Jackson, TN's Startup Culture Helps Entrepreneurs

New and expanding businesses get support from local resources

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Jackson, TN
Nick Bumgardner

Fortunately, those who desire to do business in Jackson do not have to go it alone. Resources, including education, professional expertise, advice and guidance are abundant here, confidential, and in many cases, free of cost.  

These resources are mainly provided through the Jackson Chamber, the Jackson Downtown Development Corporation, the award-winning Tennessee Small Business Development Center and other innovative and creative organizations such as theCO and theLOCAL. Professionals from these organizations teach entrepreneurs how to start at the beginning; something that many entrepreneurs fail to do.

“There is no template that works for everyone,” says Joel Newman, senior small business specialist with the Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC). “Everybody is different. If a person qualifies, we can guide them in almost every phase of their startup. There are four things needed to qualify: decent credit score, collateral, good business plan and ‘skin in the game [usually 15 to 20 percent of personal investment]'.”

Solid Business Plans

TSBDC works closely with entrepreneurs to develop a solid business plan to get the business started and move forward. It is the business plan that will determine whether a loan is needed.

“The business plan is, in medical terms, a cardiogram; a baseline,” Newman says. “My associate and I have over 60 years of business experience. We’re not just offering a class but rather one-on-one counseling. We are trying to improve the local economy. The impact of a new business can be instant or over a few months.”

Newman says TSBDC helped to create over 80 jobs so far this year, and services aren’t limited to helping brand-new businesses.

“Small-business owners come to us to help them with expanding, selling or buying a business,” Newman says.

Sharing Resources & Ideas

At theCO, a nonprofit providing work space, the mission relies on the notion that two heads (or ten) are better than one. A fairly recent addition to Jackson’s resources and initiatives for entrepreneurs, theCO provides a place and environment for co-working, makerspace, events, social interaction and incubator-type assistance. It invites techies, entrepreneurs and creatives to the table for collaboration on ideas for new businesses, artisans, projects and prototypes.

“Our aim is to create a community of sharing that can serve as a catalyst for growth for businesses that want to expand into the outer community,” theCO’s Executive Director Lisa Garner says. “We’re looking for entrepreneurs and artisans that already have their concept for business and are ready to grow in a collaborative environment.”

Another new concept for small business here is theLOCAL, a micro-retail development for entrepreneurs and artisans that was initiated by the Jackson Downtown Development Corporation. Focusing on retail space, theLOCAL provides a low-risk, low-overhead environment where new business owners can start small and test their concept.

Currently there are four tenants, and all are involved in creatively designed or handmade retail products, including Indigo Scents Candle Co.

“Each of the selected businesses went through an application process. We chose a mix that would complement one another as well as have good potential for growth,” Garner says.

Current tenants often gather together to enjoy coffee, snacks and live music. All tenants of theLOCAL may take advantage of theCO’s CO.STARTERS program.

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Thu, 12/13/2018 - 15:58