COOKEVILLE, TN., Jul 16, 2013 -- In the Upper Cumberland area the Biz Foundry is working to create an “entrepreneurial ecosystem” aimed at creating jobs throughout the region. The intricate network of mentors, investors and entrepreneurs is spreading across 14 counties on the plateau.
USDA Rural Development (RD) State Director Bobby Goode and Biz Foundry President Jeff Brown joined other local leaders in announcing federal funding geared at helping the company expand the accelerators abilities to help small businesses and entrepreneurs.
"Small businesses are the backbone to many rural economies," said Goode. "Providing avenues for new entrepreneurs to learn and grow their businesses with the help of investors and mentors paves the road for long-term growth in the region."
A Rural Business Enterprise Grant of $12,500 will be combined with $5,850 in contributions from the Upper Cumberland Entrepreneurial Foundation and $25,000 from the state’s Launch Tennessee Program to purchase office equipment to furnish the new center in Cookeville. The $43,350 total investment will allow the Biz Foundry to fully expand its operations into the surrounding 14 county region.
The accelerator is a short-term, intensive boot camp, helping founders and innovators through the earliest steps of building a solid business model and proving the viability of their product or service. Through a team of experts and mentors, assumptions are tested and models are refined in order to forge sustainable, profitable companies.
"The generous contribution by Rural Development shows a dedication to entrepreneurship as an economic development strategy," said Brown. "This facility will allow us to effectively interact with the region’s entrepreneurs, startup companies and students that are interested in entrepreneurship."
Rural Development business programs help local governments and non-profit organizations improve business infrastructure and promote job growth. Business loans provide needed financing for rural businesses and loan-guarantees are also available to help private lenders increase the pool of investment capital available for business start-up, modernization and expansion in eligible rural areas.
Others participating in the event included Sen. Bob Corker’s Representative Katie Davis, State Rep. Ryan Williams, Cookeville Mayor Matt Swallows, Tennessee Technical University President Phillip Oldham, Biz Foundry Director of Communications and Technology Sammy Lowdermilk, Cookeville Chamber President George Halford, Cookeville Chamber Vice President of Economic Development Lillian Hargrove, Launch Tennessee President Charlie Brock, Cookeville Area Director Jerry Jolley and staff.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, community development, homeownership and affordable rental housing to improve the economic health of rural communities. During the last four years the agency has assisted more than 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 158 communities, investing more than $3.3 Billion into local economies through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.
USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $700 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in Upper Cumberland region contact the Rural Development Area Office in Cookeville at 931-528-6539 ext. 2, toll free at 1-800-342-3149 extension 1493, or visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).