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An Open Letter to the State of Tennessee United States Congress delegation

(The following letter, supported by numerous stakeholders in Tennessee’s entrepreneurial & innovation ecosystem, was sent to the Tennessee federal delegation earlier this year to bring awareness to the broad spectrum of policy ideas available in the Kauffman Foundation’s white paper, “America’s New Business Plan”. To read more about this initiative and to learn more about the Start Us Up Coalition behind the Plan, please visit )

February 2021

An Open Letter to the State of Tennessee United States Congress delegation

Thank you for your service to our state, our country, and support for America’s businesses, and their workers, especially during this challenging and unprecedented time.

Entrepreneurs, innovators, and small businesses not only form the heart of our communities and create opportunities for growth, they are the primary source of almost all net new jobs created in our country. It is these new and emerging companies who are some of the most at-risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they have fewer financial reserves to sustain their business or may still be working towards profitability.

Launch Tennessee is an avid proponent of the Start Us Up coalition, a nonpartisan group of more than 150 entrepreneurship and small business advocates across the country, who have all come out in support of the recommendations for federal, state, and local government action contained in the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s “America’s New Business Plan,” which we have attached for your reference. As champions for these critical participants in our state and national economy, we and the undersigned support organizations of Tennessee’s entrepreneur and small business community are urging policymakers to review the bipartisan, research-based suggestions for actionable steps concerning federal, state, and local government policy initiatives contained in the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s “America’s New Business Plan”.

Opportunity – A level playing field and less red tape for entrepreneurs

Funding – Quality entrepreneurs having access to the right kind of capital solutions

Knowledge – The know-how and support systems to start a business

Support – The ability for all to take risks to start something new

There are several bills pending that address the needs of entrepreneurs and innovators. Implementation of these recommendations would not just stabilize vulnerable businesses in the present, but will set the stage for any hardworking, entrepreneurial Tennessean to be able to start and grow new companies as we look to rebuild for the future. We encourage you to revisit these initiatives and thank you for your help to advance support for these constituents.


Van Tucker, President & CEO Launch Tennessee

Randy Boyd, President University of Tennessee

Ted Townsend, Chief Economic Development & Government Relations Officer University of Memphis

Jim Biggs, Executive DirectorKnoxville Entrepreneur Center

Sumeet Chahal, Chief Experience Officer Bunker Labs

Sameera Lowe, Executive Director EO Nashville


Abby Trotter, Executive DirectorLife Science Tennessee

Audrey M. Depelteau, Director East Tennessee State University Innovation Lab

Jessica Taveau, Interim CEO Epicenter Memphis

Lisa Garner, Executive Director theCO Jackson

Katie Hendrix, Chief of Staff CO.LAB

Dr. Jeff Cohu, Executive Director Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation Lipscomb University

Cortney Piper, Executive Director Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council

Jane Allen, CEO Nashville Entrepreneur Center

Libby Santin, Director Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Heath Guinn, President Sync Space Tri-Cities

Jeff Brown, President Biz Foundry Cookeville

Eric Mathews, CEO Start Co. Memphis

Sara Pruneski On Behalf of TennSmart Board of Directors

C. Allen Gorman, PhD Associate Professor and Chair Department of Management and Marketing East Tennessee State University

Pete Nelson, Senior Director AgLaunch

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