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Social Enterprise Creates Jobs, Investment for Middle Tennessee

Nashville's tradition of social enterprise impacts the region with more than 15 percent of regional employment and $20.9 billion in business revenue.

By Livability.com on May 8, 2014

Nashville, TN
Nashville / Courtesy of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center

The Nashville area’s rich tradition of social enterprise continues to grow and build influence – and that growth is having an economic impact across the region, thanks to efforts by organizations like the Center for Nonprofit Management (CNM).

Created in 1986 by the Frist Foundation and the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville to improve the skills of nonprofit executives in Middle Tennessee, CNM provides mentoring, networking and educational opportunities to social enterprise startups. The center recently expanded its offices, moving into the renovated Trolley Barns at Rolling Mill Hill.

“We help nonprofits do what they do better, offering training and consulting and a variety of services,” explains CNM president Lewis Lavine.

A recent study, produced by the Business and Economic Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University and sponsored by CNM, revealed that the nonprofit sector contributes more than 15 percent of regional employment and $20.9 billion in business revenue to the Nashville MSA.

One contributor to those impressive numbers is the Dispensary of Hope, a national, not-for-profit, social enterprise headquartered in Nashville that connects medication surplus from manufacturers and physicians with patients who otherwise might go without medication.

The Dispensary of Hope serves patients by working with free clinics, charitable pharmacies, federally qualified health centers and hospitals to offer affordable access to medications and supplies.

The CNM and Nashville Entrepreneur Center, which includes social enterprise as one of its entrepreneurial focus sectors, work cohesively to support more social enterprise development in Middle Tennessee.

“We encourage more nonprofits to develop enterprises that improve their ability to carry out their mission,” Lavine says.

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