Over 750 entrepreneurs from the eastern United States will be in Nashville for the next three days for the EO NERVE conference, held at the Omni Nashville Hotel. This regional gathering of EO members will be the largest ever for the conference, with nearly double the registrants from previous meetings. (Though the event is for EO members, we will be reporting back some highlights from the conference.) Now that the event officially starts this afternoon, Joe Freedman, EO Nashville’s NERVE chair and co-founder of Music City Tents and Events, took time to speak with Southern/alpha about the making of this ‘legendary’ affair.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd along with Institutional Casework Inc. (ICI) officials announced the company will expand its current operations in Tennessee, opening a new manufacturing facility in Union City. ICI is expanding due to market demand and will invest $6.2 million in this new facility, creating 200 new jobs in Obion County. “We want to thank Institutional Casework Inc. for choosing to expand in Tennessee and the new jobs in Union City and Obion County,” Haslam said. “Our focus has been not only fostering a business climate that helps businesses be created here but also grow and succeed, and it’s exciting to see companies like ICI thriving and expanding their footprint here in Tennessee.”
Venture Nashville Connections
At this stage in the company’s development, that brief on-site visit by a man who is arguably one of the world’s most influential elected officials may say more about the company’s relationships than it does about iCitizen’s prospects for success. In the four years since the idea for the firm occurred to one of its founders, iCitizen has aimed to create a company that will help improve the quality and accessibility of public-opinion data and stakeholder communications on key issues for citizens, politicians and policy-makers — while simultaneously earning for iCitizen the public trust, user traffic and paying customers that it needs.
Times Free Press
Small business owners gave Tennessee an A for its business friendliness for the second year in a row, landing the Volunteer State state as the 7th best state in the nation for its overall small business climate, according to a business survey released Tuesday. The nationwide survey of nearly 18,000 U.S. small businesses by the San Francisco-based tech firm Thumbtack, which included 316 responses from Tennessee, rated Texas as the best state for small business and Rhode Island as the worst state, based upon responses and ratings in seven business categories. Georgia, which also earned an A for its overall business friendliness, ranked No. 9 among the best states for small business.
The Office of Alumni Affairs at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville was seeking new ways to better connect with alumni, particularly younger ones. In the process of deciding on the best approach, it has developed a unique way to also help faculty, staff and students. The program, appropriately named VOLstarter, adopts a very popular model of engaging non-traditional investors in interesting and worthwhile projects. “It’s a crowdfunding platform modelled after Kickstarter and Indiegogo,” said Lance Taylor, UT’s Director of Annual Giving and Student Philanthropy. While focused on alumni, anyone can contribute.
Nathan Ruff began watering plants for several Bellevue neighbors at 12, his first foray into developing a business. At 14 he began re-gripping golf clubs, asking those on Nashville golf courses if they needed an upgrade, and telling them why they did. At 16 he began selling T-shirts online before becoming a salesman at Carnival Kia. At 20 Ruff runs a Web design and branding business, OneNine, that includes five contractors and generates six figures in annual revenue. With an early start in the business world, Ruff offered the following takeaways for other aspiring entrepreneurs: College isn’t for everyone. It wasn’t lost on Ruff that Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors were all college dropouts. Although he recognized the value of higher education, he felt he could build his own business career regardless of his credentials. He enrolled at Nashville State Community College, while working at Kia and obtaining a real estate license, but he left after three semesters to focus on his Web-design company.
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