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September 28, 2023 | Tom Ballard

FoundersForge awarded $150,000 by Small Business Administration

The Johnson City-based organization is one of 35 organizations named as Stage Two winners for the federal agency's "2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition."

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced that FoundersForge is one of 35 organizations named as Stage Two winners for the federal agency’s “2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition.”

The Johnson City-based entrepreneur support organization will receive a $150,000 cash prize to build strategic partnerships that will support the launch, growth, and scale of small businesses focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and research and development.

This year’s competition has brought together organizations, entities, groups, and individuals beyond geographic boundaries to support innovators and innovation needed to confront the challenges of today. After winning a $50,000 Stage One cash prize earlier this year, FoundersForge continues its efforts to foster and facilitate a thriving national ecosystem that advances equitable investment in innovative high-growth small businesses.

“Through the process of working with the SBA on this program, we have been able to build an incredible network that provides resources from across the country to our region,” said David Nelson, Executive Director of FoundersForge. “Now, we are establishing an alliance of support that will streamline communication, connections, and new resources to the entrepreneurs that need it the most.”

FoundersForge and its partners are establishing the Appalachian Start-up Alliance, a network of entrepreneurial support to bring events, programming, and resources to Northeast Tennessee as well as Southwest Virginia. The Alliance will also enable rural areas to tap into new resources such as programs and virtual events to support historically underserved entrepreneurs in our region.

Winners of Stage Two were selected through a multi-tier review panel process by experts in entrepreneurship, business, innovation, and strategic planning. Applications were reviewed by expert judges and then the Catalyst partnerships participated in an interview process with members of the Office of Investment and Innovation Ecosystem Development team.


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