East Tennessee State University has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the state to establish a Regional Entrepreneurial Accelerator that will aim to assist area entrepreneurs with launching businesses and creating jobs.
The college’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research will partner with several other local organizations to provide “mentoring, education and training, strategic and technical support, and assistance identifying sources of capital” though the accelerator, according to the state.
“The Regional Entrepreneurial Accelerators will be an incredible asset throughout Tennessee to help aspiring entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses with expert mentoring and support,” Gov. Bill Haslam said in a release. “Startup companies have the potential to be a significant source of job creation, and we want to give local entrepreneurs their best chances for success as we work to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”
Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty announced earlier this year the $250,000 grants would be awarded to nine accelerators statewide, one in each of the nine Jobs4TN Jobs Base Camp regions.
“Despite the economic challenges our state and country continue to face, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Tennessee,” Hagerty said. “The Regional Entrepreneurial Accelerators will help promising entrepreneurs with the resources necessary to propel their companies along the spectrum of business growth and job creation.”
Each accelerator will become a foundational component of the region’s economic development strategy while creating a network of partnerships and mentors within the local business community, the statewide investor base, higher education, nonprofits and government, according to the state.
Applications were judged by multiple reviewers and assigned a composite score based on how effectively it responded to the program criteria. The grant funding is a combination of state and federal dollars and contingent upon each accelerator providing at minimum an additional $250,000 in local matching support.
ETSU’s accelerator partners include the First Tennessee Development District, Eastman Credit Union, Mountain States Health Alliance, the Johnson City Power Board, Bristol Tennessee Essential Services, community leaders Scott Niswonger and Pal Barger, Milligan College, Tusculum College, Northeast State Technical Community College, the Tennessee Small Business Development Center and the economic development agencies in each of the eight counties which make up the Northeast Tennessee region.
The eight other accelerators will be the University of Tennessee, Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Knoxville; The Company Lab, Chattanooga; Roane State Community College, Crossville; Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Nashville; Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers, Inc./South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance, multiple locations including Spring Hill, Clifton, Tullahoma and Fayetteville; Jackson State Community College, Jackson; Northwest Tennessee Development District, Martin; and Memphis Bioworks, Memphis.
The accelerator program is part of the INCITE initiative Haslam announced in May that is designed to support innovation across the state and drive growth in the creation of knowledge-based jobs. INCITE is named for its focus on innovation, commercialization, investment, technology and entrepreneurship.
The INCITE initiative includes two distinct entrepreneurial components: the regional accelerators and the previously announced Startup Tennessee. The Startup Tennessee program is a statewide public-private partnership that will connect and provide consulting support to the accelerators, while leveraging best practices and the national network of the Startup America Partnership. For more information on Startup Tennessee, visit http://tennessee.startupamericapartnership.org/.
ECD will be working closely with each Regional Entrepreneurial Accelerator over the coming weeks to launch their program activities locally. Entrepreneurs or startup businesses seeking additional information about the Regional Accelerator Program or Startup Tennessee can email the department directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.tn.gov/ecd/Innovation.html.