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July 16, 2013 | Tom Ballard

Biz Foundry opens new facility, announces new funding

Biz Foundry - July 16There’s fresh paint, some completed renovations with a few more to come, and a new sparkle to the one-story building at 140 West 7th Street in Cookeville. The bright interior is symbolic of the new use for the facility that once housed a dialysis clinic.

Where it once offered life extending services for individuals with renal disease, the building will now bring “economic health services” to the Upper Cumberland region as the new home of The Biz Foundry, the 14-county regional business accelerator.

Entrepreneurs who want to start-up new companies will be able to call it home and receive specialized services and mentoring. Young people interested in acquiring skills needed for the technology workforce will attend programs like the upcoming “Code Camp” and the just concluded “Young Entrepreneur Academy.”

At an event yesterday, Biz Foundry President Jeff Brown formally unveiled the new home that is owned by the City of Cookeville and Cookeville Regional Medical Center. About 40 people attended the open house and announcement of a $12,500 grant from the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development Program.

Attendees included USDA State Director Bobby Goode; Phil Oldham, President of Tennessee Technological University; Charlie Brock, President and Chief Executive Officer of LaunchTN; State Representative Ryan Williams; and Cookeville Mayor Matt Swallows.

Before and during the event, Brown reminded us of an expectant father or grandfather who was unveiling his new child or grandchild to the world. It was clear that he was proud of what The Biz Foundry team had accomplished, giving particularly praise to Sammy Lowdermilk, the organization’s Communications and Technology Director.

During the open house, Brown and Lowdermilk showed us several of the building’s distinctive areas. One, which is awaiting delivery of equipment funded by the USDA grant, will house a 3-D printer lab. Brown said that one of the opportunities they are exploring is to use a scanner to help make “masks that fit” for individuals with sleep apnea.

We also peeked into an “off limits” room that is still under renovation. When completed, it will serve Eagle Labs, a partnership announced in May that is focused on innovation and entrepreneurship (see previous teknovation.biz post at https://www.teknovation.biz/2013/05/23/biz-foundry-launch-eagle-labs/).

For more information on the USDA grant, read The Biz Foundry news release (Biz Foundry July 16 Event).