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Help is here for startup businesses, says Gov. Haslam

Gov. Bill Haslam has put his weight behind Startup Tennessee – a public-private partnership designed to connect and align entrepreneurial efforts across the state. Business startups, says Gov. Bill Haslam, are an important generator of new jobs in Tennessee. So with that foundation, Haslam has put his weight behind Startup Tennessee – a public-private partnership designed to connect and align entrepreneurial efforts across the state.

Haslam and Commissioner Bill Hagerty of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, announced the launch of Startup Tennessee this week.

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 the regional business accelerators are part of the Governor’s INCITE Initiative, a key component of the Governor’s Jobs4TN plan.

“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,” said Haslam.

Haggerty said research reflects that a significant number of jobs in Tennessee come from people starting new companies. “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.”

Michael Burcham, CEO of The Entrepreneur Center in Nashville, will 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 is a great opportunity to move our state ahead of the curve in building the right climate for new businesses,” said Michael Burcham.

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.  Startup Tennessee is linked to Startup America, a national public-private partnership focused on growing entrepreneurs across the nation.

“We look forward to working with Tennessee to take its startup ecosystem to the next level and creating the jobs of the future,” said Scott Case, CEO of the Startup America Partnership.

At the ECD website, a request-for-information posting seeks 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 by July 15. The RFI can be found at www.tn.gov/ecd.

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