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May 20, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

Sky Center Entrepreneur Center shares economic impact report

The 2023 Impact report shares the effectiveness of CO.STARTERS and other programming.

In the past two years, the Sky City Entrepreneur Center in Maryville has made a notable impact on Blount County entrepreneurs. The center was created in 2019 to help small business owners succeed and launch new companies in the area. It closed briefly during the COVID-19 pandemic and rebounded with a bang.

The Center’s 2023 report details the increased impact year over year, especially when it comes to the CO.STARTERS program. It just graduated its fifth class of entrepreneurs, meaning about 60 people have gone through the program.

According to the report, graduates of the program average $16,000 of annual revenue growth after completing the course, which equates to $340,000 added annually to the Blount County economy.

Not only is CO.STARTERS making a financial economic impact, but the report said about 25 percent of founders hired employees following the completion of the course.

We talked to the Interim President of Sky City, Jeremy LaDuke, who shared the Center’s commitment to investing in all types of founders.

“We are constantly battling the misconceptions about ‘entrepreneurs.’ People think that term only applies to technology companies, and that’s not true, anyone that starts a business is an entrepreneur,” LaDuke said. “We have new people coming in all the time and feeling empowered by the resources.”

Furthermore, the report details how Sky City has been utilizing its coworking space. It had more than 3,000 visits to the coworking space in 2023. Of those, there are 10 dedicated desks, 4 private offices, and 212 day passes rented.

The organization also shared about its initiatives such as the recent Launchpad Pitch Competition (see article), the Lunch and Learn series, the Women in Entrepreneurship group, and the Ignition podcast.

Read the full report here.

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