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February 05, 2013 | Tom Ballard

Campbell County initiative making good progress

Roughly a year into the project, things seem to be moving along very well for Campbell County’s new business incubator and entrepreneurial initiative.

The program was unveiled last February when Earl Gohl, Federal Co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), joined Campbell County Mayor William Baird in making the announcement of a nearly $300,000 grant.

At the time, Baird said interest was high among local citizens, particularly those considering starting “lifestyle and service companies.” His prediction has proven to be accurate.

Todd Fisher and John Branam work for Tech 20/20’s Center for Entrepreneurial Growth, the organization that the county is using to provide programming and mentoring for the incubator clients.

Fisher told the Tech 20/20 Board of Directors at its January meeting that the program has 33 active clients, all lifestyle companies. In addition, Fisher reported that the incubator recently secured its first tenant, a local independent insurance agent who needed the type of office space that was available.

“Two of our clients have received loans from local banks, and two more are in the pipeline to be approved,” Fisher added.

For Baird, it is validation of a vision that had devoted the previous four years “working on and talking about.” Now that he’s almost a year into the effort, Baird and Billie Russell, the County’s Economic and Community Development Manager, could not be happier.

“The Campbell County Small Business Incubator is one of our County’s key strategies for job growth and economic development”, said Mayor Baird. “Based on the results thus far, we are happy with the impact it has had on the community.”

Fisher told the Tech 20/20 board that plans are proceeding to engage interested student entrepreneurs from area colleges. The team is working with Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate; Roane State Community College, which has a campus in Campbell County; and the Tennessee Technology Center in Jacksboro.

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