Monday, November 17, 2008

Update on the Entrepreneur Resource Center

Middle Tennessee's proposed Entrepreneur Resource Center is not so much intended to "make it easy" on entrepreneurs launching business, as much as it is intended to accelerate the process of vetting ideas for businesses, according to Bobby Frist, co-chair of the Entrepreneurship Task Force of the Nashville Area Chamber and Partnership 2010. Frist, who is founder and CEO of Healthstream, answered questions during today's live webcast produced by The Tennesseen and hosted by Business Editor Randy McClain. (He's pictured far-left, with Mike Shmerling.) Frist said an advisory board of about 9 persons will be assembled to guide the ERC center along. No formal invitations to that advisory body have yet been extended, Frist said. Frist said the ER Center -- first a virtual online center, later a physical presence -- will serve as a "beacon" to the nation and the world, signaling that Nashville is serious about encouraging entrepreneurship by local firms and by firms that might be attracted to relocate to Music City. First noted that VCs and others who might have originally been concerned about the ERC possibly becoming competition for deal flow, have largely had their concerns allayed. At the same time, he said, the region must try to recruit additional capital investors to middle Tennessee. Frist said the entrepreneurship initiative would probably first leverage Nashville's existing strengths in healthcare services and technology, plus music and related technologies. Frist noted that his EP co-chair, Choice Food Chairman Mike Shmerling, has been particularly keen on using the ERC to attract businesses to relocate here from other states.

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