in Metro Pulse," said Miller. "Because it was a bigger spread, maybe it attracted more attention to us, instead of just having an ad here or there."
Miller said several businesses closed during Henley Street bridge construction.
"It was a slow decline as people kind of quit coming over, gave up on trying to come over," said Miller.
Miller said it will take time before K-Town South fully recovers from years of diverted traffic.
"I anticipated it to be slow. It's not going to jump back overnight," said Miller.
"I think it's beginning. I don't think it's the kind of thing that you're necessarily going to see this instant jump," said Housain.