Although 2020 was the year that made the world spin a little slower, it actually solidified our core belief that we all have a way of being more connected despite our proximal limitations.
It truly exposed the lie that we’ve all been believing all along–that business is so intricate that we have to remain in the same four walls in order to operate efficiently and communicate effectively.
As a collective, we’ve re-learned and restructured how our lives could continue while being just as prosperous and successful as before. As it turns out, it is completely possible.
We hit the ground running last January, but were quick to hit the same wall that the rest of the world hit: the virtual one. What looked to be a wall, was actually a window of opportunity.
We never shifted our focus, but we pivoted our regional strategy in order to continue building lasting relationships, and provide world-class support in programs, connectivity, and resources — which aligns nicely with our viewpoint of our region, world-class in a rural setting. At least, that’s what we aspire to be.
Our purpose has always been to elevate the region, meaning our mission was to build up new leaders, provide resources for start-ups, and develop unique partnerships to ensure that those things happen.
Leading up to the COVID-19 shutdown, Sync Space had built the necessary partnerships and relationships that would give us the freedom to pivot to a remote operation seamlessly.
One of the ways that Sync Space’s strategy pivoted was an increase in smaller cohorts and one-on-one sessions to ensure the safety of our entrepreneurs and staff.
We expected this to slow down our progress but were pleasantly surprised that as an organization we continued to thrive, build momentum and be a part of a rapidly growing unification of our region around the support of entrepreneurship.
Despite the turbulent year that 2020 was, our vision has continued to be centered around building a strong diverse internal team. We know the value that we are bringing to entrepreneurs and startups, so no amount of derailed plans would waiver our focus.
By doing so, we have continued to expand our existing entrepreneur centers through public-private partnerships. We are dedicated to open other interconnected physical spaces in order to provide additional programming throughout Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
We’re very eager to see this region prosper because of these partnerships and valuable resources.
One of those partnerships being with Launch Tennessee, allowing us to become their Northeast TN partner!
Launch Tennessee’s mission is to make resources easily accessible to investors and entrepreneurs. Our partnership together allows us to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem and activate sustainable economic growth in the state of TN.
Why is this important?
Startups bring economic development to the region of which it is created in, as a result of the job growth that they bring.
Almost every new job since 1977 has been created because of a startup (www.scvedc.org).
Not only do startups create new jobs, but they bring about an improved quality of life for the surrounding communities due to the increase in investors and job availability.
In addition to job creation and economic development, startups also bring value to a changing workplace environment. Larger corporations and businesses are known for letting their employees fall off their radar or ignoring their quality of life and happiness in the workplace and personal life.
Because startups are small, they rely heavily on those they hire and have a strong focus on retaining those valuable employees. This improves the work culture that these employees experience at a startup. When someone moves on from that startup, they now have a new expectation as to what their prospective workplace should offer and how they serve their employees.
This heightens the stakes and holds all businesses to a higher standard, which ultimately improves the quality of life for all employees across the country, and not just in our smaller communities.
The ripple effect is huge.
Programs like Founders Forge are built to connect entrepreneurs to the regional startup community.
Partnerships like ours don’t believe in only investing in our immediate communities, but rather investing in the region as a whole, which ultimately increases that ripple effect we mentioned above.
By connecting startups, entrepreneurs, and many different communities, this builds bridges and blurs county, city, and even state lines. Ultimately defeating barriers that would have prevented certain startups and entrepreneurs from growing and succeeding.
Focusing on a broader spectrum means we will cast a larger net and allow for a more diverse community that doesn’t stop at a particular city.
This opens doors for smaller communities with fewer resources at hand, connects the entire region to grow and prosper together instead of leaving some communities behind in the dust, and encourages connections and networks to be made. This is a region that will thrive off of each others’ successes.
This way, if the region wins, all communities win, including the businesses in those communities. We are not opponents, but rather, we are teammates all working towards the same goal.
Do we have a case of Imposter Syndrome?
Creating more opportunity in rural communities by connecting them to resources in other areas allows those in crowded cities with heightened political climates the chance to live in less condensed areas while maintaining the same opportunities.
Rural areas no longer need to be forgotten or ignored because they are now included in groups they never were before, all because of a virtual world.
With that being said, we have to decide who we want to be. Do we want to be world-class in a rural setting? Do we want to have more opportunities and increase the accessibility for unhappy residents of overcrowded areas to find freedom, room to breathe, and lower costs of living?
If so, we have to know what we bring to the table. We can’t shy away from it, we can’t point people to locations more East or West that are more “established” or “well-known”. We need to say, “we have something for that, let me connect you to the right person.”
There’s an opportunity for us to become a recognized center of rural health innovation, to help significantly improve the health of our population.
Between ETSU’s Medical and Pharmacy schools, significant research capability, being the birthplace of Country Music, home to a renowned motorsports facility, and a Fortune 500 company–our potential is endless. Our next steps are to use what we have to our advantage.
Rural health innovation is where we should start and we have all the right resources to do it.
Here’s where we come in
You know the saying, “it’s all in who you know?”
We believe this to be true and have a desire to help entrepreneurs build a strong and long-lasting network with those who can help support their business.
How do you meet individuals and companies who can help support you? By attending events, meetings, small groups, workshops and ultimately making friends and fostering meaningful relationships.
Through our efforts to create helpful partnerships and easily accessible entrepreneurial centers, we will enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tennessee that is necessary for the success of startups and our region.