NASHVILLE – Governor Bill Haslam and Commissioner Bill Hagerty of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development today announced the formation of Startup Tennessee, a public-private partnership designed to connect and align entrepreneurial efforts across Tennessee. In addition, ECD posted a request-for-information to gather suggestions about the regional business accelerators the state is planning to support in each of the state’s nine economic development regions. Both Startup Tennessee and these regional business accelerators are part of the Governor’s INCITE Initiative, a key component of the Governor’s Jobs4TN plan.
“Business startups are an important generator of new jobs in our state,” said Governor Haslam. “There are many Tennesseans today who have innovative ideas for creating a successful business, and Startup Tennessee is one of the steps we’re taking to put the infrastructure in place to help these entrepreneurs find the support, mentoring and capital they need to make their business a reality.”
“Our research tells us that a significant number of jobs in Tennessee come from people starting new companies,” said Commissioner Hagerty. “If we can create a system which helps entrepreneurs develop a sustainable business model and grow their company, we can make a significant impact on job growth in our state.”
Governor Haslam announced he has asked Michael Burcham, CEO of The Entrepreneur Center in Nashville, to lead Startup Tennessee. The plan for Startup Tennessee includes the creation of a website to connect entrepreneurs with training opportunities, mentors, and investors across the state who could potentially provide capital to early-stage companies. Startup Tennessee will regularly convene business accelerators from across the state to share best practices and will provide entrepreneurs with access to free or low-cost resources from companies such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and SalesForce.com. These latter benefits are possible through Startup Tennessee’s partnership with Startup America, a national public-private partnership focused on growing entrepreneurs across the nation.
“I’ve been incredibly impressed by the remarkable entrepreneurial leadership here in Tennessee,” said Scott Case, CEO of the Startup America Partnership. “We look forward to working with Tennessee to take its startup ecosystem to the next level and creating the jobs of the future.”
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs across the state as well as those organizations with a passion for supporting entrepreneurial activity,” said Michael Burcham. “Startup Tennessee is a great opportunity to move our state ahead of the curve in building the right climate for new businesses.”
Commissioner Hagerty also announced today that ECD has posted a request-for-information (RFI) on the agency’s website to gather feedback on the regional business accelerators the state is planning to support in each of the state’s nine economic development regions. Respondents are being asked to provide feedback on a number of questions including best practices in recruiting and training entrepreneurs, strategies for measuring the success of business accelerators, and strategies for helping business accelerators become financially self-sustaining over time. Responses are due to the state by July 15, 2011. The RFI can be found at www.tn.gov/ecd.