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KNOXVILLE—The University of Tennessee will play a significant role in a new state plan to assist aspiring entrepreneurs in creating business proposals and launching their companies, officials announced Thursday.

Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty said nine Regional Entrepreneurial Accelerators will be established throughout the state to assist Tennessee entrepreneurs. The accelerators will provide mentoring, education and training, strategic and technical support, and assistance identifying sources of capital.

Accelerators will be located in each of the nine Jobs4TN Jobs Base Camp regions to assist area entrepreneurs as they develop business plans and launch companies that have the potential to create new jobs.

UT’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will be the lead organization for the East Tennessee region. Partners will include the UT Research Foundation, UT Extension, and UT Center for Industrial Services. Community partners include the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tech 20/20, Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley, Pellissippi State Community College, Roane State Community College, and multiple chambers and entrepreneurial support organizations.

UT entities will also help in other parts of the state.

Each accelerator will become a foundational component of the region’s economic development strategy while creating a network of partnerships and mentors within the local business community, the statewide investor base, higher education, non-profits, and government.

A $250,000 grant will be awarded to each of the nine Regional Entrepreneurial Accelerators as a result of a competitive grant application process. Each application was judged by multiple reviewers and assigned a composite score based on how effectively it responded to the program criteria. The grant funding is a combination of state and federal dollars and contingent upon each accelerator providing at minimum an additional $250,000 in local matching support.

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