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Topics for Economic Inclusion

The resources in this section highlight policy, procurement and resources targeted towards the advancement of equitable engagement for Tennessee’s DBEs as well as other underserved and underrepresented businesses.

Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

In a national study of business owners with disabilities, “91 percent said they enjoyed operating their businesses. 73 percent were satisfied with their businesses, 56 percent said that their businesses have met or exceeded their expectations.” Source: RTC Rural

“Interestingly, employed persons with a disability were also reported to be more likely in self-employment (11.1%) than employed persons without a disability (6.2%).”  Source: SAGE Journals

Programs and Resources

Minority Business Enterprises

Minority-owned businesses comprise 19 percent of the all the firms, with or without employees, in Tennessee, with a significantly higher number, 50 percent, in the Memphis MSA.
Source: BERO 2016 AR Addendum

Immigrants have started more than half (44 of 87) of America’s startup companies valued at $1 billion or more.  Source: National Foundation for American Policy

Policy and Procurement

Previously Incarcerated/Former Inmates

Statistics show that 97% of offenders currently incarcerated in Tennessee will return home one day, but close to half will be rearrested and return to prison or jail within three years of their release. Post-secondary education is a proven and powerful part of reducing recidivism.

  • Grants – see the grant section under Resource Links; grant dollars related to previously incarcerated typically go to nonprofits and government agencies to provide support services and training to affect recidivism; to check visit gratns.gov 
  • Jobs4TN – find employers near you
  • Reentering Your Community – A Handbook – checklists, available services, helpful tools
  • Step Ahead: helps job seekers with felony convictions and other criminal charges know their work options

Be inspired – BEST, Rubicon Bakery, Thistle Farms

Rural Businesses

“In some places, county leaders are realizing that instead of relying on outside investments, their strongest assets are the infrastructure, skills, talent and resources already found within their communities. By focusing on strengths, counties are discovering a host of qualities unique to rural places that are key for retaining residents and attracting new growth.” Source: Cultivating a Competitive Advantage, NACO

Policy and Financing

  • Governor’s Rural Task Force: resources from a wide range of organizations to advance rural communities and economic development
  • HUBZone ​- helps small businesses gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities
  • Main Street (Tennessee) - provides technical assistance, training and guidance to nationally accredited downtowns
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) - an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities
  • RUPRI --
  • Southern Rural Development (SRDC) – a mix of strategies to help rural communities seed entrepreneurs
  • USDA Rural Development - work in partnership with the private sector and the community-based organizations to provide financial assistance (not a direct lender)
  • UT Institute for Agriculture – information resource for rural business

Veteran Business Enterprises

According to SBA’s Office of Veteran Business Development, the nation’s 2.5M veteran-owned businesses employ 5M individuals. Source: SBA SBO Facts, 2012

There are just over 53K veteran-owned firms, with or without employees, in Tennessee. Source: BERO 2016 AR Addendum

Policy and Procurement

Women Business Enterprises

Since the recession, the greatest growth in the number of women-owned firms has been seen in the South (Tennessee and South Carolina tied for 6th).

The 10 fastest-growing states since the recession in terms of combined economic clout – combining growth in the number, employment and revenues of women-owned businesses over the past nine years, Tennessee tied with Georgia in 7th place.  Source: 2016 State of Women-owned Businesses Report

Policy and Procurement

  • American Association of University Women (AAUW) - a national grassroots organization to improve the lives of millions of women and their families
  • Economic Council on Women (Tennessee) - develops and advocates for solutions that will address economic needs and promote economic autonomy for women
  • National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) - dues-based organization representing the interests of all women entrepreneurs across all industries
  • WBEC South - member-based, non-profit works to enhance business opportunities between women-owned businesses and corporations through a reputable certification program, education and professional growth opportunities
  • Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) - nonpartisan organization that educates and advocates on behalf of women-owned businesses
  • WOSB Program (SBA) – a federal contracting program 

Youth Entrepreneurship

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) estimates that of the entrepreneurs engaged in starting and running new businesses, 165 million early-stage entrepreneurs are young entrepreneurs (age 18 to 25). Source: GEM 2011 Global Report

Programs and Opportunities

  • DECA - prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in high schools and colleges worldwide
  • Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) - bring business and education together
  • Global Entrepreneurship Week - the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups
  • Junior Achievement (JA) - K-12th grade programs foster work-readiness, entrepreneurship, financial literacy
  • Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) - provides programs that inspire young people from low-income communities to stay in school, to recognize business opportunities
  • Retire at 21 – learn about successful young entrepreneurs
  • FSA Youth Loans (loan program) – loans of up to $5,000 to eligible individual rural youths, (10-20yrs.old)to finance income-producing, agriculture-related projects
  • Scouts - Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts offer various opportunities in entrepreneurship and mentoring
  • Virtual Enterprise - an in-school entrepreneurship program and global business simulation
  • Young Entrepreneurs - current articles, blogs and other media for teens and young entrepreneurs