The Knoxville region has a new roadmap to assist small businesses and entrepreneurs flourish with the release yesterday of “Capital Access Redefined.” The report is the latest in the Knoxville Chamber’s on-going “Path to Prosperity” strategy series.
Underwritten by the Truist Foundation, the document presents recommendations focused on improving access to capital for business builders and restoring the cycle of investment for the region’s entrepreneurs.
Research and analysis conducted for the report revealed specific deficiencies in the local financing continuum including gaps that require new sources of capital, as well skills and support deficits among business builders and investors. The findings are also consistent with the analysis that Techstars conducted late last year of the Knoxville-Oak Ridge region’s innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem (click here to read that report).
The Chamber agreed to help develop a strategy to address the deficiency.
The strategy makes four recommendations:
- Increase opportunities for businesses seeking less than $50,000 in capital;
- Expand and strengthen entrepreneurship and small business education, training, and services;
- Expand the availability of angel, private equity, and venture capital funding; and
Drive greater awareness of the region’s entrepreneurial entities with internal and external capital providers.
“The white paper includes recommendations for broad, inclusive regional action over time,” said Nancy Nabors, Knoxville Chamber Director of Regional Enhancement. “The next step is to determine champions and partners who will take these recommendations and generate actionable tactics.”
The analysis was conducted by Richard Dapaah, Executive-in-Residence at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. Dapaah specializes in venture capital and equity investments. Among small business owners, two-thirds of those interviewed by Dapaah who had tried to raise capital within the past 12 months were seeking $50,000 or less. Generally, small business owners seeking loan amounts of $100,000 or less have fewer options.
“The community can get involved by first reviewing the recommendations and then evaluating where they can contribute,” added Nabors. “We need to amplify the current options available, organizations that can offer support, and capital investment success stories.”
Research conducted for the report also corroborated the data previously presented by the Knoxville Chamber reflecting the 25 to 54-year-old demographic. Between 2010 and 2019, the Knoxville region grew this age group by less than one half of one percent. About 37 percent of the Knoxville region’s population is between the ages of 25-54, while regions successful in retaining/attracting this demographic are between 40 and 45 percent. The long-term growth of the Knoxville area ecosystem relies on future generations of entrepreneurs who have access to the necessary capital, support, and educational resources.
The full strategy is available here. In addition to the release of the white paper, the Knoxville Chamber will be hosting a panel discussion on August 24 featuring subject-matter experts from the region. To RSVP to the event, click here.