Group Tours Chattanooga Incubator
Over the past several months, a combined group of professionals and citizen volunteers has been meeting under the leadership of Archway Executive Committee members Don Cope and Elyse Cochran to specifically address how we as a community can diversify and support our entrepreneurs and innovators. As part of its work, this group has been exploring tools that may be useful to entrepreneurs and innovators, such as a business incubator.
As a result, Issue Work Group members Larry Johnson, Associate Dean of the Dalton State College School of Business, and Donna Mayo, Dean of the Dalton State College School of Business, arranged for a local delegation to visit the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Business Development Center on March 25 to learn about how that incubator operates.
At the incubator, Dalton representatives were greeted by Kathryn Foster, Director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce; Dan Saieed, Director of the Hamilton County Development Department; and Cheryl Millsaps, CFA of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce. Kathryn, Dan and Cheryl were able to give our local representatives an overview of the incubator’s history, funding, and success rates. In addition, the Chattanooga staff shared the benchmarks (available at http://www.chattanoogachamber.com/PDF_Files/bdc_lease_09_10_08.pdf) that incubator tenants are expected to meet for the 3-4 years that they participate in the program.
At an April 4, 2011, issue work group meeting, tour participants reported on what they learned. As a result of questions asked at that meeting, plans are underway to have a representative from Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute come speak at the May 9th meeting of the group about funding vehicles for incubators.
If you would like to be a part of these discussions, mark your calendar for the Issue Work Group’s next meeting at the Dalton Utilities Auditorium on May 9 at 4:00 PM.
Group Explores Possibility of a Local Investor Network
In addition to exploring the possibility of a business incubator, the Diverse, Forward Thinking Economy Issue Work Group has also begun considering how to assist those innovators and potential start ups in need of unconventional financing. Issue Work Group members Dawn Sanders, Community Banking Relationship Manager and City President for the Dalton market of Regions Bank; Robert Varner, Senior Vice President and Business Services Officer at BB&T; and Rand Riedrich Northwest Area Director for the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center, are currently working together to identify the criteria that potential investors might require of applicants. As this group’s work progresses, the Small Business Development Center can assist candidates with developing a business plan, and provide information on financing.
Ultimately, this group will need the expertise of attorneys and CPAs as it attempts to work with due diligence issues. If you are interested in this topic and have expertise to offer, please join us at our 4:00 PM meeting on May 9, 2011, at Dalton Utilities to learn more.
Group works to Spotlight Dalton-Whitfield as an Innovation Hot Spot
In March and April, the Diverse, Forward-Thinking Economy Work Group continued to compile an inventory of “innovation” currently occurring in this community. The group has a robust inventory but is always looking for more information to highlight. If you are an innovator with something to share, please contact Melissa Lu (email@example.com) or Sue Chapman (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can put you in touch with the right people. The group hopes to use non-confidential information from the inventory to market our community to outsiders as an innovative place of business. In addition, the information will be used in determining how our current initiatives can be a launching pad for diversification.