Nashville Entrepreneur Center Hopes to Boost Local Start-Ups
With the online launch of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, the city’s economic development officials hope to take an already thriving start-up culture to the next level. J. Tod Fetherling, president and chief executive officer of the Nashville Technology Council, talks about the venture and its importance to the city’s small-business community.
Q. What was the impetus for creating the Nashville Entrepreneur Center?
A. As part of Partnership 2010, our regional economic development initiative, helping grow the entrepreneurial spirit here was identified as a main focus. Three years ago we began a task force made up of 80 people who looked at research and data, and they saw that we lead the region in the percentage of GDP that is provided by entrepreneurs. It’s really ingrained in our town, and we knew we needed to grow that. This is going to have a profound effect on the community for years to come.
Q. How did those efforts result in the center?
A. There were 11 recommendations from that task force, and one was to get more involved with entrepreneurs. We picked up the ball and hired a project manager and did other things to escalate the development of the center. We secured the funding and launched the online component in September 2009.
Q. What’s next for the center now that the virtual and physical sites are up and running?
A. We have also launched a microsite, www.iammusiccity.com, which is short vignettes with leading entrepreneurs in town, everybody from the mayor to (financial guru) Dave Ramsey. We put together a board and opened the physical operation in January 2010. That’s operating out of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce for now, but we’ll be moving into our own site and also hope to open a business incubator as well. People have waited a long time to see this happen, so there’s tremendous excitement both within our organizations and within the community itself.