Photo Courtesy of Earl Neikirk/Neikirk Image
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.
- Tri-Cities Business and Entrepreneurs Mastermind Group
Provides small business owners, executives and professionals who are interested in business and growth opportunities “a way to tap into the power of collaboration” for solving problems encountered by all businesses.
- Tri-Cities Professional Women and Entrepreneurs
A group of women professionals and business owners who are building a network to share stories and experiences, network and share support.
Regular Entrepreneurial Events:
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”.
- iBucs Competition
iBucs is the annual pitch competition for students, professors and alumni of East Tennessee State University.
- Pitches & Pints
An entrepreneur sponsored pitch event for the entrepreneurs of the region.
An annual 24 hour hackathon organized by UVa-Wise Abingdon and sanctioned by Major League Hacking, (MLH).
- CoWork Bristol
CoWork Bristol provides entrepreneurs, small businesses and non-profits a “state of the art” facility in which to work, collaborate and grow.
- 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.
- Square One
The regions newest co-working space, Square One combines “State of the art” facilities with 1 Gbps blazing fast internet connections in a location which is minutes from I-26 and close to mountain recreation providing a unique combination of business and lifestyle opportunities for startups.
Providing Kingsport’s entrepreneurs, freelancers and dreamers a welcoming co-working space, Syncspace is more than just a co-working facility. Their dedicated staff has partnered with AccelNow to provide dedicated mentoring and networking as well as ancillary support such as branding and studio services.
- The Oxbow Center
The Oxbow Center is the co-working facility of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.
- Innovation Forge
Provides a training consultancy for design software, design methodologies and innovation management.
- 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.
- Mountain Harvest Kitchen
A food business incubator with a certified commercial culinary facility dedicated to growing emerging wholesale and retail food businesses.
- 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.
Provides resources to entrepreneurs to help them start up successful businesses and create jobs and wealth in the Northeast Tennessee region.
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Colleges / Universities:
- East Tennessee State University Entrepreneur’s Club
Enables and facilitates entrepreneurial interaction between business, entrepreneurs, students, faculty and the broader startup community.
- University of Virginia at Wise, Innovators INC
A student organization established to help students ignite their entrepreneurial passion, creativity and innovation, develop entrepreneurial skills and connect with helpful resources.
- The Angel Roundtable
A Tri-Cities based angel investment network.
Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:
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.
- Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing, (RCAM)
A Northeast State Community College outreach focused on advanced manufacturing training for the 21st century workforce.
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