ARC Promotes Entrepreneurship at Incubation Conference in Johnson City, Tennessee
JOHNSON CITY, TENNESSEE, August 21, 2007—Over 100 business incubator professionals, economic development professionals, and state, university, and local officials participated in the Appalachian Regional Commission's (ARC) Strategies for Rural Development conference held August 19–21 at the Millennium Centre in Johnson City. The conference, ARC's eighth on business incubation, focused on the latest tools available for growing fledging businesses and the economic potential of clean and renewable energy resources. Conference co-sponsors included the National Business Incubation Association, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Johnson City Power Board, the First Tennessee Development District, and the East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Innovation Lab.
Paul E. Stanton, president of ETSU, said, "I am pleased that East Tennessee State University, our Innovation Laboratory, and ETSU's Bureau of Business and Economic Research joined together to co-sponsor this conference because the spirit of entrepreneurship promoted here is critical to the economic growth and prosperity of our region. By highlighting the ways emerging businesses can harness the economic potential of clean and renewable energy sources, this conference showed us how to create new jobs while increasing the supply of affordable energy."
ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne B. Pope noted that "start-up businesses are more likely to still be in business if they have been affiliated with an incubator. Appalachia's over 100 incubators have led to the creation of over 24,500 new jobs, and more than 1,300 homegrown companies have graduated from incubators in the Appalachian Region. ARC has been instrumental in developing and supporting the majority of them."
Amy Bunton, TVA Economic Development's general manager for business and community resources, said that the Tennessee Valley Authority had been a long-time supporter of business incubation in the Region. "This conference was especially useful in that it explored the ways in which emerging businesses could take advantage of the new economic opportunities being offered in clean and renewable energy and pointed the way for communities to achieve energy self-sufficiency."
Many of Appalachia's incubators are technology focused, with over half associated with academic institutions. The ETSU Innovation Laboratory, with its fledging high-tech businesses, was cited by Pope as being one of the best in the area.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has reported that over 80 percent of businesses fail in their first five years. But a survey by the National Business Incubation Association found that 87 percent of businesses that have graduated from an incubator are still in business after five years.