Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Tri-Cities, TN/VA

Tri-Cities Ecosystem

One of the best kept secrets of the southeast United States is a region made up of Bristol, TN / Bristol, VA, Johnson City, TN, and Kingsport, TN. Known as the Tri-Cities, this unique area possesses some of the best resources of a major city, without the problems and hassles of a major metropolitan area.

Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of Upper East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, the Tri-Cities is a Combined Statistical Area of more than 500,000 residents. Johnson City placed as #14 on Forbes’ Best Small Places for Business and Careers List recently, and as one of The 10 least Expensive Places for Living in the US by Kiplinger. The attributes of affordable housing and below average utility, transportation and healthcare costs are shared by each of the communities across the Tri-Cities.

Rich in history, Jonesborough, a bedroom community of the region is Tennessee’s oldest town. Bristol has been recognized by congress as “The Birthplace of Country Music”. The area is also the home of Davy Crockett, the “Lost State of Franklin” and the Bristol Motor Speedway. An area which continues its tradition of manufacturing with its solid base, is now in the process of developing a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. Based on this activity, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up the Tri-Cities ecosystem.

 Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

  • KOSBE
    Touts themselves as the “go-to” organization in the Tri-Cities for small business owners and entrepreneurs endeavoring to start or grow a business through the provision of consulting and technical assistance.
  • Startup Tri-Cities
    Describes themselves as “a network of entrepreneurs and supporting organizations that spans across Johnson City, Kingsport, Bristol and the surrounding region”.

Startup Competitions:

  • Pitches & Pints
    An entrepreneur sponsored pitch event for the entrepreneurs of the region.
  • Wisehacks
    An annual 24 hour hackathon organized by UVa-Wise Abingdon and sanctioned by Major League Hacking, (MLH).

Co-working Space:

  • Spark Plaza
    Tri-Cities’ first co-working community. Located in downtown Johnson City, Spark Plaza’s desire is to provide freelancers and entrepreneurs an alternative place to work.
  • SyncSpace
    Kingsport’s first and the region’s newest co-working space.

Maker Space

  • Innovation Forge
    Provides a training consultancy for design software, design methodologies and innovation management.

Incubators:

  • ETSU Innovation Lab
    A university based high-tech business incubator which has as an objective “to assist and support members in growing their business endeavors from concept to commercialization”.
  • Holston Business Development Center
    Strives to support business startups become a reality through small business counseling, business oriented classes and business workspace.
  • Virginia Highlands Small Business Incubator
    Helps startups and existing businesses in southwest Virginia expand and grow through the provision of guidance, reasonable rent and related services.

Incubators vs. Accelerators: Which Best Fits Your Needs?

Accelerators:

  • AccelNow
    Provides resources to entrepreneurs to help them start up successful businesses and create jobs and wealth in the Northeast Tennessee region.

Seeking an accelerator which matches your needs? Check out our Global Accelerator Register.

Colleges / Universities:

Angel Groups / VCs:Tri-Cities

Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

  • TEKNOVATION.BIZ
    A web based news service with a focus on spotlighting and celebrating all things related to technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship in East Tennessee.
  • Startup Southerner
    “is an inclusive media platform that explores the dynamics of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the south”.
  • Venture Tennessee Connections
    An online entrepreneurial and business news service with a focus on related activities in the state of Tennessee and surrounding areas.

Other:

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Tony Lettich

Tony Lettich has previous corporate venture capital experience and currently serves as Managing Director of The Angel Roundtable. He is a co-founder of FundingSage, which provides valuable information, tools and resources to entrepreneurs seeking to start, grow and fund a business.