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Chattanooga's Charlie Brock rumored likely to become LaunchTN CEO
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Charlie Brock

Updated 13 Dec. 2:32 p.m.: FourBridges announced that Frank Williamson, cited in our original story as an advisor to FourBridges, has joined the firm and is to be its managing partner, a role VNC believes was previously held by Brock. No word yet on whether that signals further news. Original story follows.-Ed.

CHARLIE BROCK, an entrepreneur who doubles as one of Chattanooga's steadiest advocates for high-growth industries, is rumored to be the prime candidate to lead LaunchTN, as chief executive officer.

LaunchTN (officially, Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, or TTDC) has been without a permanent leader for nearly three years. Two interim chiefs have served in the interim, with Brad Smith now interim CEO, under LaunchTN Chairman and state Economic Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty.

Several sources say the Brock appointment is in-the-works, but none said it has been finalized. The notion of a Brock appointment has been positively viewed by those following the process, though Brock had apparently proven resistant to approaches.

Reached this morning by VNC, Smith neither confirmed or denied a focus on Brock, saying only, "The CEO search continues to progress well, but no one has been formally offered or accepted the position yet." This story will be updated, as warranted.

Within the past month, Brock said in response to a VNC query regarding his possible candidacy, only this: "As far as LaunchTN, I continue to be impressed with the state's activity and initiatives around entrepreneurship and intrigued with how public/private partnerships can drive TN forward and create jobs/opportunities across the state. Exactly what my role is in helping make that happen is something I'm continuing to think about."

Still earlier, in September, Brock's comments seemed to close the door on taking the job, though he'd clearly been courted by at least a platoon's-worth of LaunchTN executives.

Stepped-up rumblings of Brock's reconsidering and accepting the LaunchTN CEO post began soon after the nonprofit's recent appointments of additional members of its board of directors, which many viewed as a signal accomplishment.

Bill Hagerty

A Brock appointment would mean that two investment-banking and private-equity investment professionals would lead 14-year-old LaunchTN. Chairman/Commissioner Bill Hagerty was previously active in Hagerty Peterson, based in Nashville, but is on-leave from the firm during his state service.

Such expertise atop LaunchTN would likely hearten the state's Angel and venture-capital communities, generally, and could draw-out capital-formation advocates, perhaps including the Tennessee Venture Council, a new industry nonprofit that remains off-stage, at the moment.

Brock, age 48, has in the past five years, been energetically involved in the expansion and development of the Chattanooga and Tennessee entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Particularly in the past two years, Brock has, as executive entrepreneur, provided counsel for Chattanooga's Company Lab, which is passionately led by Sheldon Grizzle, and others.

In 2009, Brock and others chartered FourBridges Capital Advisors, of which he is managing partner. FourBridges offers services including sell-side advisory, debt and equity financing, restructuring and other strategic services.

In mid-2011, Brock was instrumental in forming Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, a group of Angel investors.

Brock has also been one of the drivers behind Chattanooga's GigCity campaign, designed to leverage its EPB utility's gigabit infrastructure, which prompted this year's GigTank startup recruitment and funding event, which Brock and others have said will be replicated in some manner in 2013.

Brock maintains strong business ties with Atlanta and other communities, and has been a member of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) of Atlanta, among other Angel and entrepreneurial pursuits.

According to his bio online, Brock is a partner in and a member of the investment committee of Tennessee Angel Fund, a TNInvestco fund closely allied with Nashville Capital Network.

Also in the context of TNInvestco history, Brock's FourBridges offered to provide services to several TNInvestco funds that opted-into a consortium, through which they were to obtain assistance in marketing and monetizing their state tax-credit allocations to insurance carriers with premium-tax obligations. FourBridges partner Andy Stockett offered-up in the wake of the initial 2009 TNInvestco awards that the insurance industry then-displayed serious appetite for TNInvestco benefits.

LaunchTN Board Member Frank Williamson, the former chief investment advisor at Chattanooga-based Unum, is an independent advisor to several entities, including FourBridges Capital Advisors. Unum has previously confirmed that it participated in the TNInvestco tax-credit program.

Brock is a vice chairman of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga. He is also an organizer and charter board member at CapitalMark Bank & Trust, a successful young bank, based in Chattanooga. Earlier in his career, he was a lending officer with SunTrust Bank.

Earlier, he founded Foxmark Media, a mall-advertising company that he eventually sold to Australian out-of-home media player EYE Corp.

He also served in marketing and sales roles with Brock Candy Company and its successor, Brach and Brock Confections. His father, Pat, ran the Brock family business in the Fifties, according to the Tennessee Encyclopedia. The company sold in 1994 for a reported $140MM.

Brock and his wife have three college-age daughters and reside on Lookout Mtn. He is a nephew of Tennessee's former U.S. Sen. Bill Brock (R), who also served Republican administrations as U.S. Special Trade Representative (an ambassadorship) and U.S. Secretary of Labor.

Charlie Brock is also 2nd-cousin to another Chattanooga advocate, the seemingly ubiquitous Jim Frierson, (scroll down here for 2007 Frierson profile), who recently completed several years' service on the LaunchTN Board.

Brock is a former member of the board of trustees of Sewanee-The University of the South, and is a 1987 graduate of Sewanee, where he majored in English, according to information online. VNC

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Tags: Andy Stockett, Bill Hagerty, Brach and Brock, Brad Smith, Brock Candy, Charlie Brock, Chattanooga, Company Lab, economic development, FourBridges Capital Advisors, Foxmark Media, Frank Williamson, GigCity, GigTank, Hagerty Peterson, Jim Frierson, LaunchTN, Sen. Bill Brock, Sewanee, Sheldon Grizzle, Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, Tennessee Venture Council, TNInvestco, TTDC, Unum

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