It takes an extraordinary woman with an incomparable breadth and depth of experience to become the first woman SIOR in Tennessee, and to become the driving force behind Knoxville’s leading commercial real estate firm. Maribel Koella, CCIM, SIOR, is such a woman; the daughter of a Mexican-born chemical engineer who immigrated to the U.S., she is Director and Principal of NAI Knoxville, a full-service commercial real estate brokerage firm established in 1983.
As the Director and Principal of a woman-owned, minority-owned business, Maribel is keenly aware of the importance of strengthening community. She has represented a number of local non-profits, often forgoing her commission, and is herself active in many community organizations.
NAI Knoxville has earned Women’s Business Enterprise (WBENC) certifications as a woman-owned business and a woman-owned small business, and is also a member of the Tennessee Minority Supplier Development Council. These are not “self-certifications,” but rather the result of rigorous processes conducted by the sponsoring organizations. In addition to requiring that a company be at least 51% woman- or minority-owned, operated, and controlled, the certification processes include:
- In-depth review of the business
- Site inspections
With minority-owned firms garnering an increasingly large market share of U.S. commerce, partnering with them is a smart business decisions. Minorities own 21.25% of all U.S. businesses. In addition:
- There are nearly 6 million minority-owned businesses, with the majority of them being small businesses;
- Minority-owned businesses generate approximately $600 billion in revenues;
- Over 40% of minority-owned firms are owned by Hispanics
While enhancing their own business profiles and success, companies that do business with NAI Knoxville also have the opportunity to help strengthen the community. They can showcase their commitment to diversity and enhance their own supplier/vendor diversity programs, while potentially qualifying for a variety of federal tax benefits offered for using minority contractors.