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April 02, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Jim Biggs reflects on KEC’s decade of supporting entrepreneurs

His reflections come as the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center will celebrate 10 years later this week.

The Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a celebration from 5 to 7:30 p.m. this Wednesday, April 5, at its Market Square offices.

For most of its 10-year history, Jim Biggs (pictured right) has served as the Executive Director – he started in January 2014, and we sat down with him last week in Nashville during Launch Tennessee’s “Innovation Week” to review KEC’s first decade.

“We’ve had the good fortune to be able to grow alongside a community that’s been growing up,” he told us. “One fun thing is to see companies when I started now be successful.”

Biggs also noted that many of the entrepreneurs that KEC served in those early years are now sufficiently successful that they are returning to the organization – not as those still needing help but rather as mentors for other aspiring entrepreneurs.

“It’s the flywheel we were seeking,” he says.

Biggs also noted the expansion of programming available for start-ups, both from KEC and other organizations. In the case of KEC, it now offers programs like 100Knoxville, houses the Maker City initiative, and has programming targeting women-owned businesses.

“We’re growing in all areas,” he says.

On the broader ecosystem front, Biggs talks about the evolution of programs available, both in terms of support and sophistication. Those examples include the “Innovation Crossroads” operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Spark Innovation Center at the University of Tennessee Research Park. Neither existed when KEC was launched.

The celebration Wednesday night includes drinks, some light snacks from Real Good Kitchen Catering, and what KEC promises is “an incredible cake from Porch Cat Cakes.” There will be a photo booth and guests are encouraged to wear any KEC swag and shirts they have from the past 10 years.

Passing of the microphone for story sharing begins at 5:45 p.m., and the cake will be cut at 6:15 p.m. To register, click here.

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