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April 11, 2018 | Tom Ballard

“Small Business Festival” coming to Northeast TN next month

Small Business FestivalBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Startup Tri-Cities, the slightly more than one-year old entrepreneurial initiative in Northeast Tennessee, is joining with the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and the two border cities with the Bristol name to host the region’s first-ever “Small Business Festival” early next month.

The event, scheduled for May 3-5 as part of National Small Business Week, will be one of only a handful of locations that has earned the right to be designated as an extension of Austin’s annual celebration with the same title. The Texas event has been described by Inc. magazine as a “top five must-attend” experience.

“We are one of four locations beyond Austin that has been authorized to carry the ‘Small Business Festival’ name,” David Nelson, one of the founders of Startup Tri-Cities, says. “We had to go through a very rigorous interview process to be approved.”

Nelson told us in a recent interview that Bristol officials approached Startup Tri-Cities and asked the group to help with the local program. Austin is regularly recognized as one of the nation’s entrepreneurial hotspots. Its annual “Small Business Festival” was created to inspire and educate entrepreneurs and small business owners through keynote presentations, panel discussions and interactive workshops on topics crucial to growing the enterprise.

While the event in Austin runs April 30 through May 4, Nelson says the Northeast Tennessee component is slated for only three days.

“We have three themes – one per day,” he explained. Programming on May 3 will be focused on starting a business, May 4 will be about building the new enterprise, and May 5 will have connecting as its theme.

Topics for the first day are those you would expect – legal matters, accounting, social media and marketing. On May 4, the local programming will be mostly viewing Leadercast, a day-long, streamed program expected to attract more than 100,000 people to 700 locations in 20 countries.

There will be an evening networking event on the second day after Leadercast.

“Our final day (May 5) will be full of events on topics such as building, scaling and pivoting,” Nelson says. “There are so many interesting stories and successes in Tri-Cities we’re going to celebrate.”

All of the events with the exception of Leadercast are free.

“This is not about selling,” Nelson says. “It’s about connecting. The feedback and interest thus far has been phenomenal.”

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