The Company Lab (CO.LAB) is a nonprofit startup accelerator that supports entrepreneurial growth in southeast Tennessee. We work with companies ranging from street-corner mom and pop shops to tech startups scaling into major markets. We also wake up every morning thinking about how to create a more robust and dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem in our region.
Located in the heart of Chattanooga’s Innovation District on Floor One of the Edney Innovation Center, we’re bringing entrepreneurs into direct contact with some of the sharpest, most motivated minds in the city.
Its original purpose, as a part of CreateHere’s mission, was to make Chattanooga a more creative and vibrant city that would attract and retain creatives and entrepreneurs alike. Since launching our SpringBoard program — which has evolved into the CO.STARTERS program we operate today — we’ve morphed into a full-fledged startup accelerator equipped to support entrepreneurs at every cycle of development.
An increasingly vibrant Southside district was bursting with potential and needed an event to channel that energy and strengthen the neighborhood.
Today, the MAINx24 annual 14-hour festival–featuring food, music and culture–has become one of Chattanooga’s most celebrated local events, with 5,000+ annual participants and over 80 individual events packed onto Main Street every year.
Beginning in the 1980s, civic revival in Chattanooga was underway. But by the 2000s, some of this dynamic energy and innovative determination had dwindles. The city was leaking its talent to other cities once again.
In response, two inspired citizens–Helen Johnson and Josh McManus–started a bold initiative called CreateHere, a nonprofit project to infuse cultural and economic life back into the city of Chattanooga by supporting the arts and creative enterprises–or, more specifically, the people behind them.
One hundred years ago, Chattanooga was the entrepreneurial hub of the South. Located on the Tennessee River near several major Southern cities, it was an ideal place for businesses to launch and thrive. Yet in the 60s and 70s, Chattanooga’s reputation for enterprise faltered after a period of post-industrial decline left the former manufacturing city in search of a new identity.