MEMshop gets a rural spinoff

The MEMshop program is in process of expanding into Tennessee rural areas. Thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s LiftTN: Microenterprise pilot program, nonprofit Communities Unlimited, Inc. will be developing six ALTshops across Bolivar and Somerville, Tenn.

ALTshop is a rural spinoff of the metropolitan MEMshop program. The business accelerator initiative was developed back in 2012 by the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team and alt.Consulting, now known as Communities Unlimited. The organizations absorb the risk of starting a new business by providing subsidized rent, negotiating with property owners in underdeveloped areas, and providing valuable consulting along the way.

This model has been very successful since its inception, giving rise to permanent businesses like Co-Motion Studio in Crosstown and Five in One Social Club on Broad Ave.

“We plan to pilot it and test it, and if it works out, we're going to expand it beyond Tennessee into some of the other rural communities that we as an organization serve across seven states,” said Cynthia Norwood, Managing Director with Communities Unlimited Entrepreneurship for Tennessee division. “We want to adapt this model into other rural communities as a way to create jobs and opportunities in those small towns where they don't have big business coming in.”
Communities Unlimited signed on with the state’s Business Enterprise Resource Office in February and is presently in its recruitment phase for the first crop of ALTshop businesses. For more information, see here.
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Madeline Faber is an editor and award-winning reporter. Her experience as a development reporter complements High Ground's mission to write about what's next for Memphis.

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