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Nashville Area Chamber and Entrepreneur Center launch NEXT Awards to honor successful entrepreneurs and growing businesses

Nashville Area Chamber and Entrepreneur Center launch NEXT Awards to honor successful entrepreneurs and growing businesses
by Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce | Jun 01, 2011

NASHVILLE– Recognizing the important role that entrepreneurs play in the growth of the region’s economy, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Entrepreneur Center have teamed to launch the NEXT Awards, honoring entrepreneurs making the biggest impact on the local economy and businesses experiencing the greatest employment and revenue growth.

To apply for an award, or to nominate a deserving company or entrepreneur, visit Applications are due by July 31.

“Entrepreneurship has proven to be one of the best ways to increase prosperity by growing jobs from the ground up,” said Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. “Fortunately for Nashville, we have long been known for our entrepreneurial spirit – whether through creative sectors like music or our diverse health care industry. The NEXT Awards will help recognize and celebrate these important achievements.”

The NEXT Awards differ from other recognition programs that highlight only emerging entrepreneurs and businesses in their early stages of development; they will salute the contributions made by individuals and companies at all stages, from startups, to growth companies, to the market movers in Nashville business.

“Nashville is home to so many creative people who are turning their ideas into successful businesses and driving our local economy,” said Michael Burcham, president and CEO of the Entrepreneur Center. “The NEXT Awards allow us to shine the spotlight on the next innovators, the next major employers, the next thought leaders and the next industry icons, all of whom are making significant contributions to our economy.”

The awards are centered on five business segments that are especially important to the Nashville-area economy:

  • Health care
  • Technology
  • Digital media and entertainment
  • Sustainability and alternative energy
  • Social enterprise

“The startups of today become the growth companies of tomorrow and the market movers of the future,” said Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. “The great thing about the NEXT Awards is that we are able to honor companies and individuals at every stage of this continuum. One important reason the Middle Tennessee economy is strong is that we have a healthy mix of innovative, growing employers at each stage.”

Individual awards for successful entrepreneurs will be given in the following categories:

  • Youth Entrepreneur
  • Startup Entrepreneur
  • Woman Entrepreneur
  • Minority Entrepreneur
  • Entrepreneur of the Year in each of the five business sectors above
  • Legacy Entrepreneur of the Year in each of the five business sectors above
  • Entrepreneur of the Year

The NEXT Awards replace the Future 50 Awards, a Chamber program that began in 1992. The new partnership with the Entrepreneur Center extends the concept beyond simply spotlighting emerging companies, which was the mission of the Future 50 Awards. The NEXT Awards differ in three important ways: public companies are now eligible to enter; three tiers have been established to recognize companies at all stages of development (startup, growth and market mover); and individual awards will be given to entrepreneurs making an impact on the Nashville economy.

The NEXT Awards ceremony will take place Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel. Four finalists and one winner will be recognized in each category.

About The Entrepreneur Center
The Entrepreneur Center serves as a gateway that fuses training, relationships and resources to cultivate economic development and drive Nashville’s future as the epicenter of entrepreneurial endeavors. Resources to help Middle Tennessee’s entrepreneur community include:

  • Incubation space
  • Training
  • Networking
  • Educational materials
  • Mentoring

About the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is Middle Tennessee’s largest business federation, representing more than 2,000 member companies. “Belong, engage, lead, prosper” embodies what the Chamber focuses on for its members. Together with its affiliates, the Nashville Chamber works to strengthen the region’s business climate and enhance Nashville’s position as a desirable place to live, work and visit. For more information, visit

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