By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
A Tennessee native who left the state in October 2019 for a position with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is returning to serve as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Company Lab (CO.LAB), a non-profit organization supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups across Southeast Tennessee.
The announcement of Lindsey Cox’s appointment to succeed Marcus Shaw was made yesterday. She will assume the role on April 12.
“I’m thrilled to be getting back to Tennessee and to my passion for expanding the entrepreneurial and innovation community here,” she told us. “While I was at Launch Tennessee from 2013-2019, we built programs that scaled start-ups and bolstered Tennessee’s reputation as a great place to start a business. I’m excited to bring that experience, energy and know-how to the greater Chattanooga area.”
Cox will lead CO.LAB and its programs that provide training, mentoring and networking opportunities for the area’s entrepreneurs and scaling businesses. Prior to joining EDA, she served was Director of Operations and Government Relations at Launch Tennessee where, among other roles, she was integrally involved in the annual “36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival.”
“Lindsey’s work as an advocate for entrepreneurs in Tennessee and across the U.S. makes her the preeminent person to lead CO.LAB,” said George Brown, CO.LAB’s Board Chair and Founder of Aegle Gear. “Lindsey knows the resources available to our community, and she understands how capital and talent can impact our region’s innovation economy.”
Cox will lead the organization through a post-COVID environment that has transformed opportunities for entrepreneurs across the globe, increasing reliance on new technologies and online platforms across all business sectors. Chattanooga, frequently referred to as the “Gig City,” has been at the cutting edge of this type of innovation for more than a decade, marketing EPB’s ultra-fast broadband network that makes available gigabit-per-second speed to local businesses and residents.
“I’m eager to get started expanding the CO.LAB team and meeting with community stakeholders, funders and entrepreneurs,” Cox said. “Chattanooga has a wealth of resources for start-ups, and we want to ensure we are serving the area’s entrepreneurs who are eager to grow their businesses. We’ll help them take their ideas to the next level.”
Shortly after her arrival, Cox will lead CO.LAB through a focused strategic planning process to foster more dynamic support for start-ups and to maximize opportunities for diversity and inclusion with their partners in the region. Shaw developed the current strategic plan soon after assuming the top executive position at the organization in July 2017.
CO.LAB grew out of an initiative named “Create Here.” Established as the region’s front door for entrepreneurs, the organization works to increase the capability and viability of start-ups – from Main Street businesses to tech-based ventures scaling into major markets – and also to strengthen the ecosystem of support behind them. Services include helping entrepreneurs refine their business models; test their ideas with customers; pursue capital and partnerships; and connect with a community of mentors, peers and business experts. In addition, CO.LAB works to create environments that inspire entrepreneurial activity, open doors within the business community, and promote job creation
By my count, Cox will be the fourth leader of the non-profit following Charlie Brock, ironically her former CEO at Launch Tennessee; Mike Bradshaw; and Shaw. The latter announced in mid-December (see teknovation.biz article here) that he would leave CO.LAB when his successor was selected.