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Clayton McWhorter to chair Nashville Entrepreneur Center
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Clayton McWhorter

Updated 3:15 p.m. - NTC's Fetherling called after publication of this story to ensure we understood he didn't handpick the NEC board. Our story makes clear the picking was done by a committee. Fetherling also indicated further information about the selection committee is forthcoming. The name of TTDC's Eric Cromwell has been added to the body of the story, following receipt of information from the Chamber. Our story:

The Nashville Entrepreneur Center today announced a 26-person board of directors, chaired by Clayton McWhorter, philanthropist, former HCA president, health-reform advocate and founder of Clayton Associates, a private-equity investment firm.

Tod Fetherling, president of Nashville Technology Council and recently a mainstay in the effort to advance the NEC, told VNC this morning the board was hand-picked by himself and four other executives, working as a committee.

Fetherling said that in addition to himself, the decision-makers were Tom Wylly, chairman of Nashville Capital Network and senior partner in Brentwood Capital Advisors; Townes Duncan, philanthropist, founder and CEO of Solidus Co. and a principal in a venture-capital firm seeking State of Tennessee TNInvestco funding; and, Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. Update: Chamber and NTC staff have advised that Tennessee Technology Development Corporation President-CEO Eric Cromwell also participated in the selection process, which was broadly collaborative and sensitive to industry-sectoral diversity.

Fetherling said Chamber Vice President Janet Miller and entrepreneur and NEC Project Manager Joe Kustelski also influenced the selection of board members, as did members of the community contacted for recommendations by the core group.

Today's release also reinforced earlier reports that the new board plans to pick the NEC's first executive director, later this month.

The new NEC board is set to meet Jan. 20, at which time it will review perhaps a half-dozen short-list candidates for the NEC leadership job.

The board will also have access to the full list of applicants for the post, which Fetherling said this morning he believes numbers more than 50 persons.

In a document distributed this morning by Chamber Public Relations Manager Stephanie Pepper, the NEC said in a release, in part, "The creation of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center is a result of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce's Partnership 2010 Entrepreneurship Task Force, which was formed in late 2007 to identify opportunities to strengthen Middle Tennessee's entrepreneurial community."

The release continued, "The 75-member task force met for nine months under the co-chairmanship of Robert A. Frist, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of HealthStream, Inc. and Michael D. Shmerling, chairman of Choice Food Group, Inc. and XMi Holdings, Inc. The task force identified priority recommendations, including the creation of an entrepreneur resource center tailored for fundable, scalable, high-growth ventures.

In quotes provided via this morning release, Shmerling said, in part, "Support of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center across the city has been overwhelmingly positive," said Shmerling. "It's exciting to see the community come together to move our city forward." Frist was quoted as saying, "A healthy regional economy begins with a strong entrepreneurial culture. I believe the Nashville Entrepreneur Center will have a long-term, positive impact on Middle Tennessee."

The Nashville Entrepreneur Center, launched in September 2009, is an independent 501(c)(3) organization, but was launched through the collective efforts of the Nashville Chamber, Nashville Technology Council and other allies.

Chairman, NEC Board of Directors: R. Clayton McWhorter, Clayton Associates, LLC

Other Members, NEC Board of Directors:

  • Jim Bradford, Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management
  • Michael Burcham, Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management
  • R. Michael Cain, Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain, PC
  • Christopher Calton, Avondale Partners, LLC
  • Dr. Jeff Cornwall, Belmont University
  • Townes Duncan, Solidus Company
  • Darrell S. Freeman, Sr., Zycron, Inc.
  • Robert A. Frist, Jr., HealthStream, Inc.
  • Melvin N. Johnson, Tennessee State University
  • Jim Lackey, Passport Health Communications, Inc.
  • Robert A. McCabe, Jr., Pinnacle Financial Partners
  • Mark Montgomery, Serial Entrepreneur & Strategic Consultant
  • Christopher Rand, TriStar Technology Ventures
  • Ronald L. Samuels, Avenue Bank
  • Michael D. Shmerling, Choice Food Group, Inc. and XMi Holdings, Inc.
  • W. Lucas (Luke) Simons, Council ventures
  • Byron Smith, Mountain Group Capital
  • I.C. (Jack) Waddey, Jr., Waddey & Patterson, PC
  • Leigh Walton, Bass, Berry & Sims, PLC
  • Steve Wood, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC

Ex Officio Members of the NEC Board of Directors

  • Eric Cromwell, president/CEO, Tennessee Technology Development Corporation
  • J. Tod Fetherling, president/CEO, Nashville Technology Council
  • Alexia Poe, director, Mayor's Office of Economic and Community Development
  • Ralph J. Schulz, president-CEO, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Caroline Young, president, Nashville Health Care Council ♦

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Tags: Alexia Poe, Bobby Frist, Byron Smith, Caroline Young, Christopher Calton, Christopher Rand, Clayton McWhorter, Council Capital, Darrell Freeman, Eric Cromwell, innovation, Jack Waddey, Jeff Cornwall, Jim Bradford, Jim Lackey, Leigh Walton, Luke Simons, Mark Montgomery, Melvin Johnson, Michael Burcham, Michael Cain, Mike Shmerling, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Nashville Technology Council, Ralph Schulz, Robert McCable, Ron Samuels, Steve Wood, TNInvestco, Tod Fetherling, Tom Wylly, Townes Duncan


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