Carbon Rivers Named ‘Small Business of the Year’ by U.S. Chamber of Commerce


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has awarded Carbon Rivers in Knoxville, Tennessee, a $25,000 cash prize for being selected as the 2022 Dream Big Small Business of the Year, presented by Spectrum Reach, with support from MetLife and Dell.

The Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award recognizes a small business that is making a meaningful contribution to the economy and job creation, and embodies the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, and individual initiative. Carbon Rivers was named the winner out of nearly 3,000 applications.

“Our nation’s entrepreneurs continue to demonstrate resiliency, ingenuity and creativity against all odds. Now, more than ever, it is important to recognize them for their inspirational achievements and contributions to their communities and our nation’s economy,” says Tom Sullivan, U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president of small business policy. 

Carbon Rivers was one of 27 finalists selected by a panel of judges for eight Dream Big Small Business Achievement Awards. The eight Business Achievement Award winners are:  

  • Emerging Business Achievement Award: Status Co. Leather Studio  – Enterprise, Alabama
  • Green/Sustainable Business Achievement Award:LUX Catering and Events – Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Minority-Owned Business Achievement Award:​ Cha Community – Waco and Temple, Texas
  • Veteran-Owned Business Achievement Award: Tacoma Trophy – Lakewood, Washington
  • LGBTQ-Owned Business Achievement AwardCrom Rehabilitation – Houston and Pearland Texas
  • Young Entrepreneur Achievement Award: Beeing2gether, LLC – Louisville, Kentucky
  • Community Support and Leadership Award: Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs – Buffalo, New York
  • Woman-Owned Business Achievement Award:​ The Pad Climbing – San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, California; Henderson, Nevada.

Carbon Rivers earned recognition for the company’s business growth and innovative materials solutions for the automotive, energy, safety and security industries. In 2017, Carbon Rivers’ team of engineers—all University of Tennessee alums—began developing advanced materials technologies in the basement of a house. In the last year, they brought two pioneering initiatives to the commercial market — a material that increases the durability of tires and boat coatings, and an upcycling process that recovers glass to be used in wind turbines.

With an emphasis on community involvement, Carbon Rivers has been sharing their advanced tech solutions with the public and private sectors, local youth, and emerging STEM students—making Knoxville a region of tremendous opportunity in manufacturing and engineering. They attribute their success to being able to think and operate with freedom and imagination for how to solve industry problems.  

Award winners were announced at the Dream Big Awards Ceremony as part of CO— Start. Run. Grow. Week, which took place October 18-20, 2022.