- Associated Press - Sunday, October 12, 2014

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The Greater Memphis Chamber is working to raise $100 million in venture capital to help launch new businesses in Memphis.

According to The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/ZTmqrs), investors, agencies and financiers in Memphis, the state and throughout the country are being asked to contribute to a fund that will be used to finance up to 1,000 new startup businesses.

Entrepreneurs are being sought in industries that include logistics, bioscience, medical devices and an open category called the “next big thing.”

Phil Trenary, the chamber’s chief executive officer, said the total “amount of capital required will be tied directly to the number of companies we have” seeking financial help.

Venture capital would help Memphis Bioworks Foundation, an economic developer, in its effort to ramp up the chamber’s Entrepreneurship Powered Innovation Center. It could help finance new businesses and steer them to the services available in the city for new firms.

The center sprang out of the chamber’s program to boost the Memphis economy by luring entrepreneurs from the Mid-South and the rest of the country.

“We’ve had an unbelievable number of people knocking on our door,” Bioworks president Steven Bares said.

Entrepreneur centers in Birmingham, Detroit and Nashville could become the model for the new Memphis entrepreneur enter, Bares said.

Bioworks will open a search for a center director once basic plans are in place for how it will operate, he said.

The center could include a data bank on individual entrepreneurs, a process to determine what prospective businesses need and a guide to direct them to assets already in place to support entrepreneurs, including potential investors and the incubators EmergeMemphis and Start Co.

Between 2009 and early 2014, the city’s top business accelerators have helped 181 startups that created 532 jobs and attracted $50 million from investors.

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com

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