Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN), a public-private partnership focused on supporting the creation and development of high-growth companies in Tennessee, on Monday announced Charlie Brock as the organization’s new president and Chief Executive Officer and Stuart McWhorter as the organization’s new vice-chairman.
“Charlie’s experience as both an entrepreneur and investor will be critical in advancing our state’s rapidly growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, over time helping create jobs and economic prosperity for Tennesseans,” said Bill Hagerty, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and Chairman of the LaunchTN board of directors. “We are also very fortunate to have an entrepreneur of Stuart's caliber contributing his expertise and leadership to the board.”
“I would also like to thank Brad Smith, who has served as interim CEO of LaunchTN during a critical phase in which he developed the strategy, brought together an exceptionally talented team and placed the organization on course to support Governor Haslam’s goal of making Tennessee the number one state in the Southeast for high quality jobs, “ Mr. Hagerty said. “LaunchTN is a critical component of our state’s economic development strategy and a unique platform to facilitate an environment where Tennessee’s great entrepreneurial DNA can be unleashed to help create the next FedEx, Pilot or HCA.”
"I am excited to join LaunchTN and help build on the growing momentum that exists for entrepreneurship in our state," said Mr. Brock. “I am looking forward to working with Commissioner Hagerty, Stuart, the rest of the LaunchTN Board, and our partners across the state to make Tennessee one of the best places in the country to launch and grow an early-stage company.”
“With all the activities occurring across the state, there couldn’t be a more important time to be investing in Tennessee’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Mr. McWhorter. “I am excited to be a part of the efforts the Governor, Commissioner Hagerty, and so many others have brought together to focus on this important aspect of our state’s economy.”
In 1998, Mr. Brock helped establish Foxmark Media and grew it into one of the nation’s largest mall advertising companies. As the CEO and largest shareholder, he structured two rounds of private financing before selling the company in 2006 to Australia-based EYE Corp., one of the world's leading out-of-home media companies. After selling Foxmark, he helped launch FourBridges Capital Advisors, a lower-middle market investment bank based in Chattanooga where Mr. Brock served as managing director.
Mr. Brock most recently served as a general partner of the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, a Chattanooga-based angel investment group, and as the CEO of CO.LAB, a Chattanooga accelerator that provides advice and mentoring services to entrepreneurs and runs the summer Gig Tank program. Mr. Brock is an organizer and director of CapitalMark Bank and Trust in Chattanooga and also serves as a director of The Dixie Group and Park Media Software. M. Brock will officially begin his role at LaunchTN on Jan. 28.
Mr. McWhorter is co-founder and President of Clayton Associates, a venture capital firm based in Brentwood. Mr. McWhorter is also chairman of the board of both Medical Reimbursements of America and Censis Technologies as well as a board member of FCA Venture Partners, Haven Behavioral Healthcare, 24/7 Sports, and FirstBank of Tennessee. Mr. McWhorter will begin serving as the organization’s vice-chairman immediately.